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Grand Canal -- Beginning to Van Buren St, AZ
mini location map2013-10-12
13 by photographer avatarblack_toes
photographer avatar
 
Grand Canal -- Beginning to Van Buren St, AZ 
Grand Canal -- Beginning to Van Buren St, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Oct 12 2013
black_toes
Hiking3.76 Miles
Hiking3.76 Miles   1 Hour   44 Mns   2.75 mph
      22 Mns Break
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Did the lower part of the canal with MJ, from its most visible starting point near the Mill Avenue bridge, in Tempe, to the intersection of Van Buren and 40th Street, in Phoenix.

The trick was to find "first canal water" amid a cluster-muck of buildings, roadways and railroad and light rail tracks. After stumbling around for 10 minutes, we found the canal's beginnings just west of the Center Parkway/Washington light rail station, across the street from the Marquee Theater. The nearby condo unit, Lofts at Rio Salado, catches a heavy dose of noise, not to mention it rests beneath the landing pattern of airplanes headed for Sky Harbor.

It was interesting as urban hikes go. And lonesome. Didn't see another soul until a young guy passed us near 44th St, coming out of the Sky Train station on the south. It was there, across the canal, police, in five squad cars with lights ablaze in the semi-darkness, were evicting a homeless man who had set up a large campsite on the north shore. Felt bad for him. I saw no way he could remove all his belongings in one night. And to where?

We increased the trip by a half mile, staying on the north shore until we ran into a barrier gate at the back of the Pueblo Grande Museum and ruins, just beyond a footbridge across the Old Cross-Cut Canal. So we had to retreat and cross over to the Grand's south shore. By the way, it was the Pueblo's inhabitants of 1,500 years ago, the Hohokams, who built the first canals along the Salt River. To avoid the inconvenience of a backtrack here, stay left when crossing the railroad tracks.

The trail runs along both sides of the canal, wide enough for two cars and smooth as a sanded board. The canal follows the old Southern Pacific train tracks for the first 2.25 miles, then pulls away to the northwest. Pretty bleak scenery. The backsides of old warehouses and the light rail yard, the undersides of bridges carrying vehicle traffic on the 202 and other roads and highways and scattered equipment behind rusting metal fences. Even raw desert in places.

It was a thrill to watch and hear those big airliners pass over our heads at what seemed only a few hundred feet. And there was wildlife, believe it or not. A large Great Blue Heron kept us company, landing at times as close as 50 yards off. Other birds darted about, including a sandpiper look-alike, quick-stepping to cover in front of us, and mourning doves. A large school of fish, mostly carp, splashed about at the beginnng of the canal, some 2-3 feet in length.

We did a car shuttle, finally picking up MJ's car in the parking lot of the Hilton Garden Inn. Sure they'd be glad to know that.

It sounds like a boring jaunt. But it wasn't for me. Enjoyed it very much, marching along a segment of the big city almost no one knows is there.
Fauna
Fauna
Great Blue Heron
Named place
Named place
Grand Canal Phoenix - Metro Area
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242 Photosets

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