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Bajada Trail - South Mountain, AZ

no permit
503 125 1
Guide 125 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > South Mtn
2.1 of 5 by 32
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 3.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,588 feet
Elevation Gain -300 feet
Accumulated Gain 289 feet
Avg Time One Way 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 4.46
Backpack No
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
7  2019-01-29
Max Delta - T-Bone - Alta - Bajada Loop
8  2018-11-18 mt98dew
13  2018-06-03
Alta - Bajada Loop
4  2018-05-12
Maricopa Peak
34  2018-03-03
Alta - Bajada Loop
5  2018-03-03
Alta - Bajada Loop
2  2018-03-03
Alta - Bajada Loop
4  2018-03-03
Alta - Bajada Loop
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 7
Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,825
Trips 4,261 map ( 21,471 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Feb, Mar, - -, - - → 10 AM
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:16am - 6:27pm
Official Route
20 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Poppy Wonderland
by joebartels

This is one of the easiest trails at South Mountain with good views under choice conditions. You have the choice of enjoying this route as an out-n-back, shuttle or part of a larger loop. Mountain biking is also an option, and great for beginners. Just watch out for those ravines where you might need to hike the bike.

If you hike this trail at 2pm in July you'll think it's the crappiest experience in your life. An early February excursion with wildflowers will leave you with impressions of la la land. The key to wildflowers is a wet winter, usually Nov-Jan. Mexican Gold Poppies blanket the hillside with nice accents of Coulter's Lupine. It's really a site to see! Which by the way is easy enough for children and the elderly. There's no need to go the entire distance, just turn around when the family has had enough.

The wildflowers are great and obviously the main attraction. However I'd like to share another unique opportunity. Sunrise, anytime of the year hiking from east to west. The view of Butterfly Peak (Sierra Estrella Range) in the distance is beautiful beyond words. The sun lights up the steep ravines casting shadows, which in turn gives depth perception. I simply love it! What makes it so special is you're in the middle of a city and you'd never know it.

This trail also plays a major roll in two looping options. The Bajada Trail itself skirts the lower-northern-flank of the Gila Range. Atop the Gila Range is a section of the National Trail. As seen in the map below you can create a loop with the Ranger Trail. This would be my loop of choice. The popular loop is with the Alta Trail (Ma Ha Tuak Range). Which gives you fascinating views of downtown Phoenix Arizona!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2001-02-17 joebartels

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    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 43 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Bajada Trail - South Mountain
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    An enjoyable loop with a great group of people. I really like the Alta trail, and Maricopa Peak beats any other in the park in my opinion (sorry @trekkin_gecko! :oops: )

    It was a nice day, but actually got a bit warm on the last couple miles down on the plains where the buffalo roam.

    If you weren't able to join us, be assured you were not forgotten (or unmentioned) :sweat: .

    Great to hike with Denny and Angela again. And I guess 9L and Linda too. I wish hiking partners would bring snacks to share as a regular occurrence! :)
    Bajada Trail - South Mountain
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    Yes, I was hiking with the gazelles today but they were moseying on my account I'm sure so I appreciated not being left too far behind as bait :lol:. It was a nice morning for my fifth time hiking in South Mountain Park.

    Alta Trail from east side The hike starts off on a very slight incline until it starts going up the side of a mountain switching back and forth in a very nice and pleasant grade. Linda led the way and was keeping a very moderate pace as we made our way up to a bit of a ridge crossing on both sides of it. She pointed out some items of interest and Denny showed us his favorite tree as it appears a few times along here. I heard the group speaking about someone down below but I thot they were talking about any hiker, I didn't realize they were talking about John9L and suddenly he was at my six as they say. He was breathing hard though as he had made quite the effort to get caught up as he had started on the wrong trail.

    And now there were four ducks in a row hi ho, hi ho....oh wait, that's dwarfs, hi ho, hi ho (channeling my inner Joe Bartels :D ) We continued along the upper side before crossing over to the north side with views of the city and ahead to the Estrella. You could see the peak right in front of you and I thot, not too far but then John informed me we would be going all the way around and up the back side. Well shoot. And now we're going down and down and back up and then down again before we finally just continued up the back side. Todd did a little stop for me to catch my breath during all this.

    Finally we arrive at the saddle looking at the west side of Maricopa Peak and a ridgeline hike up slightly to it. So over we went, John was already there by the time we got done chatting at the saddle. The view from the saddle is 360 so it's pretty nice. We made our way over to the peak and up on top. We hung out for longer than I thot they would. Chumley fixed Joe's hat (my hat) as the rim had separated from the body. They each took the opportunity to see what they would look like in the hat [ photo ] with great results I think.

    And now to get down from here and down and down and down. We paused at the saddle to make some observations and then started the switchbacks to the valley floor... This took awhile as the footing is not the best in some areas and it's just a longer trek than it looks from the saddle. We encountered quite a few hikers on the way, passed one group on their way down otherwise everyone was headed up. We reached the bottom and headed southish on the National Trail. From here it is a slog just as promised. As we were going thru this one section, Chumley mentioned something about buffalo.

    We took a break at the big wash where I explained that there aren't any buffalo here, it would be bison :) . Todd warned me that for the last two miles there was 300 feet of negligible elevation gain and he was sure right. I mostly noticed it because I was a little tired. I still don't have my stamina up to where I would like it and I think that's just a matter of consistently hiking more higher mileage hikes. John took off and I didn't see him until we got back to the TH. Soon Linda and Chumley also built up space between me and Denny. Denny was kind enough to hang back which was nice as the conversation made those two miles go by faster and easier. It's actually not a bad grade but it seemed a bit warm, even with the breeze.

    Finally we crossed over the wash and to the cars. While having some Tibber snacks and a beer and gatorade I shared, we saw a hang glider in the distance and watched him sail with the wind until he didn't and he came to the ground. It was a good hike but I agree with the others, an out and back to the Peak via Alta would be the preferred route. I thot the hike to the Peak was pretty cool, especially the first up on the Alta to that ridge.

    Thx Todd for putting this together. It was great to finally hike with Linda for the first time altho I feel like I somewhat knew her already. And good to catch up with John and Denny too. The drive on 7th St from the freeway to the Park is always interesting too. And as promised, a video of the hike and some hang glider at the end. The new stabilization on youtube starts the pics out a little blurry and then brings them into focus. It didn't used to do that so hopefully they'll get enough complaints. Update, I learned that it was my slide transitions that caused the focus issues so I adjusted the transitions and now it's much better. Here is the new link - [ youtube video ]
    Bajada Trail - South Mountain
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    It's been awhile since I've visited the Bajada to do the Bajada. I did this as an in and out. It's not one of my favorite trails to can be rocky to run on which means it's an "eyes on the trail" kind of trail. Still it has some nice hills that got me puffing and it was a nice distance for jogging. The knees and feet flared a little bit, but nothing that I couldn't run through. Wildlife was non existent. Not one lizard. Though I did see some quail with babies and a road runner as I was exiting the park. Did see anyone until the last mile.
    Bajada Trail - South Mountain
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    planned on doing some kind of goat hill hike
    parked at ranger trailhead as there is more room on weekends
    got to the intersection with bajada and thought i would check out the poppies that denny has mentioned
    abundant poppy fields, some lupine, brittlebush, creosote, lots of scorpion weed and a few globemallow
    made bajada quite enjoyable (bajada should only be in season during the month of march)
    hadn't hiked the piece between ranger and the triangle - my life is now complete :)
    stopped at the bajada trailhead to make sure i would skip the icky part of national if i continued west
    up national, hit goat hill along the way, down ranger
    very few wildflowers aside from bajada, just a few pockets on the other trails
    saw less than a dozen people; not bad for a weekend south mountain hike
    nice loop
    ended up going twice as far as intended
    double digits
    Bajada Trail - South Mountain
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    My daughter agreed to get up early and go hiking with me at 7 AM. We left the house at 11:30. Hard to get teenagers up in the morning! We hiked the Bajada east from the triangle to the Ranger, then down through some poppies looping back up to the Bajada. Good wildflower show but it will be fading fast in this heat. Very busy on the roads, quiet on the trail. :)
    Bajada Trail - South Mountain
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Somo Wildflower Recon
    Checking out the wildflowers on South Mountain was this hike's objective. Denny's pics of the Bajada looked good, so I wanted to get over that way. Started hiking from the Chandler Blvd trailhead. Up Ruins, east on National to Goat Hill, down Ranger, west on Bajada, east on National, east on Bursera, east on Gila/Valley View.

    Wildflowers can be seen on all the trails. Poppies are in abundance. Nothing overwhelming, but a nice show. I saw poppies on 80% of the hike. Very nice day. Saw Sreeeram and friends on the Bajada finishing their Alta hike. :)
    Bajada Trail - South Mountain
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    Poppies scattered king style with a smaller yellow making a run too. The green berber ground cover is coming in. Yet thinner than the super bloom of January 2001 so it doesn't look as full. I didn't notice colors other than yellow which adds to the punch too. Currently resembles the late Feb early March run of 2008. Forecasted rain in 4 days might get the choir singing.

    Smattering across the rolling inner basin hills. Notably western, though I did see 'em to Kiwanis trailhead. Probably a million poppies based on the random guess method.
    Bajada Trail - South Mountain
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrating optionrated 1
    I had planned to hike to Peter's Cave, but I figured the water might be up a bit too much with the recent downpours, plus my right arm is messed up and I did not want to do any excessive scrambling. Since it has been six years (and 12 days) since I was last did this loop, I figured I would make another visit. Plus, it would give me a chance to do an interim survey of some of the areas at the far end of the park, midway between my semiannual (April & October) Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway right-of-way hikes.

    San Juan Road was closed off. Again. Is it ever open?

    I parked at the "triangle" (the intersection of San Juan Rd and Summit Rd). At 0730, it was 42 in Phoenix, but only 35 at South Mountain. I wore a windbreaker. I went east down Bajada, then up Ranger. After I crossed Summit Road, the shooting started at the nearby range. I also heard coyotes.

    I skipped Goat Hill last time; this time, I initially walked by the trail. The short summit trail was steep & slippery. Great 360 views.

    On the way west on National, I checked out every prospect / mine, all of which I had merely eyeballed six years ago.

    When I got to Bursera, I turned left/south. After descending into the valley, I turned west on Gila Trail, which at that point is a jeep trail. As I walked along Gila to the housing development, I realized my crappy Garmin 62S was going haywire, tracking me on top of a nearby ridge, instead of along the rather deep wash.

    The housing area does not appear to have changed much in three months. After tearing down all the houses along Pecos Rd and in the Dusty Lane community behind the Vee Quiva Casino, it seems kind of wierd that a *new* development would go in between the two. Or that they would build it nearly up to the edge of the soon-to-be north bound lanes of the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway.

    Since I've been in the area so many times, I knew where I was despite my crappy Garmin 62S being so off, and I eventually found my way back onto National, and then Bajada, which is a drag with it's constant wash crossings.

    Hike Video: [ youtube video ]
    Bajada Trail - South Mountain
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Great way to start the year! Assembled my A team hiker buddies Maria and Curt and hit South Mountain for the Alta Bajada loop. Parked at 43rd Ave trail head. Was concerned that standing water would be a problem, but there was none. Took a side trip up to Maricopa Peak. Saw a big old javelina on the trail, who bolted straight down the side of the mountain once he heard us coming up on him. No one expected to see that guy so far up the side of the mountain! We saw a fair number of other hikers on the loop.
    Bajada Trail - South Mountain
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    Only had time for a quick one today, I had to make it home to go to the science fair at my daughter's school. I thought I would revisit this hike, good combo of elevation gain and solitude to meet my needs. Pulled in to the 19th avenue parking lot about 3:30 and was the only vehicle there. Made good time around and did the CCW loop. I saw a grand total of three other people while out there, just about perfect. Finished up a fantastic weather hike right before the wind kicked up, and then had a solid 45 minutes trying to chug up the I-17 to the school. Good times!

    Most things are done blooming out here right now, but the Ironwoods are giving a great show still.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Phoenix, head straight down Central, keep going and going until it hits South Mountain. The road curves west passing an entrance gate. Pass the information/bathroom center...

    This trail can be accessed several ways. It starts 0.45mi up the Ranger Trail. You can cut into the middle near where Summit Road takes off from San Juan. The key is to park inside the triangle or you will be ticketed. As of 2011 San Juan has been closed for years. It is open on occasion. Most specifically when wildflowers are at peak. Then you can park where the Alta/Bajada meet or at the west end where Bajada ends at the National Trail.
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