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Hidden Valley Trail - South Mountain
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mini location map2011-02-12
27 by photographer avatartibber
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Hidden Valley Trail - South MountainPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 12 2011
tibber
Hiking8.11 Miles 1,409 AEG
Hiking8.11 Miles   5 Hrs      1.62 mph
1,409 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Finally got to Plan B from a couple weekends ago. My brother and I started around 9:30 from the 46th St TH on the Beverly Canyon Trail. The hiking on these roller coaster hills was uneventful other than it was a good trail with new views and the UPs were short :) . The trail was a bit confusing at times as it looked like you could go a couple different directions. For example, just past the apt complex it looks like you could continue straight but we didn't. There were a couple of these forks in the road that we had to stop and think 8-[ . We did manage to take the Ridgeline Trail to the right rather than continue straight where we would have ended up at the Pima Wash Trail.

We finally got to the intersection that is by the first big set of boulders in the wash/canyon where you can go right (west) on the Mormon Loop or you can go left and around a long corner to the National East. And then it was time to go back up again after giving up a lot of the elevation from the wash. So up we went but at least the scenery was a little more interesting. At that first saddle we ran into some western Canadian tourists (it usually only takes a sentence or two at most for me to figure that out ;) ) who come down from time to time. We told them about Hidden Valley and suggested they might enjoy some nice hikes out of First Water in the Supes. We chatted for quite some time about the weather (Alberta, Montana, Phx) and hiking.

Once again we were on our way. My brother had hiked this area before so he was looking forward to our trip to Hidden Valley. And of course, once we made the turn onto the Hidden Valley trail, the fun began in earnest as I took in the topography around me. I almost yelped with glee at the Natural Tunnel. That was great fun so we goofed around there. Just past that to the right is a rock formation you can squeeze thru for a slight short-cut. Wayne couldn't figure out where to go after we got thru so we ended up going back to the trail. We realized as we crossed over the rock ridge that all we had to do was step up from where we had stopped and we would have made it south just as he thot :doh: ; so we did that on the way back.

As you head west again, look to your left (south) and you will see a saguaro with a rock formation surrounding its trunk part way up. We went over and investigated the situation and despite what my brother says, the rocks did not grow up AROUND the saguaro :lol: . However, it looked like this pretty big saguaro sure didn't take much soil to grow in that 3 foot or so rock pot. Next up was the window rock area. We chose to go thru the right side. For me getting up and out of it afterward seemed harder than it should be :oplz: .

Alas, we finally made it to Fatman's Pass. My brother looks at me and says "see, no way". And from this angle it seemed impossible for a body to squeeze through there. But looks can be deceiving :-s . He made his way up the slick boulder to get on top of the Pass. I decided I would follow but not nearly as graceful and easy as he did as I tried to get my arm and hand situated to give me enough leverage to move my legs up that slippery slope. Fortunately there was a gentleman (not my brother who I am sure was snickering under his breath while watching me awkwardly maneuver my way) who offered a hand for that last step.

And then the debate was on as to whether we could get thru the narrow opening... somewhat like deciding if you can fit your body with bumps into the slot of a toaster. A couple folks said they had done it and all I'm thinkin' is "double mammogram" :scared: . Well Wayne went back and forth with ease so obviously this was "doable" :D . I slid my pack off and went thru and was delighted at how easy it was despite how it looked. I do think re-naming it to "mammogram pass" would be a more accurate description.

And now, LUNCHtime. We decided to go eat on the rocks just above and south of the pass. What a great decision that was. We just didn't realize it was Squirrel Rock as before we knew it, there were 12 delightful little squirrels scurrying around us. I don't generally believe in feeding the animals in the wild but I think these very friendly squirrels get fed a lot and get leftovers. So against my usual good judgment, we fed them a couple nips of our bread crust. They eat right out of your hand and seemed to think my fingernail might be tasty as well. They were very gracious and provided us wonderful entertainment as we enjoyed the spectacular views around us. :y: Alvin and the squirrels can be seen on Parts 2 & 3 of my trio of videos from this hike. This was better than the zoo.

We hiked back thru Hidden Valley and at the window rock area, I went on the south side passage for a nice variety so that was fun. We also took the rock ledge back and thru the rocks (where we had been before) by the Natural Tunnel. We then got to the intersection of Hidden Valley/National and headed north toward the Mormon Loop. It looks like there was a trail you could go down the hill or the one that turned east and stayed toward the top :-k . We opted to stay on the high side and were glad we did. The air was clear so we got some incredible 180 degree views.

We finished off on the Javelina Trail. The temp was at 77 by this time so we were glad our hike was coming to a close. We walked by what we think was some sort of enormous water tank that seemed to be part way in the ground. The markings on the top were interesting.

Observations: not as many folks on the trail as one may have expected, lots more bike riders than I thot, a good exercise hike for sure, only about 1/2 the hike was naturally scenic but that 1/2 was LOTS of fun.

Video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y7DJRZ96anA Beverly Canyon-Ridgeline toward Hidden Valley
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8X-h1MQCshk Here we are headed to and go thru the Natural Tunnel on the Hidden Valley Trail. It looks like I got something on the lens somewhere along the line so I apologize. Fortunately I caught a couple minutes later. The last part of the video is at Hidden Valley and includes our stop at Squirrel Rock.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1ZFKi32-Cs Squirrel Rock back thru Hidden Valley to Upper Mormon Loop to Javelina Trail to TH at 46th St.

Moving time: 3:18, stopped: 1:41
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For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination.
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.
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