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Loop 202 South Mountain, AZ
mini location map2019-12-07
26 by photographer avatarkingsnake
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Loop 202 South Mountain, AZ 
Loop 202 South Mountain, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 07 2019
Hiking11.25 Miles 1,577 AEG
Hiking11.25 Miles   4 Hrs   33 Mns   2.47 mph
1,577 ft AEG
Partners none no partners
Hike Video: [ youtube video ]

From Bajada Trailhead, I followed National Trail 1.5 miles to the east end of Taylor-Morrison’s luxury development. I then went off trail up Main Ridge South. The grab & stabs were minimal, but is steep. I found a 10ft. deep unmarked test shaft along the way. ⚒️

Travel along the top of Main Ridge South was easy, with a few small outcroppings easily avoided. When I first gained the crest of the ridge, I was a ½ mile northeast of the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway’s big curve at the west end of Pecos Rd. It’s a stretch that spans Waypoint 1 through Waypoint 5. (The former being the old pump station at 3303 Pecos Rd., which disappeared sometime after my seventh survey hike in April, 2018; the latter being near the petroglyph site.)

I briefly considered heading straight over the side of Main Ridge South, but its south side looked much steeper. So, I headed west for a ½ mile, as it gradually descended, before hopping onto Shaughnessey Ave.

At Waypoint 1, right on the edge of the non-eminent domained existing Pecos Rd. community, I noticed that there was a very tall, dark, sound barrier. I had seen the pale ribs from up on Main Ridge South, but could not distinguish the wall from the paved Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway surface. 🔭

The Center Segment, which is what I survey, has been fully paved. The Taylor-Morrison luxury development also has a sound wall, but it is pale. The entire length of the segment has barriers between the north- and south-bound lanes. Pavement markings and light poles have yet to be added anywhere along the segment. There were a few white-on-green exit signs — e.g. “Vee Quiva Way ↗” — but I’m not sure if that is all the ones the segment will have.

All the bridges, multi-use crossings and culverts have been installed. Only one culvert still had its wooden concrete forms. I could have safely travelled under any of the five multi-use crossings to the narrow strip of public land between the west side of the freeway and the Gila River Indian Community, but workers were still doing finishing work on the crossings. The only underpass currently in legal civilian use is the access road to the Dusty Lane community.

After checking out Waypoints 1-5, I headed up 35th Avenue to the luxury development’s gate, climbed up 50 ft. to the barbwire fence which borders the right-of-way on Main Ridge South, then followed the fence line down the north slope of the ridge. Crossing the ¾ mile wide valley to Main Ridge North, I took care to trespass on neither freeway nor luxury development property. (Some of which people have now moved into.) 💰

The rock crushing plant at Waypoint 9 is gone, but the sign remains, letting all & sundry know that its permit is good until 2022. Though there are still plenty of junk piles scattered about the west end of South Mountain Park: Today’s neatest find was a terrain engineering schematic that wind had blown out of the construction zone.

I briefly to diverted off the right-of-way to check out the Graffiti Ranch. It had some really nice graffiti pieces, when I first started my survey hikes, but it has been whitewashed the last several years. There’s still enough structure left that it made a shady spot for lunch. (It was otherwise overcast the rest of the day.)

After lunch, I hiked past the dragged gravel spot that used to be Rock Wall Ranch, then began the steep fenceline-following ascent to the top of Main Ridge North. The fence at the top has been moved out from the right-of-way, so I couldn’t get a close look at Waypoint #15, where I used to enjoy my hiking beer, but there were still great views southeast to Main Ridge South, and northwest past Vee Quiva Casino and Dusty Lane, towards the tip of Alta Ridge at 51st Ave. 🎰

Rather than walk through the Dusty Lane community, I followed the South Mountain Park fenceline to the Maricopa Trail on the south slope of Alta Ridge. The Maricopa Trail is a 315-mile loop around the Phoenix metropolitan area, but I was only on it for a ½ mile, as I headed west towards Waypoint 25.5, the location of the last Dusty Lane home condemned to make way for the freeway.

The survey portion of my Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway hike complete, I continued 2.0 miles clockwise around Alta Ridge on some really nice, recently-constructed, trail to the San Juan Trailhead, where I hooked back up with National Trail for the final 1.5 miles to my SUV at Bajada Trailhead.

As I mentioned earlier, this was my last of ten semiannual survey hikes. I hope you enjoyed following the changes to the west end of South Mountain Park, if not necessarily the changes themselves. Hopefully, when the Center Segment opens for business in another month or so, the congestion relief on I-10 through Tempe will have been worth it.

10th Survey Hike Video:

Previous Survey Hikes:
1) 2015-04-13: [ photoset ]
2) 2015-12-17: [ photoset ]
5) 2017-04-28: [ photoset ]
6) 2017-11-08: [ photoset ]
7) 2018-04-20: [ photoset ]
8) 2018-11-07: [ photoset ]
9) 2019-04-06: [ photoset ]
Named place
Named place
Alta Ridge Sierra Estrella
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