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Hidden Valley from Buena Vista, AZ

Guide 141 Triplogs  0 Topics
  3.3 of 5 
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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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5  2021-07-03
Mormon Trail - South Mountain
4  2021-06-27
Hidden Valley via Geronimo
6  2021-06-27
Hidden Valley via Geronimo
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
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5,  6
Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 242
Routes 836
Photos 12,086
Trips 4,888 map ( 24,947 miles )
Age 51 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  5:40am - 7:29pm
Official Route
9 Alternative

Desert Playground
by joebartels

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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, White Tank, 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. The trail skirts the mountain immediately, 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. Instead, I've gone over and looked 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 are in a hidden valley. It's pretty cool knowing you are in a valley above the Valley! Pass through this small valley. When you begin to wonder, "did I lose 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 through the tunnel.

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.

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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.

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
90+° 8am - 6pm kills
prehydrate & stay hydrated
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