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Granite and Cholla Mountains Loop, AZ
mini location map2013-11-18
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Granite and Cholla Mountains Loop, AZ 
Granite and Cholla Mountains Loop, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 18 2013
Hiking9.21 Miles 776 AEG
Hiking9.21 Miles   4 Hrs   22 Mns   2.38 mph
776 ft AEG      30 Mns Break
1st trip
still have some days off coming so this was one of them. Not sure why there are two trailheads so close together with Fraesfield at around 134th St and Granite Mtn 136th St off of Dynamite/E Rio Verde. There are no facilities at either TH and I think you could use either TH to do this loop and other hikes in the area. I understand the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy picked up some more acreage today. The trailhead lot is huge and believe it or not, there were actually maps in the MAP box. This was a good thing as the map I had printed out on Friday didn't have this side of the hike (I changed my route over the weekend). I can imagine this multi-use trail would be a zoo on weekends :M2C: .
Here is the link to the map of the area:

Scout played hooky today and refused to find the satellites. I goofed around with it off and on to no avail. I don't know what was up with that as I encountered another hiker that had an eTrex and his worked fine. Fortunately I could use the MapMyFitness application so at least HAZ could have a route. I put it in the back of my pack. It was startling at first when I would turn around expecting to see a human and it was just Kemosabe talking to me :doh: telling me what mile I was at and what pace.

First and foremost, what a :pk: awesome trail.... no shoes needed for the whole entire way!!! Talk about comfort, talk about walking and gawking :y: . OMG! I don't think there is one rock or one root or anything sticking up on that trail so kudo to the trail workers : app : .

I didn't start until 10:15 and after about the first 15 minutes I was wondering if I should have started earlier as it seemed just a tad warm. However, for the rest of the hike, the temps were just fine and a small breeze kept the sweat off my brow.

Walking on this trail,
    -I noticed lots of yucca
    -saw and walked near very tall saguaros and big boulders
    -encountered 9 female bikers in this area and shortly there after some almost elderly hikers out for a stroll
    -I looked to the south and east to get some decent views of the Supes and Mazzies. The further north I got and once up on the Granite Mtn Loop, the Mazzies are ever so prevalent. I took many pics of the Mazzies but a lot of Saddle Mtn.
    -love the name of one of the connector trails "Branding Iron" being as I had been around a lot of brandings back in the day.
    -as I got further to the NW I could start seeing the Tonto Hills and mountains south of Seven Springs as well as Humboldt Mtn with the communications tower.
    -saw some taller saguaros and asked the question "if a saguaro falls in the desert, does it make a sound?" and concluded it probably made a big thump. And of course the Geiko commercial has cleared that question up with regard to trees :lol: .
    -saw a hillside with a lot of chollas which was so pretty and then I spotted a crested saguaro. I had to be looking exactly right or it is easily missed as it's a pretty good distance from the trail... but it is a beauty. I have it on film and photos.
    -next up: Cathedral Rock where I had last been in 2008 before the Conservancy purchased the property; it was up for a vote when I was here last. I took my lunch break with clear views of Black Mountain above Cave Creek, Elephant Mountain in Spur Cross and New River Mesa. It was lovely :DANCE: as I sat in the shade of the almost house-size boulders. (There are grinding holes in the rock base here too).

    -shortly after leaving the Cathedral I encountered a few hikers; the gentleman said he had a two part question for me: "Is this area safe from crime and are there any mountain lions?" I assured him "Yes and No, not that I knew of" accordingly. And within 5 minutes of that I encountered a Trail Steward patrolling on a bike so I assume that would simply reinforce the safety of the area for the elderly gentelman and his two lady friends..
    -next up was the Amphitheatre. I guess I expected more but it was a pretty neat area.
    -onto Balanced Rock Trail where I spotted about 1/2 mile or more away, the Rock in question. Going up to the area is about the only elevation you will get on this hike. Once again, I wasn't too impressed and perhaps there would be a more appropriate name though I guess the boulder could roll backwards during an earth quake or something but I don't think it would be a spectacular event.
    -and then as I got to the south side of Granite Mountain, there were all sorts of cool boulders and rocks and such. I was wishing Kelly was here cuz we'd have to 'splore. It's too bad they don't have a cut through up and over before this southern point just so you can get some elevation. It would be neat to cut through that area.
    -hiked to an intersection with Bootlegger and the trail to Powerline Rd. Wanted to go back to the trailhead via Bootlegger as Kelly said the road is a "rather not" but the sign said .9 to Bootlegger which meant at least another .7 to the TH for 1.6. I was on a time deadline so since I didn't know for sure, I just headed for Powerline Road (and now I know why they call it that ](*,) ).

A couple other observations is that the flora could use some of the rains that the Supes get as the comparison between my hike on the Lost Goldmine Trail on Saturday and here was almost night and day as far as the healthiness of like plants and trees (Ironwood in particular). There were also bunches of Crucifixion Thorn trees. I think, however, that this area will be lovely in the Spring. And remember, shoes are optional ;) . Second, the trail is well marked. I love hiking in sections because it seems to shorten the hike.

First time on the trail and hiking by myself which means lots of videos and narration:
Bootlegger to Granite Mountain Loop -
Granite Mountain Loop -
Branding Iron to Cholla Mtn Loop to Cathedral Rock -
to and at Amphitheatre -
Balanced Rock Trail -
Granite Mtn Loop to Powerline to TH -
Saguaro - Crested
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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