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Ranger Trail - South Mountain, AZ

no permit
199 180 1
Guide 180 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > South Mtn
2.8 of 5 by 30
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 1.8 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,460 feet
Elevation Gain 804 feet
Accumulated Gain 804 feet
Avg Time One Way 1 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 4.48
Backpack No
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Collective Slideshow
Inaugural Calculation next Tap
4  2018-10-21
Pyramid Trail - South Mountain
4  2018-05-12
Maricopa Peak
14  2018-03-02
Twin Peaks- SoMo
8  2018-01-06
Tukey GRidge Lomitas Loop
30  2017-12-06
Bajada Trail-National Trail Loop
3  2017-11-18
Maricopa Peak via Pyramid Trailhead
8  2017-03-12
7  2017-02-26
Somo Wildflower Recon
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5,  6
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Feb, Mar, Jan, Dec → 7 AM
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:59am - 5:27pm
Route Scout App
Official Route
24 Linked
Nearby Area Water
Goat Hill via Ranger Trail
Goat Hill via Ranger Trail
0.2 mi away
3.7 mi
1,041 ft
Hideout Loop Trail
Hideout Loop Trail
0.3 mi away
0.4 mi
20 ft
Derby Loop Trail - South Mountain
Derby Loop Trail - South Mountain
0.5 mi away
0.5 mi
49 ft
Kiwanis Trail - South Mountain
Kiwanis Trail - South Mountain
0.5 mi away
1.1 mi
418 ft
Crosscut Trail - South Mountain
0.6 mi away
0.9 mi
10 ft
Judith Tunell Interpretive Trail - South Mtn
Judith Tunell Interpretive Trail - South Mtn
0.6 mi away
0.5 mi
25 ft
Bajada Trail - South Mountain
Bajada Trail - South Mountain
0.7 mi away
3.5 mi
289 ft
Box Canyon - South Mountain
Box Canyon - South Mountain
0.7 mi away
Los Lomitas Trail - South Mountain
Los Lomitas Trail - South Mountain
0.8 mi away
2.3 mi
271 ft
Max Delta
0.9 mi away
2.4 mi
395 ft
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Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Hotter than Hell!
by joebartels

Thumbing through a thesaurus for hours won't make the Ranger Trail sound appealing. The back trails of Squaw Peak are thick forest compared to this lunar landscape.

Trailhead to Road 0.7mi / 290 ft
Hike through the frying pan. As you approach the mid road crossing the trail gains some elevation.

Welcome to the bleakest spot on the face of the earth. Where it's so bad it's interesting. This is a stroll through the sun burnt rocks created by roughly ten thousand years of nothing but heat. Garbage greets you like the highway from Phoenix to Tucson. Nobody looses sleep over hiking this section of trail. Nobody, it blows!

There is a positive side, even to this frying pan. Just come during a blazing wildflower season and you'll swear the bunnies are dancing.

Road to National Jnct +0.75 mi / +430 ft
Step up from awful to boring. The garbage comes to an abrupt halt. Obviously losers are deceived by the looming mountain mass.

Fear not! This is lazy switchback country with only a mild grunt near the upper end. Even a fat dog like myself would have a fighting chance of mountain biking this trail. You definitely couldn't say the same for several others where five feet gains five feet!

There still isn't much of anything in the vegetation department. A few Palo Verdes take the show. One ocotillo, likely brushed by Moses, is so thick you could start a log cabin with the limbs. Saguaros wouldn't have anything to do with a northern slope, especially this one. Barrel cacti appear sun scorched and twisted as if they're hurling.

Given all the bad you'd have to be blind to miss the lure. Inner city, heck outer city, views don't get much better. Sunsets bounce orange to red and yellow in serious hues between Alta, Goat and Butterfly peaks.


    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.

    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. From the entrance gate it is exactly 1.0 mile to left turn to Five Tables Picnic Area about 250 feet after turning. The turn is not permanently marked, temporary signs go up on occasion. There is a permanent sign to Three Stables just prior. If you turn here it quickly loops to Five Tables.

    Central Ave turns into San Juan Rd in the park. If you come to a triangle island in the road you have gone too far. Which is where Summit Road branches left and San Juan continues straight.

    0.5 mi after the entrance gate is a ranger / information / bathroom center. As with most if not all bathrooms in the park the stalls are third world open door deals. There is a water fountain and a soda vending machine with bottled water too.
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