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Hidden Valley via Pima Canyon, AZ

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Guide 322 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > South Mtn
3.1 of 5 by 35
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 6.15 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,387 feet
Elevation Gain 742 feet
Accumulated Gain 933 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 10.82
Backpack No
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
2  2019-09-11
Hot n sweaty
4  2019-04-29 LindaAnn
7  2019-02-22
National Trail - South Mountain
22  2018-10-02 Tortoise_Hiker
1  2018-07-10 Tortoise_Hiker
3  2018-01-30
Guadalupe Ridge - Pima Canyon Loop
3  2017-12-03 tincanbits
2  2017-04-14 jtaylor
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 10
Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,834
Trips 4,262 map ( 21,474 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb → Any
Seasons   Late Autumn
Sun  6:17am - 6:23pm
Official Route
10 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Explore Eastern South Mountain
by joebartels

I must admit, this area didn't appeal to me until just recently. The drought of 2002 has forced most of the forest to close. I've mountain biked the area extensively years ago. That's before I gave up mountain biking to keep the blood "in" my body. Not to mention I'm writing this up in June when any sane individual would pass on a Phoenix hike. But you know, when the cards are down, go with what you have. So I headed out at 4:30am two mornings in a row to capture my take on Hidden Valley from the Marco de Niza Trailhead!

Maybe you're reading this in the winter thinking what's the big deal. Well, on this day for instance, it's going to be 110 degrees in Phoenix. Probably with 7% humidity. The general idea in the summer is to bail big time and hit the pines! Since that isn't possible this year, I'm offering my take on the next best thing without racking up 300 miles in the car. Like I said, I did this two mornings in a row. Not because I had to, just because it was so friggin cool the first time I had to do it again! No kidding! The key is the EARLY start. Yes, way before the sun kisses the Sonoran Desert.

From the Marcos De Niza Trailhead ( now new Pima Canyon ) head out on the dirt road into Pima Canyon. It's 1.1 miles and 175 elevation gain down the road to ( old ) Pima Canyon Trailhead. I guess long ago you could drive to Pima Canyon Trailhead. That's a thing of the past. I'm sure they had problems with parties at night as it is well hidden from the surrounding city. No biggie, it's a pleasant walk. In fact I'd call it one of the best mixtures of company in the valley. You have all the age ranges. Then you mix in hikers, joggers & mountain bikers. Add all that into one densely populated section of Phoenix and there you have it.

The trail curves around before dipping into a wash marking the "official" start of the National Trail. If you started at 4:30am in June as I did, you're still ahead of the daily sunrise. It wasn't "dark" up until this point either, just no sunshine. I'll add on that it's mighty refreshing too. Whoohoo! - Summertime chills in the desert! As with any morning hike the company is top notch. Probably an 80% "hello" rate. Anyhow... immediately onto the National Trail you're gaining elevation. It's not much of push gaining the final 550 feet in elevation, but you'll notice it here. In fact, it's enough to make most mountain bikers take the easier Mormon Trail up the mountain.

As you gain elevation you're greeted by a wonderful sunrise. In June the sun was nudging the southern most peak of the Four Peaks as it rose from the horizon. What makes this early morning hike so magnificent are the shadows. The trail is lined with many blackened boulders and weaves about. Keep in mind this is major mountain biking terrain. However, an early start puts you ahead of the game. I didn't pass one mountain biker until the return trip. This stretch between Pima Canyon Trailhead to the Hidden valley turnoff is 1.35 miles. The grade is moderate, averaging 13% through the most part. One short section is steep at 31% which you can't imagine a bicycle going up, but they do! I tried for years but it was too much for me.

At the Hidden Valley turnoff you'll travel 0.45 miles through Hidden Valley. Which is really a shortcut cause it's 0.6 miles back on the National Trail to the same point. Okay, onto Hidden Valley Trail. You'll immediately pass through the tunnel. Now you're truly in a valley hidden from the surrounding city. This short stretch is gold in my book. Boulder that appear to be huge shaved off wafers and such are scattered about in addition to some interesting sculptures. Not likely on your trip but shortly after the tunnel I encountered a huge gathering of bees on the side of a rock.

The trail may be tricky to navigate your first few times through Hidden Valley. Not to worry, you won't really get lost. I've been up here once after a rain and let me tell you this place turns into a playground. Since I got an early start this time out the sun was just piercing into Hidden Valley. I lucked out taking a photo. A hummingbird zipped right by and I caught him in a photo about two feet away. You'll need to negotiate two rock slides along the way before reaching Fat Man's Pass, originally called "Wonder Rift" on early topo maps. Which is an amazing curvature of rock with the slightest gap throughout. From there it's back home on the National Trail. Before reaching the Hidden Valley turn you originally took you'll pass the Mormon turnoff. You could take a variation back home.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2002-06-13 joebartels
    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 92 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Hidden Valley via Pima Canyon
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    Another nice mid morning hike with Linda. A little warm but a breeze for the second half of the hike made it bearable. Linda even brought a couple clouds with her for a nice surprise. We were greeted by another Roadrunner and a couple chuckwallas in place of a rattlesnake 😳😁. Good hike and company 😁.
    Hidden Valley via Pima Canyon
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    Kelly reminded me that there is no crying in hiking. So I gave Linda my word and she let me join her on this mid morning hike. 🥴 With the breeze it didn’t feel to bad out there. Words out that Linda is Roadrunner friendly. We were greeted by three today. The 🐝 are still by the tunnel and lizards 🦎 in leaves still scare the begeebeez out of me. Good hike. Great company. Thanks Linda, you rock!
    Hidden Valley via Pima Canyon
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    Hardly any traffic getting through Ahwatukee this morning, and I actually made it to the trailhead by 7:30. Denny & I decided to keep it simple and skip Marcos at the start, taking the road to National instead. Headed up Mormon Loop, accompanied by a great breeze, which we had for most of the hike. Dropped into Hidden Valley at Fat Man’s Pass, then took National back down. Bees are still by the tunnel. Some new signage along National in a few places—mostly for the Maricopa Trail. Not a whole lot of people out, the parking lot was pretty empty when we finished. Saw a few roadrunners, and a pile of dead leaves that made us both jump a mile when the breeze and a small lizard rattled the leaves. Luckily no one else was around to see that :lol: Great hike and good to see Denny again after a few missed Thursdays.
    Hidden Valley via Pima Canyon
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    Saturday I usually pick excuses off a list I have of a dozen reasons not to get outside and do something :oops: . Today the weather overruled me and I manage to roll out about 930am. Hit my local favorite, South Mountain. Hello humidity! Most I've sweating this season on the trail. Nice overcast skies with a breeze and a few sprinkles. I saw my first millipede of the season. I think this year I've seen more whitewinged dove then any other year. Good to get out! :D
    Hidden Valley via Pima Canyon
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    OMG, I almost didn't fit ](*,) . This new schedule at work is added to my excuses to eat more and get less exercise. Might need and intervention. I'm sure Bruce could(would) be willing to slap some sense back into me. Help buddy...... no will power.... 8-[ :lone:
    Hidden Valley via Pima Canyon
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    The only benefit to 80 degree days in January is the perfect evening temps. I talked Chumley into joining me with the promise of checking out some cool toilets or something. We went up Marcos, then Guadalupe Ridge, taking National back east with a trip through Hidden Valley. Moonlight was more than enough, we never needed headlamps. Didn't see anyone else after we finished Marcos.

    The upgraded trailhead is kind of lame. I'm not sure what they worked on for 5 months. But, it's a place to park, don't really need anything else. Despite starting & ending route scout at the same time, and both using the same model of phone, Chumley managed to get 1/4 mile more than me--route scout must measure words spoken as bonus distance!
    Hidden Valley via Pima Canyon
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    Guadalupe Ridge - Pima Canyon Loop
    I haven’t been able to get out lately so an opportunity to knock out a few miles on a weekday evening fit the bill. The new speed bumps on the Pima trailhead road are worth $1 million each. They’re named Everest, K2, Lhotse, and Annapurna. I recommend caution while crossing them.

    I’m not sure how I agreed to Guadalupe Ridge because I hate the climb. But I managed to not complain too much. Surprisingly after half a mile there wasn’t another person visible for the rest of the hike. Possibly because nobody used a headlamp due to the prolific moonlight.

    I didn’t bother to check out Denny's pfancy new prison toilets despite nature’s call.
    Hidden Valley via Pima Canyon
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    After getting Todd's tidbit of information on this trailhead reopening today, I felt obligated to go check it out. I guess not everyone got the news. There was plenty of parking today. Albeit the weather was iffy. The new pavement will be nice for the bike riders. Come to think of it I didn't see a bike rack. That's hard to believe. Maybe I just missed it. I spoke to the ranger in somewhat disbelief. The bathrooms are out of order?!?! Yep, they didn't make it one day. They quit flushing. They rushed in five port-a-jons for now. Well it was nice to hit an ol favorite. Lets hope they get the kinks out soon. Thankful for the improvements.
    Hidden Valley via Pima Canyon
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    Evening hike with Whitney & Stephanie, so maintaining a steady supply of inappropriate conversation was never a concern. As we started, we saw a small snake near the trailhead; neither of my hiking partners seemed happy about that. We headed up the road, then Mormon Loop. Lot of bugs out tonight, especially in Hidden Valley. We came down National, and the road again. Once again, not too far from the trailhead was another snake, a diamondback this time. It was stretched across the trail and was easy to spot from a good distance. We took a few pictures and encouraged it to move off the trail before we continued on our way.
    Hidden Valley via Pima Canyon
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    I traded one sick kid for the other, but was still able to finally squeeze in a Sunday evening hike with Whitney. We started a little after 6:00 to perfect temps, which stayed that way all evening. Quite a few people out tonight, especially during the first half of the hike. Went up West Loop, Ridgeline, then Mormon Loop, came down through Hidden Valley, National, and the road. Lots of bugs out tonight, and plenty of other critters too, but no snakes. I managed to slip on a sandy rock while coming down National, and made a spectacularly graceful landing on the ground. Nothing of any concern, but I can already tell my arm will be sore tomorrow.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To Pima Canyon Trailhead
    This one is a little tough to locate if you're not from the area. It's near Guadalupe Rd. The issue at hand is there are no on-off ramps for Guadalupe Rd. Instead get off south a mile on Elliot and follow 48th Street north.

    Pima Canyon Trailhead is located west off of 48th Street just south of Guadalupe Road. It's all rather confusing. Your first time just go to the intersection of Guadalupe & 48th then head south. Take the first right and an immediate left into South Mountain/Phx Preserves Park. Follow the access road passing the golf course all the way to the trailhead.

    Pima Canyon Trailhead and Marco de Niza Trailhead are one and the same now. Long ago the road continued to Pima Canyon Trailhead.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 10.9 mi - about 18 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 101 mi - about 1 hour 32 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 155 mi - about 2 hours 25 mins
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