Arizona is a hiker’s paradise, with beautiful trails of all sorts of difficulties. But with places like the Grand Canyon, or Sedona it might go without notice that there are actually quite awesome trails to hike right in and around Phoenix. Or maybe I’m just a loser that didn’t notice it.
One of the trails I got to explore is the Mormon Trail which then connects to the Hidden Valley trail located in the South Mountains. The trail begins on 8610 S. 24th St. at Mormon Trail head and all together comes to roughly 3.5 miles one way.
There’s a parking lot right near the entrance but since it was full, plenty of hikers parked down E Euclid Ave. (We didn’t get towed so I guess it’s legal as long as you don’t park next to the ‘No Parking’ signs.)
South Mountain is the largest city park IN THE WORLD
The trail is ranked as moderate so be prepared for a bit of a workout. But don’t let that intimidate you, I saw plenty of people who were hiking with little children, dogs and several people zoomed by us on bike. I still wonder how in the world they got up there on bikes but, kudos to them!
The Mormon trail begins with quite a bit of a rocky climb up, which means the way back is down hill (thank the Lord) and reveals a view of the city. You want to head south and take a left onto the National Trail, which then connects to the Hidden Valley trail.
No worries, you don’t have to memorize that, there’s signs along the way and you can use the nifty AllTrails app which not only gives you more details on the trail itself, but shows you the way. Otherwise I’d probably get lost and die next to a cactus somewhere because it’s actually quite easy to walk off trail and wonder off into the unknown.
Once you hit the Hidden Valley trail is where it gets really neat! The trail runs deeper into the mountain, away from the city and is much more secluded with some neat tunnels, paths and plenty of photo opportunities.
Towards the end you reach the Fat Mans pass, which ironically is a path for everyone but a fat man. It’s a narrow crack between two giant boulders, with very little maneuvering room. But worry not, if you’re clostraphobic or “too tall” as my dad excused himself (as if that’s the problem) there is a second way around for normal sized people. Then you loop around and eventually end up coming back the same way you came.
All together it took us roughly 3 hours to complete this trail and that’s including several stops to drink water, snack and catch my breath. (The last one more so than the first two.) Naturally, I also took frequent stops to snap some photos.
We did come across plenty flat and slippery boulders to climb up which is where hiking shoes would have come in handy. I settled for my adidas sneakers and did end up scrambling up on my hands and knees on a couple occasions.
We hiked in late December which means the temperature was in the mid 50s – 60s but I honestly can’t imagine trying to hike that in the summer time. Not only would I pass out from heat exhaustion, I imagine there would be A LOT more desert residents poking around. This time around we only saw this little guy and I’d prefer to keep it that way.
It was a quite tiring hike but very fun and satisfying and proved to be a great warm-up for the following hike waiting for us the next day!
I'm Sandra, creator of Whispers of Adventure.
I'm a crazy dreamer with a love for adventure and new experiences. With my passion for writing and capturing the moment with a lens, I hope to inspire you for your next adventure!