Popular Neighborhood Loop
Overview: This hike will not challenge many hikers, but it's very popular with neighborhood residents. It's a great way to stretch your legs if you're short on time.
Warning: This area is very popular with mountain bikers. There were a lot more horses on the trails in this area when I was a kid, but they're pretty rare these days.
History: The Dreamy Draw area formerly had many active mining claims. Mercury Mine Elementary School (where I went to grade school) is aptly named due to the numerous mercury mines that used to operate in the area. In 1916 Sam Hughes discovered cinnabar (a mercury sulfide), and built the Rico Mine. The Rico Mine site is now buried under State Route 51 (Piestewa Parkway). Mercury Mine School is located about 100 yards from the old Victoria Mine. There are numerous filled-in shafts and holes in the ground that are evidence of this area's mining past. An interesting note is that Dreamy Draw was named for the effects of inhaling mercury vapor.
Hike: This is a lasso loop that is popular with neighborhood residents and hikers coming out of the Dreamy Draw Recreation Area. Start at the northeast end of Dreamy Draw Rec. Area. Look for the map kiosk. Walk past the map, and cross the dry creekbed. There is a water catchment just downstream from this spot (a short spur trail takes you from this trail to the spot, and it can also be accessed from the parking lot) that can be interesting after rain. The trail here is the Charles M. Christiansen #100. The trail goes through a tunnel under SR 51 (Piestewa Parkway), and quickly ascends to a junction about 200 yards north of the end the tunnel. This is where the loop begins: go left (west) to stay on the CMC Trail #100, or right (east) to take the well-used unofficial trail portion.
Going west from the junction the trail gains a little bit of elevation, and there's a small mountain to the south that blocks a little bit of the noise from the freeway. Soon enough the trail descends into the large flat area just north of the spot where the freeway turns from north-south to east-west before it enters Dreamy Draw. The trail quickly bottoms out as it skirts the west side of the newly-renamed Veterans Mountain. There's a mildly interesting story behind the renaming of Peak 1922 to Veterans Mountain.
The trail begins a moderate gain as it turns to the northeast. It tops out as a small saddle between Veterans' Mountain and the southern end of Stoney Mountain, and there are great views of Phoenix, South Mountain, and points beyond. The trail continues clockwise around Veterans Mountain downhill to a junction a few hundred yards from the saddle. Go left (north) at the junction to reach the Mountain View Trailhead (unofficial with no amenities other than a few places to park at the end of the cul-de-sac and signage), or go right to head back towards Dreamy Draw Rec. Area.
The trail contours around the north side of Veterans Mountain then begins a nice little climb before rapidly descending to the east side of the mountain. You may notice some spur trails that run to neighboring subdivisions, but stay right and the main trail is easily followed. One note is that the portion of the trail between the junction on the north side of the mountain and Dreamy Draw Rec. Area that runs along the east side is NOT on the CMC Trail #100, though it sees as much use as the official portion that runs along the west side.
The trail makes its way to the south side of the mountain, and quickly hits the junction that leads back to the tunnel.
To reach this lasso loop from the Mountain View Trailhead simply follow the access trail up from the cul-de-sac, and turn left at the CMC Trail #100.
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.