RSVPs open 6:00am on 12/20/2012 and close at 6:00pm on 1/18/2013
7:30 am is the carpool time from Fry’s at Hayden & Thompson Peak; 8:30 am is the start time from the trailhead
This is an easy to moderate hike, except for the strenuous first mile on the Alta Trail. The Alta Trail in South Mountain is 4.3 miles long with a steep up and a steep down. Alta offers excellent views of downtown Phoenix, north and west, as well as much of the 17,000 acre South Mountain Park. The hike starts from the San Juan Lookout at the west end of South Mountain.
After leaving the trailhead, the hike quickly climbs more than 1000’ in about a mile. Then the trail becomes fairly level as we follow the north face of the ridgeline. After about 4 miles, we hike down a steep slope to the Bajada trail. Here the trail is gently rolling in and out of several washes. After 1.8 miles on the Bajada, we join the National Trail, which we follow for another 1.8 miles back to the trailhead at the San Juan Lookout.
The City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation sponsors the National Trail Trek, taking place in 2013 on January 26. The hike is 15.5 miles long and runs from the easternmost edge of the mountain traversing the South Mountains all the way to San Juan Lookout. The Trek requires preregistration and fills quickly. The signup usually begins the preceding October. The cost is $50, and includes food, water, round-trip transportation, prizes and surprises.
Rating: First mile Strenuous, then Easy-Moderate
Trail type: Maintained
Estimated hiking time: 3-4 hours
Total distance: 7.6 miles
Elevation: 1300’ lowest, highest 2400’
What to bring: Plenty of water and/or sports drink, snacks or lunch, clothing suitable for the weather.
Carpool location: Fry’s patio at the southeast corner of Hayden and Thompson Peak in Scottsdale. We will leave at 7:35 am. It is a 40-45 minute drive to the trailhead. Plan on a $4 contribution to the driver.
Directions to the trailhead: From Fry’s, head to AZ-101 and go west 3.9 miles to AZ-51, then south on AZ-51 for 15.4 miles to I-10 East. After 1.8 miles, at Exit 150, merge onto I-17 N/US-60W (toward Flagstaff). Take Exit 195B after 1.5 miles and look for Central Ave. Follow Central Ave into South Mountain Park, then follow the signs to San Juan Lookout.