Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Critter Prints on the Maricopa Trail

Look what we spotted while trekking the Maricopa Trail near Lake Pleasant---racoon footprints! Keep alert and you might also spot the tracks of coyotes, bobcats, skunks and myriad critters that live along the route.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Maricopa Trail in San Tan Regional Park

San Tan Mountain Regional Park, Queen Creek
On the far Southeastern edge of the Valley, the Maricopa Trail makes a loopy pass through San Tan Mountain Regional Park. With its rollercoaster-like terrain and big sky views, the park’s trail system incorporates difficult mountain climbs and easy strolls among the cacti and ironwood trees that line sandy washes. The Maricopa Trail shares roughly 10 miles of paths within the park that can be accessed from both the Nature Center or the Goldmine trailhead.  
Plenty of directional signage and downloadable maps aid in customizing a loop hike to suit your needs. Whether you’re looking for a quick outing with kids or a challenging all-day trek, the Maricopa Trail makes for a solid baseline route with numerous connecting paths.  Head out on your own or join in one of the ranger-led outings that focus on desert habitats, stargazing and heritage sites along the trail.  Here’s one scenic loop to try.
From the main trailhead, begin on Moonlight Trail (ML), hike 1.2 miles to the San Tan Trail (SA).  Turn left (south and hike 1.5 miles to the Hedgehog Trail (HG).  Turn left (north) and continue 1 mile to SA, turn left and go 0.3 mile to Stargazer Trail.  Turn left hike 0.8 mile to ML, turn right and hike 0.7 mile back to the trailhead.
LENGTH:  5.5-mile loop
RATING:  moderate
ELEVATION:  1400'-1600'
FEE: $6 daily fee per vehicle
PARK HOURS: Sunday- Thursday: 6 a.m. - 8 p.m. , Friday-Saturday: 6 a.m. - 10 p.m.
PETS: leashed pets allowed
FACILITIES: restrooms, water, visitor center, wildlife exhibit, tortoise habitat, ranger-led activities
From Phoenix, travel east on US 60 to Ellsworth Road exit 191.  Follow  Ellsworth 13.6 miles south (Ellsworth turns into Hunt Highway at about the 12 mile point) to  Thompson Road (traffic light), turn right (south)  and go 2.1 miles to Phillips Road. Turn right and continue 1 mile to the park entrance.
INFO: Maricopa County Parks & Recreation: San Tan Mountain Regional Park.
6533 W. Phillips Rd., Queen Creek 85142