|Thunderbird Parks East and West, AZ|| |
Thunderbird Parks East and West, AZ
|Hiking||8.54 Miles|| 3 Hrs 3 Mns ||2.86 mph|
|1,374 ft AEG|| 4 Mns Break|
|I don't know how I got this report so long, sorry. Continuing to finish off some Areas on the HAZ list... I realized on the drive today that I have SEVEN Preserves or Parks within 20 minutes of my house, almost 9 if you go up to thirty minutes. That's pretty awesome for living in a big city.|
The temps would be pleasant this afternoon for my route that would hook up the 4 trails that were on the "to-do" list to complete the Thunderbird Conservation Park area. One of the trails was the splinter trail at the top of Thunderbird Conservation Peak, two would be near Sunrise Peak on the west side and the last one would be at the base of the Arrowhead Point hike.
I decided to park at the W. Pinnacle Peak Rd and 55th Ave and started the hike on the Cholla Loop Trail counterclockwise. All of these trails are a bit rocky and in addition, they have laid a lot of rocks to control the erosion; rolly poly rocks. I much prefer the rocks on the other preserves I hike. The grade, however, is pleasant as you slowly make your way toward the top. I would encounter a few more hikers than I thought I would for Sunday afternoon. Not too far from the top is the splinter trail. I really didn't even know it was there except for the HAZ areas trail list.
The H-3a Trail diverts you east on a ridgeline until you can't go any further. The views were clear, I could see all the way to the Mazzies and Superstitions as well so I got the camera out to do some zooming. I then headed west to Thunderbird Conservation Park Peak, still a nice but rocky grade. Views seemed clear to the west and now it was time to hike this very long ridgeline trail that comes in and out of view, thus it's much longer than it appears. I continued to encounter hikers of all varieties. (I think coming up from the west is harder.) They have laid a bunch of new rock on the part of the trail that goes down the west side and on several more parts of the Cholla Loop Trail.
At the middle parking section between the east and west side of Thunderbird Park, I should have swung to the south and west but I headed just west below the amphitheatre and picked up the Sunrise Trail H-4a from there. Lots of people of all shapes and sizes and ages along with two novice bike riders were on this short stretch. At the saddle I opted to take the trail north around the water tank and then west to hook up with the Coachwhip Trail.
The Coachwhip semi-circles Sunrise Peak. I used it as a connector trail and hiked it south and then east. It's very nice, wide and smooth going in this area so I could pick up my speed a little. As you head east, in about a third of a mile you reach the junction with the Ridgeline Trail H-4b that takes you up to a "ridgeline". It too, has some fresh rock on it to negotiate. It does afford some nice views though. You hike the ridgeline east until you meet up with the junction of the Sunrise Trail. I hadn't planned on doing the Peak but since I was so close, and this time I had time, I headed on up.
This part of the Sunrise Trail to the peak is pretty busy too with hikers of all sizes, shapes and ages. The peak also has nice views and it was a good day for it. I didn't stay long but to take a couple pictures. From here it was back down and to the east side of the Park. This time I stayed above the amphitheatre and hooked back up with the junction of Coachwhip Loop (which starts at the far west parking lot and stays on the southside and crosses over). Essentially you just walk down the old road to the gate and then try to figure out where the Coachwhip Trail is again. You kind of stay to the south of the picnic area and then you'll see the rock-lined trail.
I continued east on the Coachwhip Trail next to and above Pinnacle Peak Road which is so NOISY. After crossing Pinnacle Peak Road I contined on the Coachwhip Trail until the junction with the Flatlander Trail (H-1a), gotta love that name. It takes you about 1/2 mile to the edge of the 500 Club with nice scenery looking up the side of this mountain covered with basalt.
As I made the turn I spotted some hot air balloons so I had to grab a few pictures. As I got further to the east I could see some burned trees so there must have been a fire through here at one time (July 2020). It was stark contrast with the greenery of the 500 Club. As I headed back west, I could see the hot air balloons again above the Arizona Temple; a pretty sight.
If you like to see people for most of your hike, Thunderbird Conservation Par is the area for that. I do hope these people get a chance to hike some of the nicer tread trails of the valley. I saw so many little ones and dogs too. I enjoyed my Huck Lager before heading home.
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WATCH: 8.07 miles (high point 1880, low 1368) avg bpm 136, max 162 (19% Zone 4, 35% Zone 3, 44% Zone 2) burning 1299 calories. Starting temp 71.5 and 13% humid (altho it seemed more humid than that) finishing at 4:53PM.
|For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination. |
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.