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Hieroglyphics Trail #101
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mini location map2019-11-10
14 by photographer avatarYsabet
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Hieroglyphics Trail #101Phoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 10 2019
Hiking4.70 Miles 650 AEG
Hiking4.70 Miles   4 Hrs      1.18 mph
650 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Hieroglyphics Trail #101 is a nice little hike, though not one to take anybody who isn't interested in doing a bit of boulder-hopping along. I and a friend set out on 11/10/19 at around 9:00 am to try it out and to reach the Native American petroglyphs, which I had been wanting to see for some time. I also wanted to get an accurate measure of the round-trip trail, as I've heard everything from three to five miles.

My friend had her FitBit on and we began from the parking lot. The trail starts out as an easy, slightly uphill path, dusty in November but without any real difficulty at all; you do climb a bit but there are plenty of level spots and even a few dips before you reach the junction of Hieroglyphics and Lost Goldmine trails and the gate that lets you go on towards your goal.

One interesting feature: Not far from this gate is a broad, flat area that looked suspiciously free of boulders to me. On my first trip out there I spent quite a bit of time looking around, and it seemed to me that the boulders that *are* there are frequently in roughly circular shapes, a dead giveaway for anyone looking for a village or temporary campsite for the native populations following this route. There aren't many places large enough to allow many structures, even small ones; I saw only one scrap of pottery and a couple of chips of debitage (flint chips left over from stone tool production), so I suspect that this wasn't any sort of permanent site-- maybe a hunting camp or just an overnight haven for traveling groups? With the water nearby and the green surrounding areas the hunting must've been good.

So we went on, the climb flattened out and then rose again a bit steeper, and the trail got rockier and narrower. By the time we made it to the large volcanic boulder marked with grinding-holes the precedes the petroglyph site, the trail was very narrow but considerably shadier-- there are trees back there, not just bushes, and even in November the shade was welcome. Eventually we came to a bit of a cliff and did a small amount of clambering around, and there were the petroglyphs to our left.

The panels are very nice; the majority do seem to match the local Hohokam style, but there were elements that I recognized from examples seen further north. Lizards, coyotes and bighorn sheep predominate, plus one creature in particular that looked like a dream animal (the horns make a figure 8) and another with the tail and feet that indicate a mountain lion in most glyph designs. There are a few clear atlatls laid out, one really nice large spiral, and all sorts of general geometrics including one large clear design that may have been Archaic with some later repecking. I heard that there are more glyphs further back in the canyon, but I'll have to check those out on a future trip.

The views are wonderful; so long as everyone is pretty physically fit, this'd be a perfectly fine trail for visitors. Hiking sticks are advised, though, and LOTS of water-- the trail is rough enough to give you a moderate workout and only an idiot would hike anywhere without plenty of water. Take a camera, take some snacks, take your hat and your walking stick and twice as much water as you think you might need.

We headed back, and at the parking-lot checked my friend's FitBit; it read 4.88 miles for a round trip. Granted, we did a bit of wandering in the canyon to examine the glyphs and a FitBit isn't a GPS, but I'd say this was pretty close to accurate. Call it 4.7 miles for the round trip without any exploration; sadly, the spring was dry at the time (though there was some standing water in the deep waterhole below the main glyph panel) but I plan on hiking back there again this coming Spring to get a few shots of the stream in full flow.
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