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71 triplogs

Oct 20 2020
KingLeonidas
avatar

 Guides 7
 Routes 36
 Photos 100
 Triplogs 71

31 male
 Joined Oct 23 2017
 Tempe
Devil's PlaygroundNortheast, AZ
Northeast, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 20 2020
KingLeonidas
Hiking7.15 Miles 521 AEG
Hiking7.15 Miles   4 Hrs   3 Mns   1.77 mph
521 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Intro
The Devil's Playground is a relatively remote area of the Petrified Forest National Park home to a plethora of interesting geological features. It is unique in that the colorful clay mounds in this area are often capped with colorful-stone that monsoon floods convert to short, and probably short-lived, hoodoos. These hoodoos are as numerous as they are varied, with some examples are up to 100' tall while others are as small as toadstools and all sizes in between. This area used to be very difficult to access, requiring a ~7-mile hike one-way just to reach the area. In 2015, the park was expanded, and an easement across private property granted for a much shorter 2.5 mile (one-way) trek into the Playground.

Logistics/Getting there
Some off-road driving is required to reach the trailhead. The exact details are subject to change and will be provided at the Petrified Forest National Park visitor's center when receiving your permit for the hike. Directions were current at the time of writing, please edit as needed. A high clearance vehicle is required, and both the jeep trail to the parking area and the trail itself cross washes (one of them quite large), so this hike is not accessible during monsoons or flash floods.

Permit
At the time of writing (October 2020), there are 3 permits issued per week to access Devil's Playground. They can only be received in person at the visitor's center on a first-come-first-served basis. There is no extra charge for the permit beyond the regular National Park entrance fee. We arrived on Saturday, and two of the 3 permits for the week had been claimed that morning. We were able to secure the last permit on Sunday morning following. Even with the new approach hike's reduced distance, the total 7+ mile distance and trailhead vehicle access challenges keep this permit from getting too popular.

Navigation
Reading the national park literature and talking to the rangers about the subject one would think that navigating this trail is difficult. In practice, we didn't find it to be that bad. After crossing Lithodendron Wash, the first National Park Service Marker was immediately apparent. The markers, which are brown fiberglass stakes ~3" wide and 6' tall, are regularly spaced so that you can usually see the next two markers going forward from any given spot on the trail. Anyone who has been to White Sands National park will be familiar with this trail marking approach as the same system is used there. The only challenge is that the markers here are brown and can, at times, be difficult to spot against the natural colors of the landscape. The markers at White Sands were pink and easier to spot.

Besides the navigation markers, the trail itself is lightly trafficked and can be faint in areas. When in doubt, look for stock droppings. I am guessing that the rangers occasionally take mules into the area for maintenance because evidence of the animal passage was nearly as regular as the trail markers.

The markers will lead you to a barbed wire fence and gate through it, after which there are no other markers. This gate (I think) indicates the end of the private property access hike and the beginning of the national park boundary (maybe the pre-2015 boundary) and the Devil's Playground's general area.

After passing through the gate, there isn't an official trail or route. The immediate hill in front of you is not that interesting but just past it and/or to the left are access points (with some mild scrambling) to the Devil's Playground. There are various features and formations to observe. You will find many interesting places by wandering in and out of the canyons. I recommend against trying to follow any particular path after the gate and explore to your heart's content.

Trail Conditions
Initially, the trail shadows Lithodendron Wash for ~ 1 mile before starting to head uphill. At 1.25 miles, you will come across a "Mini Devil's Playground," a small patch of painted desert with a sampling of petrified wood and the features that are to come. The remainder of the approach trail is typical high desert until you reach the gate, where you can start to catch glimpses of the Devil's Playground in the distance.

The terrain is not very difficult on the approach, but there are some areas where you will be walking through grass and may get some foxtails in your socks. In the "playground" type areas, the clay is somewhat soft, and there may be dry channels that you will need to step across or jump. Some of the playground slopes have pieces of petrified wood or larger stones, making for unstable footing.

Weather
We did this hike at the beginning of October. It was nice and cool in the morning, but you knew you were in the desert by the late afternoon. This was probably the optimum season for the hike; we just had an unusually hot day. Spring would likely be a good choice. Monsoon season should probably be treated with caution to eliminate the possibility of being trapped by a flash flood.

Water
There are no water sources in this area, so you will need to bring adequate water with you. This area would be a good place to overnight backpack (I think this is an option in the Permit system), but the lack of water sources nearby makes this more challenging.

General Comments and Musings
We have explored many trails (both well marked and off-trail options) at the Petrified Forest National Park on two separate trips. We haven't done them all (or possibly even most of them), but so far, this one was our favorite. There is a wide variety of features and beautiful colors everywhere. With surprises around every corner, this hike makes you feel like a kid in a playground. This is one of those places where even a mediocre photographer can capture stunning shots without even trying.

The Devil's Playground's size and the non-negligible distance of the approach hike mean an early start is required. We slept in a bit and spent longer than intended getting started, so we had to limit our explorations to get back home at a reasonable hour. This area has lots of nooks and crannies to explore, and you could easily spend a whole day out there and probably not see everything worth seeing.

This was a fantastic hike. The clay's soft nature that makes up the base material means that this area presumably changes after each monsoon season. I look forward to returning in the future to see what has changed and to explore more of the area.

Hike Video: [ youtube video ]
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2 archives
Sep 06 2020
KingLeonidas
avatar

 Guides 7
 Routes 36
 Photos 100
 Triplogs 71

31 male
 Joined Oct 23 2017
 Tempe
Humphreys Summit Trail #151Flagstaff, AZ
Flagstaff, AZ
Hiking avatar Sep 06 2020
KingLeonidas
Hiking10.48 Miles 3,411 AEG
Hiking10.48 Miles   6 Hrs   49 Mns   1.70 mph
3,411 ft AEG      40 Mns Break10 LBS Pack
 
no photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Route Scout GPS Route Recorded on Route Scout View
My wife and I decided to try for a Mt Humphreys Summit on Labor Day weekend. I have done this trail before but it was to be Victoria's first time. We drove up to Flagstaff on Saturday and spent the night to help acclimatize to the altitude a bit.

The first half of the trail was well shaded and the weather was unusually warm (for Humphreys). Sort sleeves were possible the whole way up (if you were using sunscreen) and the strong winds were not present even at the summit. It was actually warmer on the second, fully exposed, half of the trail the breezes were so light.

The trail conditions unchanged from my last hike here with the covered portion having uncovered roots in many sections providing some stumbling points (especially on the way down). The exposed sections were rockier but neither posed much of a technical challenge as far as terrain goes.

There are several lookout points on the way up and the view was excellent. They were running the chairlift (an alternative option for those that want to ascend the easy way) but we returned too late to go for a ride on it. The view from the saddle and top were excellent as well.

There were quite a few people summiting this weekend. I'm guessing the good weather combined with the holiday brought many people out. We even saw a few backpackers that were heading down in the morning. It was fairly crowded at the saddle and we had to wait a bit before getting photos at the top.

Humphreys is fun because the after going for a few miles you usually end up "leapfrogging" with other groups of hikers. One group will stop to take a breather and be overtaken only to overtake you again later while you are stopping for a snack or something. Each time this occurs, it provides a brief opportunity for conversation or jokes which most everyone took advantage of making the hike a fairly social event.

I mapped the route on route scout and noted the location of some promising looking scree fields. Next time I come here I will have to try to find the Bomber; one of these fields may provide a clearer route to get there.

Hike Video: [ youtube video ]
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Aug 22 2020
KingLeonidas
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 Guides 7
 Routes 36
 Photos 100
 Triplogs 71

31 male
 Joined Oct 23 2017
 Tempe
Waterfall Trail - Fossil CreekCamp Verde, AZ
Camp Verde, AZ
Hiking avatar Aug 22 2020
KingLeonidas
Hiking2.48 Miles 249 AEG
Hiking2.48 Miles   1 Hour   40 Mns   1.91 mph
249 ft AEG      22 Mns Break12 LBS Pack
 
no photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Route Scout GPS Route Recorded on Route Scout View
Hiked Waterfall Trail at Fossil Creek with my wife.

We finally got around to seeing Fossil Creek, it did not disappoint!

Permits seem to be a hot commodity, we were able to get some by logging in to recreation.gov the morning they became available and got one without much difficulty, the permit was $6.

The drive in was several miles of forest road. It was listed as high clearance recommended but a regular car could have made it at least to the Fossil Creek Bridge without any trouble (we were in fact followed out by a sedan). There is a fairly rough patch after the ridge but it it was no problem for a small 2wd pickup.

Permit enforcement was pretty strict, there were 2 sets of rangers you had to present your permits to in order to get in.

We parked at the 2nd parking lot and walked to the 1/4 mile to the trailhead from there.

The trail is short and partially shaded with trees. Along the way there are several spots where the creek is visible and accessible as tranquil swimming holes and small waterfalls of various sorts. As the day progressed more and more of these became occupied. The trail was mostly sandy with a large bolder wash section and a few log bridges over muddy sections. Following the creek made navigation trivial.

At the end of the trail is a 10-15' high waterfall which had a large pool and a grotto. This was the most popular place to hang out and it was well populated but not too crowded. The pool at the base of the waterfall was large and deep enough for swimming, there was a current but it didn't seem to be terribly strong. The grotto could be accessed along the right hand side by traversing along the travertine slick rock. Water shoes with good traction were a great asset for reaching this spot. I wouldn't try to access it by swimming, the current seemed to be pulling towards the falls in this area...

The waterfall is also a popular spot for cliff jumping, popular enough to warrant a permanent sign warning of possible underwater hazards. As far as cliff jumping spots go it is pretty good. Getting to the top is done by a quick and relatively easy scramble, even with wet feet, up some rocks on the right hand side. The height of the cliff is moderate and the target area is pretty large, it was very deep and not hard to hit. You aren't threading the needle as is sometimes necessary at places like "The Crack" or having to fight the current as is necessary at "Secret Falls". The creek level was relatively low when we were there, maybe 6" above average summer minimums at 3' of depth (at least according to the Verde River Hydrograph).

This was a good "hang out at the swimming hole all day" sort of spot and is the easiest one to get to (that I know of) in Arizona. This is probably why it is so popular and needs a permit system to keep from getting overused. I would definitely do it again and plan to stay longer.

Hike Video:
[ youtube video ]
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3 archives
Apr 05 2020
KingLeonidas
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 Guides 7
 Routes 36
 Photos 100
 Triplogs 71

31 male
 Joined Oct 23 2017
 Tempe
Alta TrailPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 05 2020
KingLeonidas
Hiking4.50 Miles 1,438 AEG
Hiking4.50 Miles   2 Hrs   20 Mns   1.99 mph
1,438 ft AEG      4 Mns Break6 LBS Pack
 
no photosets
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Route Scout GPS Route Recorded on Route Scout View
Another of our "Corona" hikes. Did a portion of the Laveen side of Alta trail on South mountain as a fitness hike with my wife.

We were trying to get some stuff done this weekend so we wanted to hike that was close to home, that is not a long drive, but still empty enough for easy social distancing.

So we gave our favorite summer night hike location a shot in the afternoon. We were not disappointed.

We started our hike at the Curtis saddle trailhead, basically the side of West Estrella drive in laveen. There were about a half dozen cars parked along the side of the road. But most of the hikers were doing the lower elevation loops around San Juan trailhead. We only passed 2 parties going up Alta trail. Both parties practiced good social distancing trail etiquette so I guess they were looking for the same thing we were in terms of a hike location.

The flowers were full bloom and there were quite a few beetles buzzing around and pollinating them. Victoria was not pleased as the beetles seemed to find her purple outfit attractive!

The weather was perfect It was hot but not too hot and we worked up a decent sweat getting to the top.

At the trailhead we did see something suspicious. Two guys were sitting there in an older white Chevy Tahoe with the engine idling and windows down. They had been there before we arrived and we're still sitting there after we had gotten all geared up for our hike. They didn't look to be hikers (no hiking appropriate apparel) and I thought they might be casing cars to break into. We made an obvious show of putting our cell phones and other valuables into our daypacks in full view of them in an attempt to discourage them from breaking the windows of my truck to search inside. Perhaps they got the picture because they left after our ostentatious display (including a loud discussion about not leaving anything valuable in the car). Stay safe out there folks!

This was definitely a good Corona hike, suspicious folks at the trailhead aside.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Moderate
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Mar 29 2020
KingLeonidas
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 Guides 7
 Routes 36
 Photos 100
 Triplogs 71

31 male
 Joined Oct 23 2017
 Tempe
Daisy Mountain - AnthemPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 29 2020
KingLeonidas
Hiking6.53 Miles 1,620 AEG
Hiking6.53 Miles   3 Hrs   1 Min   2.28 mph
1,620 ft AEG      9 Mns Break6 LBS Pack
 
no photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Route Scout GPS Route Recorded on Route Scout View
Hiked Daisy mountain with my wife as the first of our "Corona" hikes.

The idea behind a "Corona" hike is to find a trail where there are very few people likely to be present so social distancing is easy.

Given that Daisy mountain is a bit of a drive or most people in the Phoenix metro area and it's a fairly difficult hike we figured it wouldn't be too crowded.

Turns out we were right and after the initial trailhead, which had a fair number of people on it, we passed less than a half dozen parties during the entire hike.

We've hiked Daisy mountain before but this time we skipped the loop and just did the summit and back. A lot of the cactus and other vegetation was in flower and it was very pretty.

Definitely recommend as a good corona hike.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Moderate
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Mar 21 2020
KingLeonidas
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 Guides 7
 Routes 36
 Photos 100
 Triplogs 71

31 male
 Joined Oct 23 2017
 Tempe
Yavapai Point/Pipeline Trial-Lake Pleasant, AZ 
Yavapai Point/Pipeline Trial-Lake Pleasant, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Mar 21 2020
KingLeonidas
Hiking4.97 Miles 911 AEG
Hiking4.97 Miles   1 Hour   56 Mns   2.76 mph
911 ft AEG      8 Mns Break8 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Route Scout GPS Route Recorded on Route Scout View
Hiked Yavapai Point and Pipeline trail with my wife while canoe camping at Lake Pleasant.

This was at the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak and we suspected that the state would start closing or restricting access to more popular day use areas, lakes, and trails soon due to popularity combined with the improving weather. So we figured we would capitalize on the Lake Pleasant still being open and spend the weekend there. As part of that weekend trip we hiked to Yavapi Point and the Pipeline trail.

Both trails are well maintained and moderately trafficked and require a moderate walk along the road to reach to trailhead from the boat ramp.

Yavapai point was very nice because at the summit there were benches where you could sit, cool off, and see the lake for miles in every direction. The view was awesome and we sat here for a good while just watching the boats and the birds.

On the way down we took a crossover trail to pipeline and started heading towards the bridge. This trail was pretty unremarkable. One of the most notable events of the hike were the burros. There was a mother and baby burro south of pipeline trail and close enough to be seen and heard easily. They did not stick around long but it was was cool that we were able to get that close.

That weekend the water levels in the lake were very high and the pipeline trail bridge was out of service. The trail to it on the northern end was submerged for ~20 to 50 feet so there was no finishing that hike without swimming. We turned back at the bridge and headed back to the trail head.

Yavapai point made this a worthwhile hike. Next time I might try paddling up to the pipeline bridge and hiking Yavapai point from there.
Fauna
Fauna
Common Raven
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Mar 15 2020
KingLeonidas
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 Guides 7
 Routes 36
 Photos 100
 Triplogs 71

31 male
 Joined Oct 23 2017
 Tempe
Hidden Valley via Mormon TrailPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 15 2020
KingLeonidas
Hiking3.89 Miles 961 AEG
Hiking3.89 Miles   1 Hour   44 Mns   2.24 mph
961 ft AEG6 LBS Pack
 
no photosets
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Route Scout GPS Route Recorded on Route Scout View
Hiked the hidden valley via Mormon trail with my wife as a fitness hike. Hike was too long ago to record details.
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Mar 08 2020
KingLeonidas
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 Guides 7
 Routes 36
 Photos 100
 Triplogs 71

31 male
 Joined Oct 23 2017
 Tempe
Tom's Thumb Trail - MSPPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 08 2020
KingLeonidas
Hiking4.04 Miles 1,373 AEG
Hiking4.04 Miles   1 Hour   22 Mns   2.99 mph
1,373 ft AEG      1 Min Break6 LBS Pack
 
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Route Scout GPS Route Recorded on Route Scout View
Hike Tom's Thumb with my wife as a fitness hike. Hike was too long ago to write specific details.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Moderate
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Feb 09 2020
KingLeonidas
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 Guides 7
 Routes 36
 Photos 100
 Triplogs 71

31 male
 Joined Oct 23 2017
 Tempe
Camelback Summit - Echo Canyon THPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 09 2020
KingLeonidas
Hiking2.49 Miles 1,314 AEG
Hiking2.49 Miles   1 Hour   36 Mns   1.68 mph
1,314 ft AEG      7 Mns Break6 LBS Pack
 
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Route Scout GPS Route Recorded on Route Scout View
Did as a fitness hike with my wife. Hike was too long ago for specific details. Need to do trip reports sooner after the hike.
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Feb 02 2020
KingLeonidas
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 Guides 7
 Routes 36
 Photos 100
 Triplogs 71

31 male
 Joined Oct 23 2017
 Tempe
Elephant Mountain Summit - Spur CrossPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 02 2020
KingLeonidas
Hiking6.96 Miles 2,187 AEG
Hiking6.96 Miles   4 Hrs   51 Mns   1.61 mph
2,187 ft AEG      32 Mns Break8 LBS Pack
 
no photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Route Scout GPS Route Recorded on Route Scout View
Hiked Elephant Mountain Summit with my wife.

This one was a doozy! A friend of ours recommended Elephant Mountain to as a good, more serious sort of hike. We decided to give it a shot.

The initial part of the ascent follows a clear path that is a bit rocky but otherwise straightforward to follow and navigate.

At around 3 miles in things get very interesting. The trail to the summit leaves the main established trail and heads due east up the "spine" of the ridge. The terrain goes from standard established trail quality to treacherous fine gravel almost immediately. The surface material combined with the steep (and getting steeper as the ascent progressed) slope often perpendicular to the path of travel made this one a real challenge. The entire way up the thought that you will have to go back down that slippery trail is hanging in the back of your mind and making you question whether you should give up and turn back.

In the better established early sections the trail is somewhat concave. In these sections it is possible to "chimney" to keep from slipping. In other later sections the only option is to try to select larger embedded stones as footholds that are less likely to come loose and send you sliding down the mountain.

In addition to the difficult footwork, navigation became a bit more challenging as well. The trail is not well established and can be missed in washes and overgrowth. Two sections in particular posed a challenge.

Shortly after leaving the established trail the path approaches a wall (I think this is the "face" of the elephant). The correct route is to go along the right hand side of the wall until a section with a steep slippery ascent/traverse is found. From there the route is more straightforward following the "spine" of the elephant as best you can (straying to either side forces you to contend with a slippery traverse). The last navigational challenge comes nearly at the summit. Again you are faced with a steep wall that looks a bit too steep to be the intended trail. This time you have to work your way along the left hand side until you come to a slightly less high section that is more reasonable to climb up. After climbing this wall and avoiding several cactus growing in very inconvenient locations the summit is reached.

The view at the top was spectacular but it was fairly windy so we did not stay long, we wanted to start the descent even though we were dreading it. The descent was about as harrowing as expected but we got back to the established trail with only a few stops to remove cactus stickers from the seat of pants (after slipping and falling) and the soles of hiking shoes.

This was a very technically challenging hike. The steep sideways traverses combined with slippery sand/gravel surfaces made for a nerve wracking experience. The difficult portions also tended to be well populated with cholla which added insult to injury each time one of us made a misstep. It is possible the unusually wet winter and a lack of foot traffic made the trail more slippery than usual.

I would recommend this hike to anyone looking for a serious technical hiking challenge, but I'm not sure I would attempt it myself a 2nd time.
_____________________
Jan 19 2020
KingLeonidas
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 Guides 7
 Routes 36
 Photos 100
 Triplogs 71

31 male
 Joined Oct 23 2017
 Tempe
Cave Creek Indian Ruins at Chalk CanyonPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 19 2020
KingLeonidas
Hiking9.90 Miles 1,510 AEG
Hiking9.90 Miles   4 Hrs   24 Mns   2.42 mph
1,510 ft AEG      19 Mns Break6 LBS Pack
 
no photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Route Scout GPS Route Recorded on Route Scout View
Hiked to the Cave Creek Indian Ruins at Chalk Canyon with my wife. This was a new spot for us, we were looking for a hike that wasn't too popular (crowded), was reasonably physically challenging, and had some point of interest. With it's rarely explored ruins, this fit the bill nicely!

Trailhead/Getting there
The trip started at the spur cross ranch conservation area parking lot. There were quite a few cars in the lot but we did not have to wait to get a spot. After paying the entry fee ($3 per person) we started on the trail.

Trail Conditions
Despite the crowded parking lot the hiking population quickly thinned out after the first mile or so. It seems that most of the trails in this area run east towards the Elephant Mountain area and our northern path quickly cleared out.

The trail sees frequent equestrian traffic, we passed three separate groups on mules while we were there and there was a fair amount of dung that had to be stepped around.

There were 10 creek crossings that had to be traversed on this hike. Technically there are only 6 unique crossings but the route is a lasso-loop so you have to cross 4 of them twice. The crossings tended to be wide, shallow (ankle to calf deep), and not moving fast, at least while we were there. There were rock hopping opportunities at each of the crossings and we managed all of them without getting wet.

The condition of the trail varied. The earlier sections were mostly packed dirt but things got pretty rocky a mile or so in. From mile 5.2 to 5.9 (on the gps route uploaded from this trip) there is no trail to speak of. We actually missed the turn initially and had to turn back after going 1/4 of a mile farther north along the trail than we intended. After backtracking to a cairn, it is bushwhacking the rest of the way to the ruins. Leaving the ruins and heading back to the creek involved descending the cliff which was challenging and slippery scrambling for about 200' down. We had to contend with lots of loose rocks so the conditions probably change with each rainy season. The best way down one year may not be so good the next. We found and active hive of bees halfway down and gave them a wide berth. That cliffside is far from an optimal place to have to run from angry bees!

There was a second maintained trail at the base of the cliff and the conditions were more consistent on the return albeit with another two creek crossings.

Navigation
Navigation was straightforward for most of the trail. When crossing the creek we sometimes had to go a bit upstream or downstream to find a better rock hopping point but had little difficulty locating the trail on the opposite side. There was one point (around mile 2.3 if memory serves) where there is a "false" creek crossing. It looks as though you you have to cross to the east side of the creek but in reality you just traverse up the rocks on the western bank. The normal dirt trail becomes visible and continues around the bend.

In middle section of the lasso (where we missed the cairn and had to turn back) there is absolutely no trail to speak of. I consider myself a pretty good pathfinder (I can easily see and follow paths others do not notice) but this one was completely beyond me. The entire stretch from the maintained trail to the ruins was effectively a trackless grassy plateau. There was maybe 30' (in scattered sections) that might have been a hint of a game trail but it was nowhere near enough to navigate by. Getting through this section requires either a GPS (we used Route Scout) or a map and compass. According to the map there was supposed to be some sort of creek bed to follow but aside from some generally spongy ground (more dry and cracked/soft than spongy) we didn't find this to be the case. After attempting in vain to find a trail following the exact GPS route of the guide author, we eventually gave up trying to be precise and headed due west until we reached the cliff and headed north from there. With the right tools the ruins were not hard to find.

Getting from the ruins to the return trail of the lasso loop was less challenging from the navigational perspective. From the cliff side ruins you can see the maintained trail that runs parallel to the cliff easily. Simply go down the cliff and intersecting the maintained trail at its base is inevitable. There was no set trail down the cliff.

General Comments and Musings
The ruins were interesting and I assume "typical" for the region. They were similar in construction and condition to Circlestone Ruins. There appeared to be multiple smaller rectangular dwellings arranged over a fairly small area. There were also a few special gems. A particular stone near the center of the village was apparently used for milling. There was a concave section in the middle that had looked to have been carved out (It may have started out as a Metate) and two hand sized millstones (smoothed and with a grip for the purpose) were sitting on the rock. There was a selection of pottery shards, presumably collected by previous visitors, assembled in the concave section. This was really cool and also indicated exactly how infrequently these ruins are visited (if they were popular the pottery shards and millstones would probably disappeared long ago). There was also a rock on the far side (north) of the village with a few pottery shards on it but I was unable to distinguish a particular purpose for this stone (besides a convenient pottery collection point for an amateur archaeologist)

There were a few spots on the return loop that we did not fully explore. There was a spot on the map that was marked as a mining claim by the creek that was presumably used for prospecting. There was also a side trail further on that was not marked on the map that was faint and looked to be marked with a Petroglyph. We didn't explore this side trail and didn't see much of the Petroglyphs that are reported to be in this area so we might have to make a return visit and hike the route in the reverse direction.

This was a really cool area with a lot of trails and history. We will have to come back soon.

A video of the hike can be found here: [ youtube video ]

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Chalk Canyon Medium flow Medium flow
Water was running and clear. We could rock hop across without getting our feet wet.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Metate Pond 1-25% full 1-25% full
full of algae and flowing slowly

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Shulte Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Didn't venture to the source but the were stagnant pools where the trail crossed the spring. flow was visible but slow
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1 archive
Jan 12 2020
KingLeonidas
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 Guides 7
 Routes 36
 Photos 100
 Triplogs 71

31 male
 Joined Oct 23 2017
 Tempe
Piestewa Peak Summit Trail #300Phoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 12 2020
KingLeonidas
Hiking2.20 Miles 1,180 AEG
Hiking2.20 Miles   1 Hour   25 Mns   1.55 mph
1,180 ft AEG6 LBS Pack
 
no photosets
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Hiked Piestewa Peak Summit trail #300 with my wife. We were having a busy weekend but wanted to get a quick hike in anyway. We had heard that the parking lot expansion was finally finished and figured it would be a good time to check it out.

Logistics/Getting there
When we arrived (at around 10:00 am) the parking lot was completely full and there were cars parked along the sides of the road leading in. The construction was finished but the popularity of the trail (or perhaps the general knowledge that the parking lot was expanded) prompted a lot of people to go hiking. On the plus side there are now enough parking spots and people hiking that you do not have to wait long for someone to leave and open up a spot.

Weather
The temperature was perfect for hiking. it was a little cool at the top but long pants and a T-shirt were adequate.

Trail Conditions
Pretty much business as usual, it was slightly more crowded than usual but more people can now access the trail so that is not surprising.

General Comments and Musings
The new improvements are pretty nice. There is now water and bathrooms at the trailhead as well as a few novelties like pull up bars.This appears to be making the spot even more popular and crowded. Still a good fitness hike in the middle of town though.

As we were finishing our hike we passed a park ranger and several police officers in several groups (the officers did not look very well prepared for the hike). There were also several troopers waiting at the trailhead and ha helicopter arrive and started circling the mountain. Apparently, someone with a warrant out for their arrest was identified hiking on the trail and LEOs arrived in force to make the arrest. Looking at the (lack of) news afterwards it does not appear that the police were successful in apprehending the hiker lol.
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Jan 05 2020
KingLeonidas
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 Guides 7
 Routes 36
 Photos 100
 Triplogs 71

31 male
 Joined Oct 23 2017
 Tempe
Flatiron Hike - SuperstitionsPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 05 2020
KingLeonidas
Hiking5.85 Miles 2,900 AEG
Hiking5.85 Miles   4 Hrs   48 Mns   1.33 mph
2,900 ft AEG      24 Mns Break8 LBS Pack
 
no photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Hiked Siphon Draw trail #53 to Flatiron with my wife and a group of 6 friends. It was our first hike of the new year and we figured we would start the year off on a high note (as well as burn off some of those Christmas cookies).

Logistics/Getting there
The trailhead parking lot was fairly full by the time we got there (around 10:00 am) but there was space enough for the group's 2 cars. The usual weekend fee of $10 per vehicle was in effect. On our previous hike here in November there was construction for the addition of new cabins and the early portions of the trail were detoured away from their normal route. This time the construction was completed and the tail route was back to normal.

Weather
It was a relatively warm day for January. It was cold enough that long pants and short sleeved shirts were not quite enough but putting on long sleeves would have been too much, especially on the way up. Gloves might have been a good idea for keeping hands warm but not cooking oneself, plus they wouldn't hurt for scrambling.

Trail Conditions
There was recent rain and the Siphon had some running water and several sections of trail were damp. It was not muddy enough that trail damage was likely but it was wet enough that the transition from dirt portions of the trail to the slick-rock (especially at The Siphon) was unusually slippery. The Siphon also had a significant amount of loose gravel/sand near the top portion of the slick-rock which made the descent treacherous. On the descent through the upper portion of the Siphon we bypassed much of the slippery section by scrambling down on the south side of the trail where there was better traction.

General Comments and Musings
This hike was organized by a social hiking group whose events we frequently attend. It was the most ambitious hike the group had attempted so far. A couple of the members struggled significantly with the physical challenges of the route. This was somewhat mitigated by wife and I as well as another member of the group who had all hiked the route previously (in some cases very recently) and were familiar with the current trail conditions and route. Being forewarned of challenging spots and how to manage them definitely helped the group moral as a whole.

We enjoyed the hike, the weather was as good as it gets in January and there was even some running water in the Siphon! Those that struggled were more than compensated by the views at the top (and the extra snacks that were passed around). On the way back to Phoenix we stopped for "dunch" at Red White and Brew which hit the spot after ~5 hrs on the trail.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Siphon Draw Waterfall Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
light flow running all the way down the siphon from recent rains
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Oct 29 2019
KingLeonidas
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 Guides 7
 Routes 36
 Photos 100
 Triplogs 71

31 male
 Joined Oct 23 2017
 Tempe
Avatar Mountains to Golden Whip StreamAsia, WW
Asia, WW
Hiking avatar Oct 29 2019
KingLeonidas
Hiking4.50 Miles 2,099 AEG
Hiking4.50 Miles   6 Hrs      0.75 mph
2,099 ft AEG10 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Zhangjiajie is a National Park in the Hunan province of China. It is a UNESCO world heritage site and has recently become very popular because its geography was used to create the setting of the Avatar movies. Zhangjiajie's increase in popularity has made it crowded and touristy. We spent two days in the park with the intent of getting the full experience without spending all our time fighting the crowds. The first of these two days was spent exploring the Avatar Mountains and the Golden Whip Stream.

Logistics/Getting there
The National Park is a fairly long (~45 min to an hour) bus ride from the city of Zhangjiajie. It also takes a couple of days to explore properly. To beat the crowds it is best to stay somewhere closer to the park. We stayed at a hostel just outside the west entrance of the park and were able to easily walk to the entrance each day as soon as the park opened at 7:30 am (which helped beat the crowds). Getting inside the gate is only the first part of the process of getting to the desired trail(s). The park has a free shuttle bus system that can get you from place to place but it is not a continuous system and some sections must be traversed with cable cars (not free) or hiking trails. Depending on your starting point, the route to your destination can vary significantly. From the west entrance of the park, we took the Yangjiajie cable car (65 rmb ~$10) and then the mountain top bus line to the stop at the visitors center or "The First Bridge of the World". It cost 258 rmb (~$36) to enter the park.

Trailhead
The hike started in a crowded touristy area with a plethora of restaurants and shops. There were signs clearly pointing you to the start of the trail.

Navigation
All the paths were clearly marked and paved. For the less populous areas the gps app maps.me was used in offline mode (had reasonably accurate maps of the area)

Weather
We did this hike at the very end of August. The weather a bit hazy, very humid, and hot. It was not unpleasant but lightweight clothes and sunscreen were a must. I am told that later in the fall is the rainy season so spring may be the best time of year to visit this area.

Trail Conditions
Paved with lots of steps, there were occasional sections where the paving was wet and slick so some care was required on these portions.

General Comments and Musings
As you hike along you will come across various landmarks and viewpoints. The natural bridge was festooned with locks and red ribbons that were sold at nearby stands. There was also a Chinese Zodiac display and temple at the end/top of the natural bridge. All these spots were well populated with tourists but it was not too difficult to get out on the viewpoints and take a few pictures. The crowds increased in concentration as the day progressed and as you approached the "Avatar Mountain" a site that was made famous by the first Avatar movie. There was a life size model of an Avatar creature on display that was the focal point of much of the crowd. Further along was a second site spanned by a footbridge which was claimed to be used as the setting for the second movie (no idea how accurate that claim is but they were certainly capitalizing on it). There were a few other pretty locations that were not Avatar themed or influenced which were generally less crowded and nicer. Towards the end of the section there was a koi pond (artificially stocked by tourists) that apparently runs down to the Golden Whip Stream. We would later see an escaped koi with other, clearly native, fish.

This portion of the hike ran west to east parallel to the shuttle bus route. At intervals, there were short paths back to the bus route, which also had shops and such. Once past the Avatar related attractions the majority of the crowds took the bus a short way to the Bailong Elevator. We had had our fill of the crowds at this point and after a quick lunch continued west along the trail taking the more challenging route down.

The trail cleared out almost immediately, in ~1/4 of a mile we went from people everywhere to having the place entirely to ourselves. Ironically, some of the best viewpoints were in this section and they were made more enjoyable by the peace and quiet.

The trail then starts to head south down the mountain and becomes very steep with lots of steps. There were several natural points of interest; a small cave, a waterfall, and several "oxygen bars" i.e. sections of extremely dense jungle that are apparently thick enough to have a naturally higher than normal oxygen concentration. This section was beautiful and secluded. Curiously, there were several spots with derelict food and souvenir stands along the descent. It is possible that this section was once more popular prior to the Avatar related popularity surge.

As we descended, we began to see more wildlife. The park is home to a sizable population of Rhesus monkeys and in this section they seemed to be wilder and kept some distance away. Once we reached the Golden Whip Stream trailhead the number of monkeys increased significantly and they were less wild i.e. they would come very close. Despite the regular signs warning not to feed the monkeys (in several languages and pictograms) a good number of tourists apparently ignore this rule and suffer the consequences. The monkeys are very aggressive when offered food and had no objection to scratching or biting to get it. On our hike along the stream, we ran into a traumatized tourist that had offered a monkey a snack and lost her entire lunch as a result. We offered her some snacks (there were no monkeys in sight at the time) and then resolved to leave every edible thing safely zippered up in our packs whenever there were monkeys about.

After the descent the trail intersected with the path following the Golden Whip Stream which we followed downstream. The scenery here was excellent with the sound of water adding to the serenity of the jungle and mountains towering overhead. There were occasional bridges over the creek and as we approached the beginning of the trail there were some entertaining obstacle courses running along the path (most of the group was too tired to partake this late in the day). As we approached the beginning of the Golden Whip Stream trail, the population of people and monkeys began to increase noticeably.

After reaching the trailhead we took the mountain bottom bus line west to a short but steep uphill walking section and then the bus again to the west entrance of the park where we started our day.

This was an excellent hike. We were able to see the popular places when they were less crowded get off the beaten path during the parts of the day when the crowds would be the worst. The strategy of deliberately taking a path contradictory to the typical tour guide's recommendation paid off. There were several areas that we did not explore due to time constrains and the capabilities of the group as a whole. The Huangshi Village area we passed by and is probably worth visiting (though it is almost certainly another crowded spot). I also would have liked to hike up (or down) the trail that follows the path of the cable car in. This would have certainly been a challenging hike and probably would have taken up a large portion of the day but the views would probably have been worth it. Oh well there is always next time...

Link to Trail Video: [ youtube video ]
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light
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3 archives
Oct 12 2019
KingLeonidas
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 Guides 7
 Routes 36
 Photos 100
 Triplogs 71

31 male
 Joined Oct 23 2017
 Tempe
West Fork Oak Creek Trail #108Sedona, AZ
Sedona, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 12 2019
KingLeonidas
Hiking7.42 Miles 850 AEG
Hiking7.42 Miles   2 Hrs   47 Mns   2.70 mph
850 ft AEG      2 Mns Break10 LBS Pack
 
no photosets
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Route Scout GPS Route Recorded on Route Scout View
Hiked West Fork of Oak Creek with my wife and mother in law.

Trailhead
As usual there was a line of cars waiting to get into the parking lot. We parked on the side of the street in an area that did not have “no parking” signs rather than wait in line and waste valuable daylight. They still charge $2 a person for walk-ins and $11 per car (if you are able to find a place to park in the lot).

Navigation
Navigation is not difficult. It is a canyon hike so it is impossible to take a wrong turn and get lost. That said there are a couple parallel paths in places so it is possible to choose the “wrong” path and pick up an extra creek crossing or two. We did exactly that and took a less direct route that crossed the creek two extra times unnecessarily on the way in. We took the “correct” route out. The sign at the start of the hike indicates that there are 13 creek crossings until the end of the maintained trail. We found this to be a fairly accurate measure of progress (as long as you didn’t cross unnecessarily and realized that the last crossing is somewhat separated into two different spots).

Weather
We did this hike in early October in the late afternoon. It was cool but not cold, and the exertion of the hike kept us warm. Jackets would have been a good idea otherwise. We managed to avoid getting our feet for the most part, If you did get really wet it probably would have made the rest of the hike pretty uncomfortable.

Trail Conditions
The path was clear and fairly wide. There were not a lot of rocks but much of the way had sand at a moderate depth. This made for smooth walking but was more tiring than the typical well-compacted trail surface. It also filled your shoes up with sand if you did not adjust your gait for the conditions.
The creek crossings consisted of some rock hopping and some balancing on downed tree trunks. The trees were all smaller and generally lying in the water so you didn’t need to put on a high-wire act to keep your feet dry. We managed all the crossings (there and back) with only one person (my mother in law) getting their feet slightly wet at one crossing.

General Comments and Musings
I had done this trail before and knew what to expect but had just as much fun as the last time I hiked the trail. This trail is almost as much fun to hike as it is to backpack.

We were pretty late starting out (due to traffic on the way to and in Sedona) and did not bring flashlights or headlamps with us. As we moved along I started noting the time remaining before sunset and decided ~3/4 of the way in that we would just barely get back to the trailhead in time and could try for the whole thing. We did indeed finish right at sunset but were not the last group out. On the return hike we passed at least 6 separate groups heading back to the trailhead. A few were pretty hot on our heels and probably made it out before it got dark but at least a couple definitely did not. I doubt that some of them had headlamps and probably had to resort to cell phone lights to get out. I will have to make it a point to throw an emergency headlamp in my daypack even when I don’t plan to be out after dark from now on.
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Isolated
Leaves on some trees were just starting to turn

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max West Fork Oak Creek Light flow Light flow
Water flowing throughout. All crossings could be easily crossed without getting feet wet
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Oct 06 2019
KingLeonidas
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 Guides 7
 Routes 36
 Photos 100
 Triplogs 71

31 male
 Joined Oct 23 2017
 Tempe
Bell Trail to the Crack - Wet Beaver CreekCamp Verde, AZ
Camp Verde, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 06 2019
KingLeonidas
Hiking8.44 Miles 1,731 AEG
Hiking8.44 Miles   3 Hrs   58 Mns   2.13 mph
1,731 ft AEG10 LBS Pack
 
no photosets
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Hiked Bell trail to the Crack at Wet Beaver Creek with a large group of family members the day after our wedding reception.

Logistics/Getting there
As expected for the day after a wedding reception, hangovers were ubiquitous and it took a while to get everyone up and heading north to Camp Verde. Of an original party size of 22 only two people tapped out which was pretty impressive given how wild the party the night before was. After our rendezvous at the Subway in Camp Verde to collect all the late arrivals and get sandwiches for lunch at the Crack we headed to the trail.

Trailhead
We went directly to the overflow parking lot in anticipation of the usual crowd and found the place completely empty. This was surprising as this spot is typically crowded in any kind of swimming weather.

Navigation
Navigation should not have been difficult. My wife and I had done the trial several times before and there is signage at all the trail junctions making the route is easy to follow. That said, on the way back almost the entire group missed the left turn going back to the overflow lot and ended up at the main lot instead. After being confused for a bit they eventually called me (I was back at the overflow lot with the stragglers at that point) asking where to go. They had to backtrack to get back where we started and endure some good-natured ribbing for having missed the obvious turn.

Weather
The trail is very exposed so it was hot on the hike in. The heat was a bit much for one of the participants and our rate slowed to a crawl. This turned into something of a problem because we had planned to spend some time at The Crack to do some cliff jumping, swimming, and eat lunch. Eventually I split the group into two parts; the faster group went ahead with my wife and I stayed behind with the straggler.

Trail Conditions
The trail was a mixture of hard packed dirt with some rocky sections. The rocky parts were a bit challenging for the older participants and the section that is steep on one side was a bit much for an acrophobic participant. This was the first time I had someone complain about the heights on this trail but they were also struggling with the heat so it might have been the combination of challenges that was causing difficulties.

General Comments and Musings
Once we got to the crack morale for the group as a whole improved greatly. The out of towners were impressed with the views on the way in and even took part in some cliff jumping and swimming despite the cold water. The sketchy log running from the low cliff to the high cliff was still there and none of use used it (although some other locals did). The water was pretty deep but we limited ourselves to the lower cliff.

The flash flooding that went through West Clear Creek seems to have gone through this area as well. The area upstream used to have fairly thick tree cover but every single tree had been flattened and the upstream topography was significantly changed.
We were able to find a good spot upstream to gather and sterilize water with a Steripen. A few local kids did not bring enough water so we topped them off as well.

After a bit I started recommending that slower members of the party start heading back (ahead of the main group) so that they would make it back to the parking lot before sunset. The stragglers accepted this with good grace and my wife and I brought up the rear on the way back with the fastest hikers.

Due to our late start and slower/longer than normal hike in, we stayed at The Crack later than normal and our hike back was something of a race against the sun. We caught up with the slowest members of the party about halfway back and I stayed at the back of the pack while the remainder left us behind. Ironically we made it to the cars before they did because they missed the turn to the overflow lot so it was something of a “tortoise and the hare” outcome. We ended up kicking our feet up and watching the sunset while they backtracked to the cars.

It was a great trip; even the participants that were completely wiped out at the end had a good time. A few cousins were so impressed with the desert scenery that they are now determined to come back and do another trip to Arizona (possibly to the Grand Canyon). So we will see if this adventure spawns a few more family backpacking trips...
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Oct 02 2019
KingLeonidas
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 Guides 7
 Routes 36
 Photos 100
 Triplogs 71

31 male
 Joined Oct 23 2017
 Tempe
Hayden Butte Summit (HBP)Phoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 02 2019
KingLeonidas
Hiking0.78 Miles 770 AEG
Hiking0.78 Miles      48 Mns   1.56 mph
770 ft AEG      18 Mns Break10 LBS Pack
 
no photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Route Scout GPS Route Recorded on Route Scout View
Hiked “A” Mountain with my wife and mother in law. We went to show her mom a prime example of an Arizona sunset and to serve as a warm up for the post reception hike to The Crack at wet beaver creek that was planned for a few days later.

The trail and summit were not too crowded; there was probably a dozen people all told at the summit to watch the sunset and she was able to get pictures without passers-by being in the background.

The steepness of the trail was good training and we got dinner on Mill after our hike.
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Oct 01 2019
KingLeonidas
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 Guides 7
 Routes 36
 Photos 100
 Triplogs 71

31 male
 Joined Oct 23 2017
 Tempe
Hidden Valley via Mormon TrailPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 01 2019
KingLeonidas
Hiking4.37 Miles 1,006 AEG
Hiking4.37 Miles   2 Hrs   20 Mns   1.90 mph
1,006 ft AEG      2 Mns Break
 
no photosets
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Hiked the Hidden Valley Loop via Mormon Trail with my wife and mother in law. Victoria and I have hiked this trail many times but her mom had never been to Phoenix before so we hiked this trail to give her a view of the city. We also wanted to make sure she would be able to do the post reception hike to The Crack at wet beaver creek that was planned for a week later so there was a training element to the hike as well.

We made decent time on the way up. The pace picked up after breaking out the headlamps which made people more sure footed.

Victoria’s Mom enjoyed the view of Phoenix from the top (near sunset) and after going through the Hidden Valley (by which time it was full dark and we could see the city lights). The Hidden Valley was also entertaining with Fat Man’s Pass and the Hidden Valley Tunnel providing photo opportunities and some adventurous hiking by moonlight.

It was a good hike and we all went out to dinner afterwards.
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Sep 29 2019
KingLeonidas
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 Guides 7
 Routes 36
 Photos 100
 Triplogs 71

31 male
 Joined Oct 23 2017
 Tempe
Piestewa Peak Summit Trail #300Phoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Sep 29 2019
KingLeonidas
Hiking2.35 Miles 1,224 AEG
Hiking2.35 Miles   1 Hour   40 Mns   1.76 mph
1,224 ft AEG      20 Mns Break6 LBS Pack
 
no photosets
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Hiked Piestewa Peak with my wife and a group of friends. This was the first of the “Saturday Morning Hikes” that this group does weekly (when the weather is nice) for the fall hiking season.

The weather was nice and only slightly hot. The ocotillo was all green and lively from the late monsoon season rain and much of the desert was greener than normal.

The group did well considering that most of them had not hiked in months and it was good to catch up with everybody. It was a good fitness hike as usual.
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Sep 14 2019
KingLeonidas
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 Guides 7
 Routes 36
 Photos 100
 Triplogs 71

31 male
 Joined Oct 23 2017
 Tempe
Tom's Thumb Trail - MSPPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Sep 14 2019
KingLeonidas
Hiking4.42 Miles 1,486 AEG
Hiking4.42 Miles   1 Hour   53 Mns   2.60 mph
1,486 ft AEG      11 Mns Break6 LBS Pack
 
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Route Scout GPS Route Recorded on Route Scout View
Hiked Tom’s Thumb with my wife as a fitness hike.

The weather was nice and the trail was not crowded.

I took the detour to Miner’s Cave but there still was not much to see there (since all the mining paraphernalia was cleared out)

We were a bit late in the day so we did not do much exploring around the Thumb.

It was a good hike.
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average hiking speed 1.98 mph
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