Easy Side Excursion
Cat's Peak Loop is an often overlooked side excursion trip that is accessed from Pass Mountain Trail in the Usery Mountain Recreation Area. It's a relatively flat trail that follows the terrain on the south side of Pass Mountain and is perfect for families, healthy seniors and injured middle-aged hikers like me! I've hiked Pass Mountain Loop at least half a dozen times in the past and never even took this trail but decided today was a good day to check it out. I tore an ankle tendon several months ago and this was a perfect trail to test out the ankle.
You can access this trail two ways. If you park at the main TH and pay the fee, you can head east on Pass Mountain Trail for a little over a mile and you'll see Cat's Peak on your right. You can also bypass the fee entirely and park at a small TH at the end of Meridian Road (NO FEE!!!!) and then head west across the wash and then southwest on Pass Mountain Trail for a mile and Cat's Peak will be on your left. The junction is well marked. I hiked it counterclockwise on this sunny Easter morning.
The trail itself is pretty hum-drum but is pretty at this time of year due to the colors and abundance of wildflowers. Lots of Brittlebush, Lupine, Fairy Dusters, Globemallow, Mexican Gold Poppies and Thistles were observed. The hedgehog cacti are just beginning to bloom in all their fuchsia splendor. I also saw lots of blooms on the prickly pears. There is no shade at all so I would recommend hiking this only in winter months through March. The loop hike was easy hiking as it circumnavigates Cat's Peak (2,144 ft). A nice off trail excursion might be to hike up the peak. However, I'd be careful as to the time of year you decide to do any off trail in this park since I encountered 2 rattlesnakes this morning... both on Cat's Peak Loop and none on Pass Mountain Trail.
It's a pretty easy and nice trail close to home. I would recommend it as a place to take out of town visitors in the spring for the wildflowers.
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.