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low key loop
Nature Trail #304 is a popular hike for families with little kids or anyone looking for a more leisurely hike with changing views.
From Apache Trailhead, three trails lead north. All are Trail #304, which is a true loop. Left at the large metal sign is counterclockwise. Both right options are clockwise and merge within two seconds. All immediately dip through a deep-cut ravine.
Clockwise favors easier ascents. Counterclockwise favors safer footing. I'm all about safety, so I headed right. The initial ravine is over quick, and then it's a gentle ascent. Ruth Hamilton Trail #8B junction is passed within minutes. Another minute passes, and you come to a moderate ravine with nice steps down.
Continuing up is the steepest part of the trail to a saddle. The footing is better going up, in my opinion. The 170 ft ascent is the most challenging grade on this trail. Hence why this is the most popular loop for young children. Trouble is minimal. Turn around to safety is near. It's a nice little loop to boot.
From the saddle you have distant southwest & northeast views out of the preserves. Continuing all junctions will be left turns. Not always, but as of 2020, signage for #304 is excellent. It's always reassuring to have a loaded GPS route.
The trail drops through Tatum Wash. 210 ft out of the ravine is your first left. Soon you merge with Perl Charles Trail #1A. Before you know it the second and final left turn comes at a bench merging with Freedom Trail #302, popularly known as the Circumference Trail which circles Piestewa Peak.
That left turn has you heading south. After a gentle dip through a ravine, it's downhill back to Apache Trailhead.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.