Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Phoenix, Arizona - MLK Weekend - Biking and Hiking

After a week of frigid temperatures in Salt Lake City, it was time to return to Phoenix for more biking adventures with Roger.  The New Year holiday was cool and wet, but we had a fantastic time mountain biking and hiking in several of the regional parks surrounding Phoenix.  We had hoped to do some road biking for MLK weekend, but as so often happens with my trips to Arizona, another cold, wet storm was in the the forecast.  Despite the gloomy weather, I rented a mountain bike on Friday and we headed to the  Brown's Ranch Trailhead in McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

Biking from Brown's Ranch Trailhead in McDowell Sonoran Preserve

The mountain biking trails at McDowell Sonoran Preserve are incredibly fun to ride.  Few trails require any technical skill, and most are smooth, fast, and flowy.  The trails are very well marked, and each trail junction has a ID post to indicate your position on the map.  You don't need a route plan or advanced map skills to figure out where you are and where you want to go.  The desert scenery is great along all of the trails, so it's difficult to make any specific trail recommendations. We rode for several hours, from Brown's Ranch  to the Granite Mountain area, and managed to cover the majority of the trails in the network by mid afternoon.  The sun never came out, but we had a great day of biking.

Brown's Mountain
Biking down from Brown's Mountain

Biking at McDowell Sonoran Preserve
Taking a break on Hawknest Trail

Between the rain showers on Saturday, we managed to hike Camelback Mountain from the Echo Canyon Trailhead.  It was a popular trail with a lot of people, but it certainly wasn't easy.  Several sections of the trail required the use of hands to climb, and a few spots had railings to assist with the climbing.  Despite the steepness, the trail was short, and before long, we were standing on top of the camel.  Camelback Mountain is a prominent feature in the Valley of the Sun, and I remember being fascinated by it when I first visited Phoenix as a kid.  It was fun to finally hike to the top!

Climbing up Camelback Mountain from Echo Canyon
Climbing up Camelback Mountain
Rainbow from the top of Camelback Mountain
Top of Camelback Mountain
A brief break of sun and blue sky on Camelback Mountain

On Sunday, despite the rain, we headed to Cave Creek Regional Park for a hike.  Like all of the regional parks in the Phoenix area, Cave Creek had a spacious campground, a visitor center, and numerous hiking and biking trails.  We decided to hike the Go John trail, a 5.8 mile loop through the northern part of the park.  The desert scenery was beautiful, despite the low clouds and occasional showers.  We had most of the trail to ourselves as very few people were out hiking or biking.

Low clouds hanging over Cave Creek Regional Park
Ocotillo leafing out

Hiking at Cave Creek Regional Park
Cave Creek Regional Park