Casa Grande's "other" mountain park
Overview: The "Nature Trail" at North Mountain Park in Casa Grande is the only established trail in the park. It winds 1.3 miles across the desert scrubland, allowing isolation and views of the mountains on the Gila River Indian Reservation. The trail is not challenging, nor terribly interesting for most of its length. It is much less used than the popular trails on Casa Grande Mountain.
Warning: There is essentially no shade along the route, and definitely no water.
Hike: The hike starts from the trailhead kiosk, which is hidden behind some bushes and a shade ramada from the main park road. From the main parking area, head south towards the next ramada. You'll see the kiosk on your right, next to one of the 4 stone and wood foot bridges along the trail.
From the ramada, the trail heads south through creosote scrub and scattered palo verdes, and around some low ridges of granite boulders. This is probably the most scenic section of the trail. After crossing the park road, the trail bends to the east and approaches the main entrance road. From here through the rest of the trail, you are basically walking through creosote scrub. In the last quarter mile follows a shallow dry wash. There are numerous saguaros, palo verde, and Ironwood. There are three wooden/stone bridges along this stretch, along with another road crossing. The trail dips down into the wash after the road. After 100 yards or so of wash hiking, you find yourself back at the kiosk and trailhead.
There are some plants labeled along the trail, but to call this a "nature trail" is kind of stretching things. If you keep your eyes peeled, though, you can see some wildlife. There are coyotes, snakes, lizards, hawks, quail, doves, vultures, rabbits, and others. In the spring the desert blooms, and polinating insects abound as flowers blossom.
Water Sources: None on the trail, but the park entrance has a spigot.
Camping: Make arrangements with Casa Grande Parks for a permit - camping is allowed at designated sites within the park.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.