Mormon Loop is technically a one-way segment from the National Trail at the end of the old fire road in Pima Canyon to the true Mormon Trail. Page stats reflect the official one-way segment. It is often used to make a loop as described below.
Loop From Mormon Trailhead
5 miles RT
1,180 feet AEG
2.5 hours avg
From the trailhead, begin the moderate ascent, then take the trail leading off to the left (the trail on the right has apparently been closed to foster regrowth). The first 0.3 miles is fairly easy and then begins a series of rocky switchbacks. Be sure to stop once in awhile and look out over the valley. One can see the White Tanks, Squaw Peak and Camelback Mountain, the Papago Peaks, and Four Peaks as well as a great view of downtown including "B.O.B." (Bank One Ballpark for you out-of-towners).
Just before the half-mile marker is a 6-seater rock bench complete with footstool that was obviously caringly created by some kind folks (hey, thanks). As we had begun the trail at 4:30 PM, there were far more shady spots in which to stop and rest than we had anticipated.
The grade is a little steeper between the half-mile and the one-mile markers. We passed several saguaros that were beautiful and unblemished on the north side but rather ragged on the south side (must have been all that clean air in the city resulting from the alternate-fuel program).
A short distance past the one mile marker, you arrive at another trail marker that shows the Mormon Loop heading off to the left and the Mormon Trail bearing off to the right. Continue on the trail to the right and you will shortly encounter the National Trail, the 14.3 mile trail which traverses the entire length of South Mountain.
On a little side-jaunt into the canyon we happened to turn around just in time to catch a young coyote curiously watching us as he slowly walked along the top of a ridge. This is also where Rodney made his first acquaintance with Mr. Diamond Back! Luckily, they both made the mutual decision to turn around and go the opposite way.
Remain on the National Trail for approximately 1.2 miles and then look for the short trail leading north to the Mormon Loop Trail marker (sorry, no picture; it was getting very dark at this point in our hike). Take the Mormon Loop Trail leading west. Be very careful not to take the trail leading east as you will probably end up coming out near 48th Street making for a long walk back to your vehicle on a very busy not well-lighted road.
The rest of the hike was completed under a new moon, so very little light, and we had not brought along any flashlights. We were surprised at how easy it was to navigate in the dark once we got our night vision adjusted. At one point, after reaching a rather level high spot in the trail, we were serenaded by the lovely howls of several coyotes. What a special treat!!!
Then we hit those rocky switchbacks mentioned earlier. This was a tad tricky in the dark as it is difficult to see which way the rocks we were about to step on were slanting. Fortunately, both having brought along our saguaro hiking sticks, we could use them to check out what we were about to step into. These are also good for scaring off any snakes before you make the mistake of stepping on them. Also, on the descent, we began picking up beautiful views of the lights from the city. All in all, even though unplanned, this turned into a calm and relaxing night-hike.
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.