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Pass Mountain Loop Trail #282, AZ

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Guide 553 Triplogs  5 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Mesa NE
3.2 of 5 by 79
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Loop 7.4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,030 feet
Elevation Gain 656 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,194 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 - 5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 13.37
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11  2019-05-18
Peak 3004 Loop - Goldfield Mtns
6  2019-05-06 Daytripper
4  2019-04-25 JuanJaimeiii
30  2019-04-11 RowdyandMe
5  2019-04-09 JuanJaimeiii
4  2019-04-06 ddgrunning
16  2019-04-04 adilling
9  2019-04-04 Daytripper
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Author ck_1
author avatar Guides 9
Routes 0
Photos 120
Trips 117 map ( 396 miles )
Age 46 Male Gender
Location Mesa, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb → Any
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:14am - 6:25pm
Official Route
34 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
a solid hike
by ck_1

New Maricopa Trail re-routes were done on the west part, north of Wind Cave TH. Although there are a few significant changes, the mileage is almost identical.

Pass Mountain Trail is a great loop trail in the Northeast Valley. Located in the Usery Mountain Park, there are trailheads both inside the Maricopa County Park as well as outside the park boundary. The majority of the trail runs through Tonto National Forest.

There are really three access points for this trail. One is from the horse staging/ picnic area at the east end of the park. This is the actual trailhead with the trailhead sign indicating the trail name and distance. The second is from the Wind Cave Trailhead. The third is not inside the park (I start at this one) but rather on National Forest land at the Northern terminus of Meridian Road. If you are looking for a longer hike, you can access Pass Mountain Trail from the Coleman and Blevins trails also.

This trail description will start from the Wind Cave trailhead inside the park. It would be the better start for 1st time visitors to this trail, out of towner's, relatives, etc. There are restrooms available as well as Ramadas and tables. There used to be Pepsi machines, but they have not returned since the bathrooms were redone. This is also the most populated trailhead as the Wind Cave is the reason most people come to Usery.

About 100 feet past the Wind Cave Trailhead, you'll come across signage indicating Pass Mountain Trail. Turn Right. This description reports the loop counter-clockwise. I have done the hike in both directions, and prefer this option.

For the next 2 miles or so you will be weaving through washes along the southern slope of Pass Mountain. You'll pass Cat Peak on your right (South) which offers a side trip if interested. You'll see private homes on your right at about the 2-mile mark. Just up the trail, you'll head North.

If you make a navigational error, you will do so here. The Meridian Trailhead is about a quarter mile to the East along the fence line. In between is a steep walled canyon. There are quite a few spur trails in the area. If you maintain a bearing of North, you will do fine. Don't head east, or you are off on another adventure. As a rule of thumb, if you descend into the canyon, you went the wrong way.

Stay on the Pass Mountain Trail heading north. Eventually you will begin to turn toward the West (left). You'll be able to see the Pass that you are heading toward. Make sure to stop and look behind you, as the views of the cliff face of the Superstitions are fantastic. You have been walking for about 3.4 miles when you pass between two large boulders. You can see the trail as it snakes up the side of the mountain to the pass.

At the 3.5-mile mark, you'll begin heading to the right as you traverse the side of the mountain. A great picture spot is where the trail turns left around a shoulder. You can't miss it, wide trail, beautiful spot.

Between this spot and the pass, the terrain alternates between loose rocky ground and firm slick rock. This area can be very slippery in wet conditions. As you head back toward the East under the cliff, the trail ascends at a steeper angle. The drop off to the left is more pronounced... just be careful.

At 3.9 miles you reach the Pass. Great spot for a break. Excellent views. Nice flat wide open area. You'll be looking at the backside of the Pass Mountains. The Salt River and the large cliffs along it are visible, as is Four Peaks and the Rim. On a clear day, this view is spectacular. I once watched a storm roll in from a protected area here, just beautiful. There is a side trail that heads up to the right (East). It leads to a cave and even better views. Scrambling up the ridge is also possible. You could spend some time exploring this area. Your elevation is 2,588 feet.

Continuing on, you'll be heading toward the West. The trail gradually descends. You will be crossing a few washes/draws as you hike along the northeastern slope of the mountains. At 4.3 miles, you'll pass 2 conglomerate boulders. This portion of the trail is easy to follow, enjoy the views. As you approach the Western edge of the mountains, you may begin to hear gunfire. Your ears are not deceiving you. The firing range below the PHOENIX sign on Usery Mountain is not far away. Nothing improves the solitude of a desert hike like the sound of semi-automatic gunfire.

At 5.8 miles you will pass through the fence back into the Recreation Area. This is the "long" section. From this point to the trailhead, you go through countless washes as you hike below the western slopes of Pass Mountain. There are a few big ups, but nothing that I would call strenuous. This area is classic desert hiking.

At 7.4 miles, you return to your starting point. If you're still thirsty for more hiking, head up the Wind Cave Trail.

This is a great hike close to home. The trail is rarely crowded. I have seen more wildlife on this trail than any other in the valley. On a recent outing, I encountered 2 deer, 1 huge desert turtle, an army of red ants, 3 coyote and a tarantula. I have seen more rattle snakes on this hike than any other, so take care. I most enjoy this hike if I can time it to be finishing up around dusk. As for times, well, they can vary. We took my wife's aunt and uncle from Illinois on this hike and at a slow to moderate pace we went just over 5 hours. I've done it myself in less than 3 hours

A short option to the whole 7.4 miles would be to start at the Meridian Trailhead and do an out and back to the Pass. I like that as an after work hike.

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2001-11-03 ck_1
  • Usery Trails 2019 Map
    area related
    Usery Trails 2019 Map
  • Usery Trails 2019 Map
    area related
    Usery Trails 2019 Map
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.

Most recent of 107 deeper Triplog Reviews
Pass Mountain Loop Trail #282
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I hit the trail a little before 5:30am in a clockwise direction from the horse staging lot. The Creosote,Brittlebush,and Ocotillo (mostly) are way past their prime(tell me about it). Not to fret Mother Nature, the Ironwood and Saguaro's are to make sure you have flowers for Mother's day. A pretty nice display of blooms. The bees were a buzz and the White Wing Dove were enjoying the Saguaro blooms(state flower) nectar. I'm sure they will be around for the fruit as well. I always enjoy seeing them get all red faced. I managed to stay in the shade for the first couple of miles. From there the sun started splashing through the Palo Verde trees as I rounded the northwest corner and bopped up and down to the contour of the trail. As the temps went up my mpm went down. The birds were singing pretty good today with a boisterous Cactus Wren(state bird) being the loudest. I wonder if all songs today were a plea for rain. The saddle around the backside of the loop always seems to be accompanied by a nice breeze. It was a welcome feeling this morning. Quite a few lizards out enjoying the morning sun before choosing the cooler side of the rocks for the hotter part of the day. I finished about 8:00am. That is just about enough sun-time for me in the desert this time of year. It was nice to get out for a hike :y: . I only saw 2 mountain bikers,1 jogger, and 5 hikers. All going counter clockwise.
Pass Mountain Loop Trail #282
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Decided to go for a local hike again today as the weather forecast was a high of only 80 today. Besides doing the loop clockwise added in Meridian trail,Blevins trail portion of and wind cave trail. Still no rattlesnakes seen this year, maybe last year I saw more than usual almost every hike after March. Also it’s like a mini spring break with young people out on the Wind Cave trail wish the teachers would go back to work.Wind Cave trail remains the 3rd busiest outdoor treadmill in the area after Camelback and Piestewa peak summit.Maybe I’ll be awarded the curmudgeonpelli award soon. Was a nice day but a little warm about midday, after leaving the viewpoint on the loop only saw 6 other hikers.
Pass Mountain Loop Trail #282
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Nice cool day to hike trails with no shade. Parked on Meridian and then started down Meridian trail,then Blevins trail, took vista trail and Merkle trail before beginning pass mountain loop from pass mountain trailhead. One bike, 6 horses and a dozen hikers met,took a nice snack break overlooking bulldog canyon, 4 peaks, saguaro lake and blue point.Good exercise on a pleasant day ,what more could one want.
Pass Mountain Loop Trail #282
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Nice mild weather continues,decided to join the other retiree’s and winter visitors at Usury Mountain Park. Added Meridian trail and Blevins trail to Pass Mountain Loop for a little extra mileage. Walked up the sandy wash where Maricopa tail intersects, the area you go by when you descend from the summit in the nw direction ,over the last 10 years has been a reliable spot for Mexican poppies and noticed none so far. Encountered 4 horses with riders going ccw. Took a snack break overlooking bulldog canyon. Overall a good workout despite little aeg.
Pass Mountain Loop Trail #282
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Daylight is just barely stretched out long enough to allow a quick hike after work. Arrived at Meridian TH and started hike up to saddle at 5:40pm. Reached saddle in 28:02. Rested up top for 7 minutes then started back the same way. 25 minutes back to the trailhead with little available light remaining. I had a headlamp stowed away, but did not need it.

NOTE: Current PB for this route is from April 2015. 27:25 up, 21:40 down; Total 49:05
Pass Mountain Loop Trail #282
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First after school hike in 2018. Again this turned into a slog. I decided to go up the area I came down last time. I figured this would allow me to come down the easier part on the south summit. Pretty sure I stumbled upon a mountain lion rest area? A 12x9 foot area of all matted down grass with some scat in the corner. It was kind of freaky in a way that made it feel like I was being watched.
Pass Mountain Loop Trail #282
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Goldfields Bulldog Ridge Loop
Drafted this loop hike to hike north down Bulldog Ridge. Pass Mountain Trail gave us a nice warm up (lots of trail runners) and the horse trails along the return gave us time to appreciate level ground :o I planned on cliffing out once along the ridge, where we would need to work our way around to continue, but actually we encountered 3 drops or walls we had to maneuver around. Those route adjustments along with the normal ridgeline scrambling required really wore on both of us.

Would I do this hike again, absolutely, just not too soon :)
Pass Mountain Loop Trail #282
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Decided to do some hiking on wide well maintained trails to let my wounds heal from the last hike,ie.bushwack to 5057 peak superstition mt. Added Blevins,Cats peak and Cats peak pass trails to create a bigger loop. A Pass mountain super loop,it was nice hiking in the cloudy conditions with the mild temps. Couple of very large groups of about 20 left from the trailhead at end of meridian to circumvent, shared the trails with some bike riders also.Overall an uneventful pleasant hike.
Pass Mountain Loop Trail #282
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Arrived at Meridian TH shortly after 7am. Been feeling the holiday yucks, so plan was to hike to the saddle and back for total of 4 miles. Felt good upon approaching the saddle. Guess I just needed to get moving. Decided to continue on and complete the 8 mile loop. Not my best results, but a pretty strong outing consider I've been a little light on my hiking and exercise lately.
Pass Mountain Loop Trail #282
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Counter-clockwise from Meridian TH. Woke up early and started my hustle up the mountain in the dark. Headlamp off at about 1.5 mile mark.

3.6 mph average after mile 2
3.8 mph after mile 3
4.0 mph after mile 4
4.2 mph after mile 5
4.4 mph after mile 6, then started running out of steam.
4.4 mph after 7 and 7.6. No more gas in the tank.

Just 50 seconds off my best, so can't complain. Need to start hitting this loop a little more often.

Permit $$
Maricopa Regional Parks - Fees more info

$7 per vehicle,$85 annual or trade your first born for the life pass

$2 walk, bike or horse ride into park

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To Usery Wind Cave Trailhead
Directions to Usery Park: From the west on the 202 (Red Mountain Freeway) continue on PAST the FIRST McKellips exit ~10 mi, past Power Rd and take the SECOND McKellips exit. At the top continue on to your left around the round-about over the 202 and continue east on McKellips Rd. About 3 miles east of the 202 you come to Ellsworth Rd. Turn LEFT on Ellsworth and go north about 2 miles, turning right into Usery Mountain Regional Park just past the sign.
From the south on the 202, take the McKellips exit and head east, continuing to Ellsworth as above.

From the west on US 60 take the Ellsworth exit and head north on Ellsworth which eventually becomes Usery Pass Road north of McKellips. Continue past McKellips about 2 miles, turning right into Usery Mountain Regional Park just past the sign.

Directions to the Wind Cave trail head: Once in the park, continue on past the new (Spring 2010) Nature Center building to the information/entrance building where you either purchase a one-day pass or purchase an annual pass (good in all Maricopa Parks except Lake Pleasant) for seniors. If it's your first visit, be sure to ask for a map including information of the all 29 miles of trails in the park. After setting your pass receipt on your dash, continue on the road as it curves around toward the east. Continue past the four-way intersection until Wind Cave Drive on your left. Turn up the drive and follow it until you find a suitable parking place. If it's busy just continue on around the one-way loop until you find an empty spot along the road. The trail head itself is immediately to your right when looking at the Wind Cave facilities building.

Alternate Longer Access: For $2 per-person access turn right (east) off Ellsworth Road at McKellips road and drive about a mile until it ends at Crismon Rd. There is a parking on the SW corner. Entrance to the park is on the NE corner, there are maps and a payment box. The trail that heads north is loose and hard to walk, go east 1/2 mile to trail then head north 1 mile to horse staging area. Starting from this point adds about 5 miles to your round-trip hike to the Wind Cave Trailhead. Also about 150 feet in gain.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 34.8 mi - about 43 mins (up to 1 hour 10 mins in traffic)
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 128 mi - about 2 hours 0 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 173 mi - about 2 hours 45 mins
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