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Desert Classic Trail, AZ

Guide 475 Triplogs  4 Topics
  2.1 of 5 
no permit
625 475 4
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 8.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,391 feet
Elevation Gain 198 feet
Accumulated Gain 749 feet
Avg Time One Way 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 11
Backpack No
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
2  2021-07-26
Young Man's Loop
4  2021-07-18
Corona Loop via Mormon Trail
4  2021-07-18
Corona Loop
5  2021-07-10
Corona Loop
1  2021-07-04 Tortoise_Hiker
1  2021-06-06
Geronimo - Corona Loop
4  2021-05-12
Young Man Trail - South Mountain
5  2021-04-01
Pima Canyon Loop - South Mountain
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Author Randal_Schulhauser
author avatar Guides 71
Routes 98
Photos 9,967
Trips 1,009 map ( 9,248 miles )
Age 61 Male Gender
Location Ahwatukee, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb → 7 AM
Seasons   Early Winter to Late Winter
Sun  5:38am - 7:31pm
Official Route
26 Alternative

Toughest flat trail in the west
by Randal_Schulhauser

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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 Ridgeline 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 trailhead.

Mile 1.7 - At trail post #18, continue west (right). South fork (left) also joins San Gabriel Ave trailhead.

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. trailhead.

Mile 5.7 - Climb about 200 feet to trail post #50. Head west (left). North fork joins Corona De Loma Trail and some loopback 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 trailhead and parking lot.

Mile 9.3 - West trailhead 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!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2004-10-30 Randal_Schulhauser
  • 2020 South Mountain Park
    area related
    2020 South Mountain Park

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 Pima Canyon Trailhead
To Pima Canyon Trailhead
This one is a little tough to locate if you're not from the area. It's near Guadalupe Rd. The issue at hand is there are no on-off ramps for Guadalupe Rd. Instead, get off south a mile on Elliot and follow 48th Street north.

Pima Canyon Trailhead is located west off of 48th Street, just south of Guadalupe Road. It's all somewhat confusing. Your first time, go to the intersection of Guadalupe & 48th, then head south. Take the first right and an immediate left into South Mountain/Phx Preserves Park. Follow the access road passing the golf course all the way to the trailhead.

Pima Canyon Trailhead and Marcos de Niza Trailhead are the same now. Long ago, the road continued to Pima Canyon Trailhead.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 10.9 mi - about 18 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 101 mi - about 1 hour 32 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 155 mi - about 2 hours 25 mins
90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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