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Calderwood Butte Trail
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mini location map2016-02-14
11 by photographer avatarblack_toes
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Calderwood Butte TrailPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 14 2016
Hiking2.94 Miles 768 AEG
Hiking2.94 Miles   2 Hrs   37 Mns   1.73 mph
768 ft AEG      55 Mns Break
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
My second visit to the Butte's small bump of a summit. The first time, on Feb 12 of last year, I came up from the E, from the busy TH off 99th Ave. To avoid the traffic and cover new ground, I decided to try a route from the Jomax Road TH on the south. I made it much harder than it should've been.

First, I missed the TH. I parked at the side of a paved road and headed out N on what I thought was the Agua Fria River Trail. As I rounded the N end of a new housing development and turned E through a cozy playground, I hit a deadend. Not wanting to backtrack, I went off-trail on a slow stumbling ascent through palo verde, saguaro and you-name it. If I had to pick perfect rattlesnake country, this was it.

Very slow going. Steep terrain. Lots of rock, much of it loose. Not as bad as Ludden Mtn, but close. At this point I was swinging along the Butte's SW slope. The summit looked a hell of a long way off. I could see no direct line to the upper trail. Discouraged I kept going E, figuring I'd intersect the southern Calderwood Butte Trail eventually. And I did. It was a nice trail, switchbacking up and not too steep. From where I came out of the rough country, it was only 2/10 of mile on up to the juncture with the main trail coming up from 99th Ave.

It was an easy ascent from there to the summit, only .32 of a mile. I blew so much time, though, in the rough country, I had precious few moments to enjoy the views if I wanted to get back to the car before darkness. Even then I got mesmerized by a fleet of hot-air balloons rising from the N. I counted 12, more by far than I'd ever seen at one time in the Phoenix area. From the summit, I looked south along the "Jomax" trail and tried to map it out mentally. It disappeared behind some small peaks above an area of high bluffs standing guard along the Agua Fria. That trail was going to be my way back, come hell or high water. If it was a deadend over there, so be it. I wasn't traipsing back through that crud I'd ascended over, not with sunlight quickly vanishing.

The "Jomax" trail proved a winner. A bit rocky in places but clearly visible and winding a wide, artful path. I held my breath as I rounded the last little peak, then relaxed as I saw the trail led down to Jomax Road, a distance of about 1 1/4 mi from the Butte. I reached the car at 1820, about 10 minutes after a beautiful sunset.

I learned a couple of things on this hike. One, I will always go up Calderwood Butte from the south from now on. Nice trail, sweeping views to the west. Two, I have conquered my fear of sliding on loose rock with a sprained left ankle, now two months old. It's feeling good again and so am I.
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