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Hidden Valley from Buena Vista, AZ

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Guide 138 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > South Mtn
3.3 of 5 by 29
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 4.25 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,320 feet
Elevation Gain -475 feet
Accumulated Gain 850 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2-2.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 8.5
Backpack No
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2  2019-05-05
Mormon Trail - South Mountain
7  2019-02-22
National Trail - South Mountain
5  2018-12-06 survivordude
3  2018-01-30
Guadalupe Ridge - Pima Canyon Loop
6  2017-02-05 Tortoise_Hiker
10  2016-12-23 LindaAnn
2  2016-05-20
Geronimo Trail - South Mountain
20  2015-05-18 RowdyandMe
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5,  6
Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,825
Trips 4,259 map ( 21,438 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Dec, Feb, Mar → Any
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:15am - 6:26pm
Official Route
9 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Desert Playground
by joebartels

Survey results from 1999 named Hidden Valley as the most requested trail. Honestly, I wasn't looking forward to the hike having mountain biked the area several years ago. Now after the hike I have a different view of the area.

Yes I am likely the lone idiot to have mountain biked South Mountain on the hottest day ever recorded in Phoenix. It was 122 degrees. I downed two water backpack reservoirs and two water bottles on the frame. At the end of the day I was eight pounds lighter.

Today I put those worries behind me. A cool 82 degree February afternoon was perfect South Mountain strolling weather! Memories left me believing this was a hill covered with mammoth cow patty shaped rocks. Today I was a bit more impressed with the surrounding area. A rare clear day presented itself. I put the mountain range skills into effect. Pointing out the Sups, Four Peaks, Pine Mtn, Mt Oro, the continuing Mazatzals, McDowell, Bradshaw, Whitetank and Estrella Mountains along with Camelback and Squaw Peak Mountain Preserves too. This was necessary as days before I felt a tad under par. A beautiful young lady asked what are those mountains as I stood upon Wasson's Peak. Not knowing the Tucson area I said Catalina's "I think"?!

Hike From the trailhead head on out. You will be following a section of the National Trail out to the Hidden Valley Lasso Loop. Immediately the trail skirts the mountain then soon goes to solid ground for the remainder of the hike. Be on the lookout for mountain bikers even though you have the right-of-way. This section of the National Trail is very flat for the most part. Mountain bikers love to open it up having battled countless steps earlier in their ride. The trail is easy to follow and fairly wide.

Turn right upon reaching the signed turnoff for Hidden Valley. Fatman Pass is encountered immediately, also called "Wonder Rift" on topo maps. This is a unique section where boulders leave a narrow gap you can try and squeeze through. Personally I never have given it a go, I just go over and look down into the narrow. Heading on the trail follows the wash in most places. You will be walking in three to four inch course pebble sand. Window Rock comes into play soon. Here again I go over. I do recommend the butt slide on the other side. At this point you really are in a hidden valley. It's pretty cool knowing you are in a valley above the Valley! Pass through this small valley. Just when you begin to wonder "did I loose the trail" keep following the wash. Bending to the right and back the wash will take you to the famous South Mountain Tunnel! This was pretty cool also. Staying to the left a six foot man can walk right though.

The National Trail is encountered soon after the Tunnel. Take a left and another left at the intersection with the Mormon Trail. It's easy hiking with little elevation gain back to your car at Buena Vista Lookout.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2000-02-07 joebartels
  • book
    area related
  • 100 Classic Hikes - 2007
    area related
    100 Classic Hikes - 2007
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 25 deeper Triplog Reviews
Hidden Valley from Buena Vista
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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 from Buena Vista
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I took my Grandkids, Isaac and Lily , to see Fat Man's Pass. They enjoyed it along with the tunnel and all the sliding opportunities in Hidden Valley. An added bonus we ran into Whitney and Stephanie right before we finished. Good to see you ladies! Great weather,company and hike! :y:
Hidden Valley from Buena Vista
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I went up Geronimo to Buena Vista. From there to Hidden Valley and back down on Mormon. I walked Euclid st. back to 20th st. and my car. The trails were not crowded at all. Everyone friendly. I heard one young couple talking about a Rim to Rim 8) . I saw a Blacktail and one Roadrunner 8) (not together) :) . Nice hike!
I almost forgot. Geronimo has a small reroute. The spot were you turn off on Geronimo to keep from going straight towards the boy scout camp has been changed. The turn has been blocked off and moved a little north. There is a trail pole there but the pole has no markings. You turn right at the pole. They added a long switchback then your back on the old trail. :D
Hidden Valley from Buena Vista
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Did you ever have one of those days when everything just felt right? Started out up the Marcos de Niza trail, then the Guadalupe Ridge trail to the end then a little of the National to the Buena Vista parking lot. Around the bench at the top of the Geronimo trail, then back down the National to Hidden Valley and through it, so I could claim this hike that I was missing. Back to the National backtracking to the Mormon Loop. Then feeling that I hadn't had all the elevation I wanted I continued on the Ridgeline trail. Even though I had made a few side trails, I still felt that the hike was too short, so I threw in a few other nondescript trails. In fact I only quit when I did because I was past due to return home. Everything just felt right today. Yup a great day for a hike.

A few wildflowers are starting to show. Globe mallows are opening up.
Hidden Valley from Buena Vista
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I've been itching to get back to South Mountain and finally hit the filet. 50-70 bikers on the park roads. One pack was probably thirty alone. Heading up I was already figuring out an alternate plan figuring parking would be full. It wasn't an issue and probably won't be for five months. Happy to see the park hours are back to 5am to 11pm!

Passed Brian right off the bat, which was a nice surprise. Explored around the rocks on the way in as usual. 6-8 mountain bikers. No pros, they all walked the obstacles. Around 12 hikers was more than anticipated. Slow going in photographing anything that looked neat. Nearing Hidden Valley the sun was broiling hot and Hikebot was starting to whimper. Almost cut it short then decided to put the camera away and walk it out.

If you see any between now and monsoon season you're probably hallucinating.
Hidden Valley from Buena Vista
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Little Gracemarie and I hit the trail a little before 6:00am.It was overcast most of the hike.We saw a record number of Millipedes today.There is a small burn area in Hidden Valley I have not seen before :tt: .Nice weather and hike.Thanks for waking up and going Gracemarie.We saw a car that ran off the road up by Buena Vista and 5 police cars and police talking to two people :o .
Hidden Valley from Buena Vista
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Oooooh what can I say about our hike last night? A certain someone did not approve of our 530pm start, next time we'll start an hour earlier for him :sweat:

We hopped up Holbert and crossed the road to National after comtemplating whether or not to just take a photo of the National sign and jump in the back of the next truck that drove by...

After much thought and dilly-dallying, during which time Vincent snapped an awesome photo of an awesome Hippy doing a cartwheel silhoutte in the sunset :whistle: oh, right, we trotted along National spotting many a black slinky milipede, I was promptly informed that they do not bite and steeled myself to play with one...they're freaking awesome and feel really cool!

We happened across a few toads which did not turn into Princes :-s
A tarantula the size of my little hand refused to crawl onto my sweaty hands and even denied my apple.
The boys found a rattle snake in a tree! Awesome, not even a rattle from him.
Oh and someone is bound to say it but yes I did break a nail and no it is not a big deal...geez....boys!

Great group! Great hike....oh except the 3 miles of parking lot walking...
Hidden Valley from Buena Vista
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Wasn't committed to this one ahead of time, but after a Saturday night AZWilderness Beer event, and a Sunday morning Tenderloin Benedict "breakfast" at D?ck's Hideaway, along with a planned zombie party Sunday night, I thought it might be in my best interest to get the metabolism some extra work.

Not sure why I thought that hiking up a mountain when it's 110-degrees was a good idea, but once the sun went down, it ended up being ok. Nice views and a good group of people made it all ok. Looped into Hidden Valley which was nice to see in the dark. Tons of millipedes on the trail, and dozens of the freaky-looking camel spiders. Saw a very placid black-tailed rattler, and got chased off the mountain by a light haboob. Not too bad, but the dust obscured the views and was a little irritating on eyes and breathing. It cleared up enough for a light-free hike back to the car under the nearly full moon.

The zombie party was fun, but after the hiking, I was exhausted, and just couldn't hang around that long before I just gave up. :(

Good to get out at night again. Hopefully I earned myself enough health points to justify my planned Labor Day BBQ!
Hidden Valley from Buena Vista
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Our group met by the Central Ave entrance and started discussing what to hike. Our plan was to do a loop hike. I thought it would be a great idea to add a quick detour over to Hidden Valley while we were out. Everyone agreed and we were off.

We started on the Holbert Trail and made good pace up to the saddle. From there we connected on the National Trail and started heading for Hidden Valley. We made it several miles before night set in. As we neared the turn off for Hidden Valley we pulled out our headlamps and continued the hike. I was a little surprised to find another group out on the trail. There was roughly a dozen people that ranged in age from young to old. One of the adults was carrying a baby strapped to their chest. We hit Hidden Valley and started our return. We were making very quick time.

Before long we arrived at Buena Vista where we regrouped and began planning the next segment. By this point it was getting a little late. We were going to break up the group. Some of us were going to finish the loop while others would head back down the Holbert Trail to the car. Right before we parted we noticed a minor dust storm moving in. After seeing that we all agreed to stick together and hike out. The return was dusty but not awful. The smell reminded me of cat litter. Luckily the dust passed fairly quickly and we were back at the cars soon after. We made the last mile or so by the brightness of the moon.

Along the hike we encountered a rattle snake and a tarantula and an assortment of millipedes and other crawlers. We made fast time and covered a good amount of ground. This was a fun hike with a great group of peeps from HAZ!
Hidden Valley from Buena Vista
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hiked corona loop but with a starting point on the north side of south mountain
up mormon, west on national, down corona de loma, east on desert classic, up corona east, back on national through hidden valley, down mormon
read in joe's trail description of corona east that going up is preferable so once i got to buena vista lookout, went counter-clockwise on the loop
overshot (again?) the turn up corona east, so my mileage is a little higher than it should be
editing the track to delete my inability to find the trail
however, i knew i was off by the map, and used the track loaded in my gps to figure it out
that was a learning experience
corona east is blocked off by rocks and branches at both ends
enjoyed the loop as footing was good going down, and the east trail features a good climb
nobody on either corona segment
would definitely do this again
will also post just the loop, as it could be accessed via geronimo or holbert trails
great views to the north and south, beautiful day, not too crowded, although there were quite a few people out for a christmas day hike

Permit $$

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To Buena Vista Trailhead
From anywhere in Phoenix head south on Central Avenue. This will take you right into South Mountain Park Preserve. Stop at the information center and pick up a free map. Restrooms here are your last chance here on out. There is a cold water fountain and soda machines. If you can't find a map just keep on following the road. Looking for a left turnoff up to Buena Vista Lookout or it may say radio towers. The sign is was very faded as of Feb 2000. The going is extremely slow on these 15 mph at roads. As a high school buddy would have yelled out, "get your foot off the brake, it's the one on the right!" Passing the various lookout points and radio tower turnoffs you will eventually reach the Buena Vista Lookout.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 16.4 mi - about 36 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 115 mi - about 1 hour 59 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 156 mi - about 2 hours 36 mins
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