register help

Ray Road Access Trail - South Mountain, AZ

no permit
233 130 0
Guide 130 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > South Mtn
2 of 5 by 2
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Distance Round Trip 3.09 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,257 feet
Elevation Gain 319 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 1.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 4.69
Backpack No
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
15  2014-04-19
SoMo Mountain Biking Potpourri
15  2014-02-17 RowdyandMe
30  2014-01-25
SoMo Park Circle Route - 1934 Master Plan
13  2014-01-02
Desert Classic Trail
15  2013-12-24
SoMo Mountain Biking Potpourri
15  2013-12-22
SoMo Park Circle Route - 1934 Master Plan
40  2013-10-13
SoMo Park Circle Route - 1934 Master Plan
1  2013-10-12
SoMo Park Circle Route - 1934 Master Plan
Page 1,  2,  3
Author Randal_Schulhauser
author avatar Guides 71
Routes 98
Photos 9,967
Trips 1,009 map ( 9,248 miles )
Age 59 Male Gender
Location Ahwatukee, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   Nov, Jan, Feb, Mar
Seasons   Winter to Early Spring
Sun  6:16am - 6:25pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Rock Wrens in the Mist
by Randal_Schulhauser

This is a popular South Mountain access trail for local residents either hiking or mountain biking. There are multiple side trails and loop backs creating seemingly endless choice possibilities. Start your hike from an oasis in the desert beside a man-made lake. There always seems to be some sort of wild life near here. Take note of the park benches around the lake... they may come in handy for a rest on the way out!

The trail heads north away from Ray Road as a concrete pathway that soon gives way to natural Sonoran desert. The trail is usually rutted from mountain bike tires, making trail finding easy. You crisscross the main wash many times as you make your way to the Phoenix Mountain Preserve boundary line. A few feet beyond the boundary line the trail splits at GPS coordinates 33o 19.234'N, 112o 01.917'W. Take the right fork that heads initially towards the east and some newly constructed mansions within the S. Canyon Drive gated community.

The right fork will take a semi-circular route around a hill to your left and a small box canyon to your right. The saguaros have many birds living within the cacti burrows. Unfortunately all were camera shy, but would reappear once the camera was packed away!

The trail splits again near a wash at GPS coordinates 33o 19.297'N, 112o 02.156'W. The left fork heads south and will take you back to the Rock Wren Access Trail Head. Take the right fork north and climb up to the saddle. The saddle has an elevation of 1542 feet and given the steady climb from the starting trail head, it is a frequent rest stop. There is a ridgeline trail that heads west from the saddle. This trail eventually loops north to join with Desert Classic Trail.

The Ray Road Access Trail continues north over the saddle as you make your way towards the Desert Classic Trail. The trail down from the saddle drops into another wash. It is possible to follow this wash to the east as it will become an interesting box canyon that will eventually meet up with the Ray Road Access Trail. This wash is surrounded by twisted vegetation overgrowth.

A switch back trail rises out of the wash and on towards the junction with Desert Classic Trail at post #54. At this juncture, you have traveled 1.69 miles from the Ray Road trail head. You have the option of exploring Desert Classic Trail or retracing your steps back to the saddle and down to the wash junction with Rock Wren Trail at GPS coordinates 33o 19.297'N, 112o 02.156'W.

Rock Wren Trail starts to head south but will soon bend to the west near the Phoenix Mountain Preserve boundary line sign. Teddy Bear Cholla, Fish Hook Barrel Cacti and Hedge Hog Cacti are common in this area. As the trail heads west it will soon come to a forked junction. Choose the south trail that descends into spring with a permanent water supply.

The spring is near GPS coordinates 33o 19.124'N, 112o 02.122'W and has the lowest elevation (1401 feet) for the local vicinity. This reliable spring attracts wild life... many quail scurrying through the bushes, along with cactus wrens, and evidence of coyotes. Puddle jumping is required on this section of the trail. The water flow will soon disappear underground and the trail will follow the wash.

Near GPS coordinates 33o 19.127'N, 112o 02.078'W the trail will fork again. The east fork (left) continues near the wash that will meet up with the Ray Road Access Trail. The south fork (right) ascends a foot hill with an elevation of 1575 feet. The exposed slope has some interesting cholla skeletons and saguaro skeletons. Once you made the top of the summit, views of Ahwatukee and South Mountain are offered. There are some convenient rocks making suitable sitting benches. The trail follows the ridgeline towards the E. Rock Wren Road trail head.

This is one of my favorite local trails, not just because I can walk to it from my doorstep, but due to its seemingly endless variety. Now I'll be able to log those trips! Enjoy!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

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

2006-01-23 Randal_Schulhauser
    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 48 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Ray Road Access Trail - South Mountain
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    West-half loop of DC via Ray Road Access Trail after watching TDF :next:

    Temp to start was 90degF, finish temp was 93degF.
    Ray Road Access Trail - South Mountain
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    Ahwatukee Meander
    On the trails my iPhone indicated 81degF. Off the trails it indicated 91degF. Starting to feel humidity, see some clouds rolling in from the south - could it be monsoon starting to set up?

    Got on the trail at a descent time after taking in one of my guilty little pleasures :next: :)

    Bring on the next guilty little pleasures :next: :) :)

    Still have to sort through photos from my Utah/Arizona Strip trek :next: ... 40_______1 :) :) :)
    Ray Road Access Trail - South Mountain
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    SoMo Mountain Biking Potpourri
    I've thought about trying to ride Corona de Loma for some time now and decided to give it a shot today - 20% ride, 80% carry-up. Once topped out at Summit Road, took the TV Road spur up to Gila Valley Overlook where a couple of base jumpers were preparing for takeoff. Lingered awhile before heading down TV Road and Summit Road at max speed. Headed down Telegraph Pass and continued over to Loco Patron to catch the puck drop between the Hawks & Blues plus a "cold, cheap, beer".

    $2 bottles of Labatts Blue - bargain considering a 12 pack sell for $17.50 in Canada :next:

    Desert marigolds primarily
    Ray Road Access Trail - South Mountain
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    SoMo Circle Route – Jan2014

    38.17 miles, 4:40:29 time, 1870 AEG (per FitBit)

    Do two half SoMo’s make it whole?

    Started on Desert Classic and headed towards Pima Trail Head. Cut through Beverly Canyon and onto Javelina Canyon Trail. Found a side trail that dumped me out by a reservoir by a fire station. This allowed me to join onto Highline Canal Urban Trail without skirting along a section of Baseline Road.

    Once inside South Mountain Park, to the Box Canyon Loop up to Las Lomitas Picnic Ramada (closed to automobile access) and onto Las Lomitas Trail to Ranger Trail where we discovered a new trail – Derby Loop Trail.

    At the intersection of Central Avenue and San Juan Lookout Road I was stopped by a Ranger. He indicated that access was closed due to a special event – “National Trail Trek Day” :next: ... index.html

    ” The 18th National Trail Trek is January 25, 2014!
    Barcode #99170, Viewable on-line 11-2-13. Registration opens 11-16-13 @ 10:30 a.m.
    Rain or Shine! This 15.5 mile hike will take you from the easternmost edge of the mountain (Pima Canyon) traversing the South Mountains all the way to San Juan Lookout near the western edge. We provide the food, water, round-trip transportation, various prizes and surprises -- you provide the miles and miles of smiles! Cost is $50.

    Please note: Pre-registration is required for the National Trail Trek; absolutely no walk-in registrations will be taken the day of the event. Also, no mail-in registrations will be accepted.

    If you have photo images from the 2013 NTT please e-mail then to and include photo credit info.
    South Mountain Trail Trek Map
    National Trail Trek Information:
    • Average hiking time – 5 to 6 hours for 15.5 miles
    • Half-way shuttles: you can obtain a ride in the van at the half-way point (7.5
    miles) if you cannot continue. The van will drop you off where you parked at the Activity Complex.
    • Transportation: Bus from Activity Complex parking/check-in off Central Ave. to Pima Canyon – approximately 10 miles and takes about 25 to 30 minutes. Vans used for transporting you from the end – approximately 5.5 mile drive.
    *You can have someone drop you off at the Pima Canyon parking lot. Be aware – you must have your NTT wristband to obtain the lunch and get a ride back in the vans to the Activity Complex. Your driver cannot drive to San Juan to pick you up.
    For questions about the National Trail Trek, call Event Coordinator Christine Romo @ (602) 262-7393 or e-mail
    Click here to see 2012 hike images!

    Oh well, had a good conversation with the Ranger. Introduced him to a free GPS app for his iPhone – Trimble Outdoors before pushing off to more or less retrace my route home.

    Spotted my first Mexican Poppy bloom of the year… :)

    South Mountain Ranger Maps
    Detailed :next: ... 062880.pdf
    East Section :next: ... nteast.pdf
    West Section :next: ... ntwest.pdf

    Spotted my first Mexican Poppy bloom of the year.
    Brittlebush blooms in lower washes plus some Desert Marigold blooms and Fiddlenecks and Bladderpods.
    Ray Road Access Trail - South Mountain
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    New Year’s 2nd Day – Desert Classic complete loop

    With a peak bagging New Year’s Day hike (check out :next: ) just completed, what to do for a follow-up on the 2nd day of the New Year?

    While sorting through some Stewart Mountain photos Wednesday night prior to posting, a potential clue was displayed on the flat screen in the form of a promo documentary proclaiming Flagstaff as the true birthplace of mountain biking :next: and“changing-gears-flagstaff-and-the-mountain-bike”/ Of course a sound bite from Cosmic Ray (check out :next: ... 0966476980 and ... 2de79.html ) was included. This reminded me of my chance meeting with Cosmic Ray about 15 years ago and a little discussion we had about a little appreciated mountain bike trail called “Desert Classic” (check out :next: ).

    Call it serendipity, but a complete loop of Desert Classic was definitely being suggested to me, so we made it happen (door step to Pima TH to Telegraph Pass TH via Desert Classic and back home again)…

    Time = 2:26:29
    Distance = 20.89 miles
    AEG = 1232 ft

    Brittlebush blooms in some washes
    Ray Road Access Trail - South Mountain
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    SoMo Mountain Biking Potpourri
    Loop from my doorstep to Ray Road Access Trail to Desert Classic to Telegraph Pass and home again via side streets. Last ride of the year getting ready for Yotes game this evening and New Years Day HAZ Hike tomorrow :next: viewtopic.php?t=7996 :o
    Ray Road Access Trail - South Mountain
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    SoMo Mountain Biking Potpourri
    SoMo Mountain Biking Potpourri

    Guess every Christmas has to throw some unplanned drama at you just to check if you are managing the holiday stress correctly. Mine came in the form of a house full of guests sans hot water heater (no, not the guests, but a hot water heater that decided now’s the time to die a painful death).

    With new hot water heater installation scheduled for Thursday morning and the guests taking care of business on their own, decided to invoke a couple of my own stress relievers :next:

    Hit the Ray Road Access Trail and continued up the Helipad Route (check out :next: ). Took a breather and enjoyed the views before descending the Goat Trail connector (check out :next: ) to Desert Classic. From here, I headed west to the Telegraph Pass TH and beyond to the Gila Trail until I reached the SoMo Park western boundary at the Gila River Indian Reservation. Followed the boundary trail south until I joined the BIA road that parallels Pecos Road. Headed up Desert Foothills Parkway and grabbed a beer at Locotukee ( ) remembering that a did state “couple of stress relievers”…
    Ray Road Access Trail - South Mountain
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    South Side Half-SoMo

    Started at Ray Road Access Trail and looped Desert Classic over to the Telegraph Pass TH by Desert Foothills Parkway. From there, I joined onto the Gila Trail (pirate section) to join the Pyramid Trail and thee connector over to Lost Ranch Ruins.

    My hats off to whoever removes all the graffiti that keeps showing up on the Lost Ranch Ruins!

    I continued on the Gila Trail over the saddle and beyond until you reach the Gila River Indian Reservation boundary. Headed south along the hydro 4WD access track until you reach the Pecos Road extension on the Gila River I.R. Interesting giant cotton rolls on the Rez – sort of like giant hay rolls :next:

    Desert is certainly green these days - setting up for a stellar spring wild flower show? Saw some of my first wild flower blooms today - brittlebush in the washes.

    Back home just in time to catch the Cards kick-off…
    Ray Road Access Trail - South Mountain
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    Loop around the spring on Ray Road Access Trail and then a loop around Frank Lloyd Wright's Camp Ocotillo site. Time to get ready for some pre-game tailgating at today's Yotes game :next: :D
    Ray Road Access Trail - South Mountain
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    A second try at completing a SoMo Circle Route after yesterday's "beer bottle incident" ( Wanted to get the ride in before today's Yotes' game (10am start) and Cards' game ( 1:30pm start). Can say I made it home before the Cards kickoff...

    Took some new wrinkles out the west end near the Gila River I.R. Boundary exploring some more ruins and mines. :)

    Perfect weather for a ride! :) :) Some photos to follow when I get the chance...

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Phoenix to Ray Road Access Trail Head: Take the I-10 to exit 159 for Ray Road. Travel west on Ray Road about 3 miles until you pass over a wash between the gated communities on S. Canyon Drive and E. Desert Willow Drive. There will be a small man-made lake and fountain on the south side of Ray Road beside the wash. I frequently see hikers and mountain bikers park their vehicles along S. 27th Way which is the first street west of the wash on the south side of Ray Road. The Trail Head is well maintained and landscaped as is typical within Ahwatukee Foothills Village. GPS coordinates for Ray Road Access Trail Head are 33o 18.730'N, 112o 01.304'W.

    From Desert Classic Trail: At Desert Classic Trail post #54 take the south fork to join the Ray Road Access Trail. GPS coordinates for trail post #54 are 33o 19.585'N, 112o 02.313'W.

    As an alternative, there is also an access trail head at the north end of E. Rock Wren Road. This trail converges with the Ray Road Access Trail near a wash at GPS coordinates 33o 19.297'N, 112o 02.156'W prior to the climb up to a saddle. GPS coordinates for Rock Wren Access Trail Head are 33o 18.848'N, 112o 01.758'W.
    help comment issue

    end of page marker