Here is a beautiful trail with a couple major drawbacks. This is a loop hike that can be hiked in either direction. I chose heading out on the South Loop which looking back would be my choice again.
From the start lush desert flora draws you into the hike. Heading south a little the trail hooks back west to ascend the hill/mountain. Highway 87 below has a roaring flow of traffic. It just seemed odd as you can hike in the middle of Phoenix with very little noise. Another drawback is the dense concentration of cattle. Evidence lies everywhere! Now that doesn't bother me, but the flies were unbelievable! I was thinking of turning around yet the trail was so lush I had to check this out. Near the end of the ascent the vegetation thins out some. Beautiful valleys open up. Saguaros pack the slopes. Standing here I wish there had been recent rainfall. The creeks below would be an awesome site during monsoon season! Although I would never recommend hiking out in the open during a thunderstorm we can always imagine. From here it is all down hill.
The trail descends to the junction with the Ballantine Trail and our return on Pine Creek North Loop. The sign as seen in the picture to the right reads: Ballantine Trail 283 - Boulder Flat 3 miles ahead, Boulder Tank 7 miles ahead and Cline Trailhead 11 miles to go. You could continue ahead passing 'The Boulders' and on up to Pine Mountain. That would be another 5 to 6 miles with an additional 3000 foot elevation gain! I chose to continue on the Pine Creek North Loop. This is a nice trail too. Personally I prefer the South Loop section. Overall I was impressed with the hike and definitely will return. Of course I'll bring a case of bug spray!
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
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.
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