an easy hike in Mesa
A few weeks ago someone posted a question about an easy hike in Mesa. This trail answers that request. The Meridian Trail from trailhead out and back is less than 2 miles. The trail ends at the Cat Peak area just south of Pass Mountains. This area is all within Usery Mountain Park. The trail(s) are well marked and easy to follow. The Meridian Trail starts from Meridian Road. The trailhead is on the west side of the road. There is enough room to pull your vehicle off and away from traffic. Don't confuse this trailhead with the trailhead at the northern terminus of Meridian Road. The Meridian Trail trailhead is considered local access only, but there is room to park as I said.
From the trailhead you can see where you are headed. There are two small peaks due west. Start walking. The trail is easy to follow, straight, and for the most part smooth. As the accompanying photos reveal, this trail is used a great deal by mountain bikers. We encountered a few on the trail as well as a group on horseback. Which reminds me... watch for road apples, they were everywhere on the trail. The Meridian trail will branch off to the south (left) on two separate trails. The first one you will encounter is the County Line Trail. This trail is also referred to as the Palo Verde Trail. The next trail will be the Spillway Trail, which you will pass after crossing a wash. Continue hiking west on the Meridian Trail. At this point you can't help but notice the rather large peaks directly to your right, or north. You may also notice the small cave in the closer peak, with a short spur trail heading up to it. You are looking at Cat Peak. At this point, you have had minimal elevation gain.
At about 8/10ths of a mile you hit Cat Peak Trail. Here you have an option. If you continue west on Meridian, the trail ends in about another 10th of a mile at a trail marker indicating the Blevins Trail, which continues west. You can continue on or turn around and head back to the trailhead. If you take Cat Peak Trail north (right) the trail will wind around the peak and connect to Cat Peak Pass Trail. The total distance is less than a 2/10ths of a mile. Cat Peak Pass Trail turns south and heads up to the Cat Peak Pass. From the pass you have wonderful views of the desert as well as Pass Mountains. To the west is a short spur trail heading to the peak. This is not a maintained trail and it is eroded. The peak area is a popular hangout, as the litter and broken glass reveal. Although it is not bad by any means, it certainly does distract.
From the pass, continue heading south as the trail descends from the pass. Within a hundred yards or so you connect with Blevins Trail. Turn left, and head back east. Within a few minutes you will return to the Meridian Trail. Head back the way you came. This hike would be a great short hike for visitors from back east, for families with children, or a father/son hike. The Cat Peak area allows for exploring but still remaining relatively safe. You are close to civilization, as the Meridian Trail follows a fence line and short road with homes. I plan to explore the area in more detail, but will be riding my mountain bike to do so.
Make sure you yield to horses, as they are plentiful. Connecting trails provide countless options, as the Pass Mountain Trail, Blevins Trail and Merkle Trail are all nearby.
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.