Monday, October 16, 2017

100 Miles in 100 Days Challenge

Get Your 100 Miles on the Maricopa Trail
If you’re having trouble getting motivated to hike more, here’s your opportunity. The 2018 edition of the 100 Miles in 100 Days Challenge kicks off in November. The Maricopa County Parks program encourages hikers, bikers and horseback riders to log 100 trail miles between November 1, 2017 and February 8, 2018.  Everything you need to participate and track your progress is available on the parks website (link below). The program is a great way to hit your stride, gain experience and get to know our the more than 420 miles of trails within our 10 regional parks. One of the rules is that participants must visit at least 3 parks, and the Maricopa Trail counts as a “park”.  So, dust off those boots, ditch the excuses and hit the trail. You’re sure to meet new friends, achieve your personal goals and gain a higher appreciation for our beautiful desert trails.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Plant Profile

Of the hundreds of wildflower species that grow along the Maricopa Trail, Desert Lavender (Hyptis emoryi) perfumes the landscape with tiny violet flower clusters that attract pollinators. The native plant is found throughout the Sonoran Desert, favoring rocky outcroppings, washes and bajadas. The perennial shrub has woolly, gray-green, mint-scented leaves and can grow to 15 feet in height where water is plentiful but average 6-8 feet.
BLOOMS: Spring - Fall
ELEVATION RANGE: up to 3000 feet
PHOTO: Maricopa Trail near Lake Pleasant

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

MARICOPA TRAIL : Anthem-Lake Pleasant

Anthem-Lake Pleasant
An easy-to-access way to sample the northern section of the Valley-circumnavigating Maricopa Trail begins at the Agua Fria trailhead near Lake Pleasant. This easy segment runs through open desert and washes with terrific water-themed views. The route roughly parallels Carefree Highway for 9.3 miles then turns north to share dirt with the Black Canyon Trail.
Near Deadman Wash, the trail heads east, passing under Interstate 17 to connect with the Anthem community.  Near the lake, the path scoots around and above the Beardsley and Waddell canals, Camp Dryer Diversion Dam and the massive wall of Carl Pleasant Dam.
The route can be a bit confusing at the beginning.  To stay on track, go east (right) on the dirt path for 0.1 mile to where it comes out on the access road. 
From here, continue hiking on the road, cross the canal bridge and look for a Maricopa Trail sign on the right where the road curves to the north at 0.2 mile from the trailhead. From this point on, the route is marked with signs and cairns where it gets sketchy in washes.  In addition to the reservoir features, the trail also passes through an ironwood-lined gully, and crosses a flat plain of creosote and cholla before encountering a RV park near 87th Avenue. 
As the trail moves east, the sound of gunfire from Ben Avery Shooting Range heralds the approach to Interstate 17 and a traipse into the Anthem where you can continue to Cave Creek Regional Park and Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area.
LENGTH: 16.2 miles one way to Anthem
Option: 2.7 miles to 87th Ave
Option: 3.7 to New River Road
Option: 9.3 miles to Black Canyon Trail
Option: 11.5 to I-17
RATING: easy
ELEVATION: 1100' - 1737'
From Phoenix travel north on Interstate 17 to Carefree Highway/State Route 74 exit 223. Drive 9 miles west (toward Wickenburg) to Beardsley CSR, turn right, go 0.1 mile and make a U-turn to the trailhead parking area.