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The Best Hikes of Estrella Mtn Regional Park

739 Triplog Reviews in the Estrella Mtn Regional Park
Most recent of 105 deeper Triplog Reviews
6.61 mi • 100 ft aeg
After work....after nap, run. Got to the TH around 3:30, napped for 30 minutes and was on the trail just after 4pm. The knees have been "talking" quite of bit of late, so I wasn't sure what I was going to do. Ended up doing a loop, starting on the Horseshoe trail and then going CW on the Toothacher - Dysart - Rainbow - Baseline - And back to the TH via the Gila Trail. Nice loop. All trails are well marked and easy to follow. Great for jogging. Minimal elevation change. Dysart trail is a little annoying because there are multiple washes that get my knees "talking" even more. This is my 3rd visit to the Estrellas in the last 6 weeks and I have yet to see anyone out there. No wildlife either. :( Temps were supposedly 109, but there were some slow moving clouds that kept me in the shade for a good portion of the run. 8)
3.77 mi • 460 ft aeg
After work jog in the Estrellas. Wanted to get a loop in incorporating Baseline Trail. Started from the Quail TH took that to the Saddle Trail to get to the Baseline. Did the Baseline Trail CCW with a slight twist. When I got to the Toothacher Trail, I took that south to the Rainbow and then took that to the Baseline-Rainbow connector. I then had to repeat a short segment of the Baseline as I continued in a CCW direction. This additional loop added about 1 mile to the run. I continued on the Baseline until I reconnected to the Saddle which I took back to the Quail and then back to the car. The Baseline Trail though short is a rough run. The north side has quite a bit up and down (especially CCW), and is pretty rocky. That being said it is a good work out trail. Once again I didn't see a soul while I was on the trail. I did see a chipmunk :y: so I did have some company.
6.5 mi • 400 ft aeg
After work jog. Finally bought my annual Maricopa Park Pass ($85). I've gone 5 months without hiking in the parks and though there are enough trails in the valley to keep me busy, I enjoy the convenience and the added options that come with the Maricopa Parks. I didn't get on the trail until 4pm. Basically did a CW loop. In on the Toothacher and back on the Rainbow. It seems they just regraded all the trails north of the Dysart Trail, which made for a powdery, soft run. I wasn't feeling it today so I kept my head down the entire run. I don't think I missed much though, not only did I not see another hiker in the park, I didn't see any cars at any of the TH while I was there.
15.3 mi • 1,195 ft aeg
My daughter's friend at school scored them and my wife and son tickets for Hamilton at ASU. Between that and the cooler weather in the desert now, this was the perfect opportunity to knock out this longer trail in the Estrellas. I hiked this once before nearly 16 years ago, but I can barely remember it at all. I think I did the loop counter-clockwise last time, but I'm not sure. This time I did it clockwise, noting that the last 2 miles would be an easy downgrade on the service road that serves as the Coldwater Trail.

Got started just after 6:30am, with just enough light to not need a headlamp. The first mile was chilly enough to need gloves and my hoodie up. Once the sun hit the horizon and the blood got flowing from the slight uphill grade, the hoodie came off quickly.

The Pedersen Trail starts to get interesting as it nears the Estrella Mountains. Lots of wash crossings on that east part of the loop, making for most of the AEG on this hike. Surprising how deep and wide some of the washes are here, but it is near the mountain, so I guess not so much.

The southernmost part of the loop where the Pedersen Trail runs east and west actually have better views than I expected, although the trail itself is just a service road that's so sandy it's like walking in a wash. I walked the edges of it for nearly 2 miles before I finally just got off trail on the north side, where it looked like mountain bikers and horse riders had done the same thing. It's the first time I can remember that hiking off trail was actually easier than hiking on the actual designated trail. :-k

Took a lunch break just after the 10 mile mark under the shade of a mesquite tree. It was interesting how quickly it got cool sitting in the shade and not moving. That normally happens at higher elevations. Nice to have that kind of weather in a Sonoran environment, even briefly.

Saw the first people just after lunch, 2 mountain bikers. After that I saw 2 trail runners and some hikers in the distance I neared the trailhead where you can see the other trails since they're so close.

Finished up about 1pm, 6 hours to hike over 15 miles.

15.79 mi • 1,022 ft aeg
The last time I hiked in Estrella Mountain Regional Park was six years ago. Other than Gadsden Trail being miles of deep, sandy, wash, Estrella’s trails were very mellow. Large mileage is available without doing an out & back, which I always try to avoid.

In 2011, took Gadsden Trail from Corgett Wash to Coldwater Trail. This time I did all of Pedersen Trail. (Three Es in the correct spelling.)

I ate breakfast at the Waffle House on Dysart, but still got to the trailhead before sunrise, which was typically Arizona awesome.

Throughout my hike, there were directional signs for a trail running ultramarathon. (The longer distances did five laps of this loop.) It made me think of “Signs”, by Five Man Electrical Band.

From Gadsden Trail, the stock cars at Phoenix International Raceway, five miles away, were clearly audible. And that was only one or two cars: Imagine if there were 43!

Pederson, south of Gadsden, has a TON of cholla, mostly teddy bear, though I also spotted some buckhorn. Six years ago, the cholla actually blocked the trail at points; now it is clear, except for the odd fallen ball.

After a long break at the far southeast corner of Pedersen -- 3 bar Verizon reception -- I continued west on Pedersen. Or just off it, in the desert, as the jeep trail was deep sand. I found one saguaro that was leaking so much sap it had a puddle at its base. Pretty cool.

At "155th Avenue" -- that is its real name -- I turned north, still on Pedersen. A mile up, I thought I saw a trailer, but it turned out to be large tent full of tables, chairs, cots, Coleman stoves, and two liter bottles of soda for the trail runners. Unfortunately, no beer. I took advantage of the shade, for my second break.

Just north of Corgett Wash, I could see I-10 against the White Tank Mountains.

Still on Pedersen, just before the intersection with Toothaker Trail, there is an interesting out crop of white rocks. (Smaller white rocks are scattered all over the park.)

Lots of small planes overhead, taking off from and landing at Goodyear Airport, which is visible from the west flank of Knobb Hill on Coldwater Trail.

The trail runners had another support tent at the corral. While the day started out cool & breezy, it had become warm & sunny, so I took a short break in the shade. I only had a mile to go, but I earned it.

In 2011, I said this was a really boring loop. This time, it was not so bad. Mostly, I did it for the miles. I know it's not a lot for many folks on here, but I'm trying to get 100 miles for the month. :)

Hike Video: [ youtube video ]
84.43 mi • 4,741 ft aeg
MT - Guadalupe to Trilby

Day 1, 20.1 miles, 2618 AEG

My wife dropped me off at the I17/Happy Valley Park & Ride where I took the I17 RAPID bus downtown, then hopped on the light rail east to Tempe, then got on another bus (62 South) to S Hardy Dr & W Guadalupe Rd where I exited the bus and started my hike. The transit worked really well except where I messed up in Tempe and missed the 62S bus and had to wait a 1/2 hour for the next. From there, it was a short walk west to the canal where I met up with the Maricopa Trail. I noticed the first MT sign approaching the I10 overpass. The MT continues to the Pima Canyon Trailhead, South Mountain. The trailhead is currently closed for construction but should be reopening soon. It was easy enough to skirt around the construction, there just wasn't access to the parking, restrooms, and water.

Most of this day was hiking the National Trail across South Mountain. My plan was to camp right around where I would exit the park but by the time I reached Telegraph Pass, I knew I would need more water before camping. I had about half a liter when I left the park. I turned south and walked to a house hoping to get water but no one answered so I continued along the MT to 51st Ave where I turned south and stopped at another house where I was allowed to get water.

After getting water, I went back and continued along the MT for maybe half a mile where I stopped to camp. I wanted to get far enough away from the busy road where it wouldn't be as loud during the night. After setting things up, I was just about ready to start dinner when a tribal policeman saw me and stopped. Evidently I was on Gila River tribal land and wasn't allowed to camp there, so I moved my camp about 400' to the other side of the road. The road is the reservation boundary: west side is Gila River Indian Reservation land.

Day 2, 21.6 miles, 875 AEG

There was a lot of traffic noise all night and construction going on north of me so I didn't have the greatest sleep and had trouble getting going in the morning. It was a bit past eight when I continued walking NW down the MT which is the power line road here.

The MT continues down the power line road most all the way to Tres Rios. The east part of Tres Rios is abandoned and parched now. It used to be a heritage site and was a really nice area to walk around but now it is wasteland. Interestingly enough, there is a pair of bald eagles nesting in a dead tree here. The Tribal Policeman told me about the eagles and said to just be quiet as I walked past. The nest was easy to spot and I watched one of the eagles flying around.

West of 91st Ave, there's an MT sign pointing west next to a City of Phoenix sign saying No Trespassing. I decided to trespass as the two signs were contradicting eachother and, well, I'm walking the MT. The "closed area" probably extends to 97th Ave. This whole stretch is along a two lane wide dirt road that was actively being used, though it is gated at least from 91st.

From there the MT continues along Tres Rios to PIR. Most of it is tiered wetlands to the north of the trail (dirt road). Along this stretch two policeman cruised up and talked to me. They patrol the area for people illegally shooting, fishing without a license, and for not having a Tres Rios access permit. At the time, I did not know a permit was needed but it is free, is good for a month after issue, and is available at ... ontactustr.

Once past the wetlands portion of Tres Rios, the MT is a little more difficult to follow but manageable. I was nearing PIR and was getting low on water too, so I stopped to get a couple liters of water at a pond. Tres Rios is wetlands created from City of Phoenix Waste Water Treatment Facility. All the tiers of the wetlands help to filter and clean the water so I wanted to wait as long as possible before getting any water, if at all. Unfortunately I had to get water. The water in the pond was a bit stagnant so it wasn't the best tasting. Fortunately a short distance later, I crossed the Gila River where the water was flowing, so I dumped out what I had got and replaced it.

From Tres Rios, the MT continues past PIR along Indian Springs Rd. There was a lot of construction going on at PIR. The MT then turns south on the east entrance road into Estrella Mountain Regional Park. From there, it first follows the Desert Rose trail and is easy to follow the MT signs to the park's Nature Center.

When I reached the Nature Center, it was after five so nobody was around to ask about camping. I decided to camp at the large ramadas that were nearby with both water and a restroom and power outlets at the tables. About 3 AM, I was awoken by people talking. After a bit I noticed a police car arriving. Awhile later a deisel truck arrived. I believe it was a tow truck but didn't look to see. Finally after 4, the truck left and the police cars started to leave. I thought, good, I'll be able to sleep now, when the police parked their vehicle pointing right at me. Wonderful. I got up and talked to the police, they took my ID and I imagine checked for any outstanding warrants and whatever else they check. We talked for a bit and they left me since they decided I wasn't a bum and wouldn't freeze to death. It turns out a man was threatening suicide and once that was taken care of, they needed the ramada number to place their location on the police report and that is why they happened to see me.

So finally I thought I could get some sleep but then the coyotes lit up. They were yelping and barking and howling like crazy. There must have been well over a dozen of them and they were very close. The kept the racket up off and on for the next hour or so. Ugh.

Day 3, 23.8 miles, 651 AEG

The MT was very well signed on the Estrella Park trails, but once I passed the Nature Center, I wasn't spotting any and wasn't sure exactly where to go. From what I can tell now, there is no MT from the Nature Center to the Beaver TH, which I missed. From the Nature Center I went east on Casey Abbot Dr until I reached an old bikepath heading to the left (west) and took it until it ended, then followed Vineyard to Estrella Pkwy. While along the path, I saw one of those noisy coyotes. It turns out if I went a short distance farther on Casey Abbot Dr, I could then have turned north and crossed Vineyard at Bullard (there may be a fence so I'm not even sure that would work), then the Beaver TH would have been just to the east. As I was entering the bridge on Estrella Pkwy, I saw where the MT came up to where I was, along with an MT sign.

The MT continues north on Estrella Pkwy for about 1.8 miles. When it reaches MC85, I think I was supposed to cross to the east side of Estrella Pkwy, but missed that. When I reached Bullard Ave, I saw an MT sign pointing to the east side. I continued north but think I should have turned west onto Bullard. Instead, I turned west onto Wood Blvd, then crossed a fallow field to where I was able to pick up the MT where it headed north to Yuma Rd.

Here the MT follows Yuma Rd west for 5.7 miles, then turns north on Jackrabbit. The road is busy for a ways and it is noisy and a true urban experience. On the west end, it gets rural as you pass by cotton fields. There's about a 1.5 mile span of "no trail" as you cross under I10 on Jackrabbit then turn west on McDowell. McDowell is closed as you near Bulldozer Wash, which is where the MT is supposed to pick back up. I continued west into Verrado where I stopped at Culver's for a burger and fries and a cold drink. After my break I returned to Bulldozer Wash and tried to pick up the MT. I was hoping to see some signs but I didn't. I walked north up the dirt that started at the power poles, then crossed over to the Verrado paths west of the wash when I reached some fencing. I think I should have crossed over earlier around where the power poles turned to the substation.

I followed the Verrado foot paths up to Indian School Rd where I turned east back to Jackrabbit. At Jackrabbit, I followed some paths north where I started seeing MT signs again. Yeah!

I thought I saw a QT on Jackrabbit on Google maps but I was mistaken so when I reached the last houses before getting to the desert, I knocked on doors until someone answered and let me get some water. Actually, I only knocked on two doors. The first no one was home, and I picked the second because there was three cars in front of it.

So it was nice to get off the roads and onto some trail again. Unfortunately it took me almost all day for that to happen. As the day ended and it grew dark, I found all but one of a "Maricopa Trail" series of geocaches, saving the last for tomorrow.

Unless you're hell bent on walking all of the MT, I suggest either cycling this day's section or just skipping it altogether.

Day 4, 18.9 miles, 576 AEG

I slept pretty good especially since I was tired from lack of sleep the night before and despite some all night partiers a few hundred yards away. I was delaying getting up but then I looked to the east and could see the sunrise was going to be exceptional so up I rose. If you've never seen a sunrise from the White Tanks, I encourage you to do so. The valley stretches out uninterrupted to the east for miles and when the conditions are right, the sunrises are as good as they get. This morning's was truly spectacular.

I had a couple miles before I entered White Tanks Mountain Regional Park. I took a quick side trip to the Nature Center where I wanted to see where the last water was before leaving the park. There was a volunteer I asked while pointing to a spot on the map. She replied that there's no water in the park. I guess she's not familiar with the park as there is lots picnic areas and camping with water in it. So she asked someone in a room behind here and there was water at the place on the map I asked about, maybe two miles farther. The area was a nice picnic area with restrooms and ramadas and a playground. I stopped and got water and had some food before continuing.

I've been on all the MT from where I exited the park to where I stopped for the day previously, either walking or cycling. The trail is very flat except for where it crosses some washes. Most of it is good tread though the dust was very thick in places since it's been so long since rain. The area is not that spectacular though there are some good views of the White Tanks, Estrellas, and the mountains to the north, such as the Heiroglyphics.

I finished up at the Trilby Trailhead. Basically the trail crosses Grand Ave at 163rd ave, then turns right past the train tracks and follows the road a short distance to the trailhead. Not long after I reached Trilby, my wife showed up and shuttled me back home.
10.5 mi • 873 ft aeg
Later kickoff for the Steeler game so I went out to get another quick hike in. Started just after 6am and hiked the first 45 minutes in the dark with a headlamp. When I left my house in Mesa, there was a downpour of rain, and a little thunder and lightning on top of that. By the time I was past the 101 on I-10, the roads were dry. It was cloudy for first 2 hours, but then the sun came out the last 2 hours.

From the rodeo parking lot, I took the Coldwater Trail to the Gadsden, then headed back on the Butterfield Trail to the parking lot. did a couple spurs off of the loop to hike some sections of trails and to add a little bit of mileage. Finished up in 4 hours and was home by noon.
13.01 mi • 409 ft aeg
Got a late start today so I needed something close to home. Headed out to the Estrella's and did a loop involving the Gadsden. It has been a year since I had done this loop and I had forgotten that they had done a signicant face lift to the eastern portion, so it was nice to revisit it. Started off from the Coldwater TH and went clockwise taking the Coldwater to Butterfield and then Quiclky on to the Gadsden. It was obvious that they had just been out there on their tractor, grading portions of the trail. I have mixed feelings on this. The trails are nice to run, but the trails lose some of their personality. Enjoyed revisiting the new portions of the Gadsden, though oddly enough I do miss the wash. The sand was never fun to jog in, but the wash had...personality. Jogged by that new trail that was created last year. Nobody from HAZ has mentioned it yet (that I've seen). I'm not sure if that means it is that uninteresting or nobody gotten out there yet. I guess I'll have to find out for myself. Took the Gadsden out to the Pedersen. The last stretch of the Gadsden is not much fun. Sandy and flat. No vultures to keep me company this time either. Took the Pedersen into the Toothacher. Felt myself fading so I had my head down for most of this, which is a shame, since this is one of the nicer section of this loop (but that might not be saying much). There is a system of trails to the west that interacts a little bit with these hills. (The system of trails are accessed primarily from the Estrella Mountain Ranch Community; though they can also be accessed by the Crossover Trail, that junctures with the Pedersen). I didn't see anyone up there today...though my head was down. Took the Toothacher into the Butterfield junction and the Butterfield over to the car. Faded a about a mile out, so ended up walking the last section. (Sadness). Nice jog. Weather was great. I would have liked to have been able to finish the run...just shows that I need to get out more frequently. Trails were moderately busy today. Saw 6 hikers, 2 bikers, and 2 equestrian. No wildlife.
9.5 mi • 1,065 ft aeg
With another late kickoff for the Steelers, I decided to get a quick morning hike in again. Took a ride out to Estrella Mtn Park again to do the trails there again. I got a new camera to replace my old one, which appears to have officially died. I played with it a little bit to compare some of the settings and used the 50x zoom on some far away hills.

I started from the Quail Trail, then took the Rainbow Valley south to the Dysart Trail, then east and went north on the Butterfield Trail, then headed back to the TH along the Toothaker, Baseline and Saddle Trails. Saw only a few hikers. There were probably more combined bikers, trail runners, and horse riders. Didn't get a chance to use my zoom on any interesting animals. Finished up just after 10am and headed home.
6.51 mi • 100 ft aeg
Wanted something close to home, so I headed out to the Estrella's. Ended up doing a loop involving several trails. Went clockwise: Horseshoe-Toothacher-Dysart-Rainbow-connector to baseline-Baseline-Gila. Ended up being a nice group of trails to run on. Fairly well graded and relatively flat. Temps were great! Saw a couple of hikers on the Rainbow, but otherwise had the trails to myself. While I was on the Rainbow, I noticed that they're starting to do some construction in the Estrella Mountain Ranch Community, near the "art piece" that you pass as you drive in on the Estrella Parkway. Not sure what will be built there, but it is shame. I thought that was a nice little vista when I looked in that direction.

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