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Ranger Trail - South Mountain
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mini location map2013-12-12
5 by photographer avatarblack_toes
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Ranger Trail - South MountainPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 12 2013
black_toes
Hiking3.02 Miles 820 AEG
Hiking3.02 Miles   1 Hour   52 Mns   2.08 mph
820 ft AEG      25 Mns Break
 no routes
1st trip
Partners none no partners
I actually enjoyed this short hike up to the ridgeline and the National Trail. Maybe it was because I'd read Joe Bartels's description and expected so little. "The bleakest spot on the face of the earth" it wasn't. Not now anyway in cool weather. I noticed Joe wrote his piece in July 2007 and assume he did his assessment in torrid heat.

Due to recent rains the landscape now is lit up in hues of green. And of course the sun has gone deep south and taken the heat with it, and I hiked much of the time in near-shivering shade. I reached the ridgeline only to be met by a cold north breeze and storm clouds on the northern horizon.

The trail appealed to my ambling style, where visual moments rank right up there with exercise. In others words I'm in no hurry. There comes a time in your life, at least it did in mine, when slowing to smell, examine and sometimes taste wilder places takes over. And I'm at that point, and I see no going back.

The Ranger to my eyes is a pretty trail, especially after crossing the highway and starting up more steeply. Only a few swtchbacks but lots of gentle-rising contours. And it is relatively smooth. Mostly gravel and small rocks with a few outcroppings and small stretches of dirt. I stopped several times to take-in the many good views, views of nearby Maricopa Peak and downtown Phoenix, brightly lit in sunshine. I even enjoyed coming across the "flats" from the trailhead at Five Tables picnic area to the highway. Numerous ironwood trees grow along the two ravines and the landscape is dotted by saguaro. A Teddy Bear patch has broken out not far from the parking lot, not yet mixing in with the usual desert crowd. And I found only a handful of hikers on the trail. Ten to be exact, not counting a man and woman on horseback coming down the Los Lomitas Trail.

As trails go in the park, the Ranger is about halfway up my list. The ranking would go down as the heat returns. It certainly beats the wearisome, gully-riven Bajada, and I rank it nicer than the Holbert because of the views and better trail surface. On a par maybe with the Mormon but below Geronimo. If you have a couple of spare hours, as I did in mid-afternoon, the Ranger offers a pleasant cool-weather hike and a great starting point, from the National, to the park's other western trails.
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