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North Mountain National Trail #44, AZ

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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 1.35 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,468 feet
Elevation Gain 626 feet
Accumulated Gain 626 feet
Avg Time One Way 35-60 minute
Kokopelli Seeds 3.44
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Lookout Mountain Connector #25
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 12
Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 242
Routes 836
Photos 12,083
Trips 4,883 map ( 24,926 miles )
Age 51 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Nov, Feb, Jan → 7 AM
Sun  5:36am - 7:33pm
Official Route
20 Alternative

extreme split personality
by joebartels

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North Mountain National Trail #44 has a north and south trailhead with the summit above and between the two trailheads. It is perhaps the most varied 1.5 miles of trail in the Valley. 75% of the popular north is smooth asphalt. 25% of the south is loose gravel with a few awkward steep spots.

Halfway to near the summit is most often hiked as an out-n-back from the north. You can do the same from the south or make a loop by walking the road or the interpretive / spider-maze trails between restrooms.

The road that circles counterclockwise through the park is one way. The immediate first lot/Havasupai is the largest with 94 spots, plus 6 handicap spots for group picnics. The North #44 trailhead lot/Maricopa is next with 27 spots. Next is the Ranger/Pima lot, with 46 spots. The South #44 trailhead lot/Quechan is the luck of the draw with 3 spots. Yavapai is the last lot with 50 spots.

Since the North lot is encountered first and most popular, I'll describe north to south.

North TH to end of the road
The first 0.15 miles and only natural surface heading up is the same choppy pre-Cambrian period gneiss and schist as Piestewa. All these hills are but it has the same distinctive use-worn look as Piestewa.

There are no flat breather segments, it's game on from step one. After the trail is asphalt on up. There is a hard-packed trail adjacent-right for a large segment. Albeit busy at times, the road width reduces the in-season conga line better than Camelback, Piestewa, or the north leg of this trail. Folks tend to break at the road curves but it basically a steady 16.5% grade. Around 2020 the road was repaved and they put up a pipe railing fence.

The road ends just shy of the fenced-off summit. #44 forks off left to the public summit just before the end of the road. I don't hike here often but it seems more go to the end of the road now vs the faux summit.

Top down to South TH
The footing is initially good as the trail zigzags around rock obstacles. The grade is 21% overall. For reference, that's slightly more than Piestewa and Slightly less than Camelback. The game-changer is roughly 0.2 miles of the mid-portion with loose footing and two steep inclines.

Views south down Central Ave into downtown Phoenix give you more of a city feel than Piestewa or Camelback. The only questionable turn is above a house at the saddle, turn left/east. After ~50 feet it's more of a casual three switchbacks down.

Restrooms are prison-style, doorless stalls. That said, they are maintained and fully functioning. There is a high-flow water spigot at the South TH, I didn't check the North.

Both sides have positives & negatives. The south is more my style, but the footing is too sketchy for my lack of balance in-season because the locals are quick. I'm not talking about stereotype college athletes. Families, toddlers to grandparents that put me to shame. I'm not kidding; it's scary and inspiring alike.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2021-07-22 joebartels

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    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.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To North Mountain Trailhead
    In Phoenix, at 7th & Peoria on the west side of the road. Head on up the park loop drive. The trailhead is located at the Maricopa Picnic Ramada on the north western end of the loop. Ample parking available or you could park several other places within a small walk. Restrooms and pay phones available at the park center.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 12.1 mi, 24 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 119 mi, 2 hours 5 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 134 mi, 2 hours 15 mins
    page created by joebartels on May 23 2012 1:00 pm
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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