Toughest flat trail in the west
This legendary mountain biking trail has plenty of room to share with hikers, dogs and horses. With South Mountain forming a barrier to the north, and a continuous chain of foothills to the south, this trail is almost completely hidden from any evidence of the big city. Typical Sonoran desert vegetation abounds. South Mountain is billed as the world's largest municipal park - but it's also a preserve. There are petroglyphs scattered along the trail, particularly near the junction of Telegraph Pass and Desert Classic Trails.
Don't let the distance discourage you. There are numerous side trails with loop-backs allowing one to customize their hike to suit their own personal wants and needs. I'll describe a recent "east to west" complete trail hike;
Mile 0.0 - From the Marcos de Niza ramadas, look for the trail heading south (Pima Trail is the trail heading west that ascends South Mountain and joins the National Trail). There are numerous numbered posts marked "Desert Classic".
Mile 0.6 - Take west fork (right).
Mile 0.9 - At trail post #11, continue west (left). North fork (right) joins the Ridge Line Trail looping back to the ramadas.
Mile 1.5 - At trail post #17, continue west (right) around hill. South fork (left) joins San Gabriel Ave trail head.
Mile 1.7 - At trail post #18, continue west (right). South fork (left) also joins San Gabriel Ave trail head.
Mile 3.3 - At trail post #27, head west (right). East fork (left) joins loop back trails towards San Gabriel Ave.
Mile 3.7 - At trail post #31, go past water tank and head west. Trails to the east and south join Equestrian Trail.
Mile 5.1 - At trail post #46, head south (left). Side trail to west is the Corona De Loma Trail that ascends South Mountain and joins the National Trail. Many side trails lead to petroglyphs.
Mile 5.3 - At trail post #47, stay south (right). Side trail to the east joins War Paint Dr. trail head.
Mile 5.7 - Climb about 200 feet to trail post #50. Head west (left). North fork joins Corona De Loma Trail and some loop back trails. My wife reports that she has had frequent rattlesnake encounters in this area, particularly when hiking with the dogs!
Mile 6.7 - At trail post #54, stay west (right). Side trail to the south (left) heads to the Goat Trail loop and Hidden Canyon side trail. Want some challenging elevation gain - take the Goat Trail loop! Hidden Canyon side trail exits at Ray Rd.
Mile 7.5 - At trail post #59, continue west (right). Side trail to the south (left) is the Goat Trail loop that follows the ridgeline about 500 feet above the Desert Classic Trail.
Mile 8.0 - At trail post #60, continue west (right). Side trail to the south (left) goes to Desert Broom Dr.
Mile 8.2 - At trail post #61, continue west (right). Side trail to the south (left) follows wash and joins Desert Foothills Parkway.
Mile 8.8 - Telegraph Pass Trail junction. Trail to north ascends South Mountain and joins National Trail. There are numerous petroglyphs in the vicinity. One set is particularly well noted with South Mountain Preserve signage providing a historical account. Trail to the south heads to the Desert Foothills Parkway trail head and parking lot.
Mile 9.3 - West trail head and parking lot. Hint - Parking is limited. If full, park at Altadena Middle School on Desert Foothills Parkway. The school is near the wash that follows a side trail and joins Desert Classic Trail at post #61.
I consider myself fortunate to live beside a spur trail that joins the Desert Classic Trail. This trail offers infinite possibilities and I try to take advantage as often as possible whether it be hiking, walking the dog or mountain biking. Enjoy!
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.