My folks took me on the Maricopa trail over by Lake Pleasant last year, and it was a bust – one of the most boring and lame trails every. It followed power lines, was noisy, and wasn’t that pretty. This past weekend when my dad said we were hiking the Maricopa trail, I wasn’t thrilled, but he assured me it was a different section of it.
You see, the Maricopa Trail is 315 miles of trails in Maricopa County, Arizona, connecting major regional and municipal parks together in the Phoenix area. Whoa. I’m not good at math, but 315 seems like a long way, and I certainly hoped we wouldn’t be going that far today. I trusted that mom wouldn’t want to go all that way either, so off we went.
We took Carefree Highway east to 7th Street (not Avenue where there is a trail head) and took a left or north toward New River. The name of street actually changed from 7th Street to New River in about 3 miles, and by mile 4, we saw the Andy Kunsek trailhead parking lot. Immediately we saw something we had never seen before: tons of emergency vehicles. A man stopped us and said the parking lot was closed. Apparently two quads crashed, and they were injured pretty badly. Daisy Mountain Rescue was on the scene.
We backed out and parked along the road. Normally, you would park in the lot for free, but if it was full, you can do what we did. It doesn’t have a human restroom – plan accordingly. There is a map there that shows how the trail can take you either east toward Anthem or west toward Cave Creek. My dad read that the trail toward Anthem has a lot of road noise, we went west. This trail does not connect to the Cave Creek Regional Park, but it will eventually take you to the Spur Cross Ranch.
Like many of our great local trails, you can go as long or short as you like. Dad set his watch, and we would hike one hour out. The trail was busy but not packed. We kept hearing the rescue helicopter overhead. It took them several attempts to get the guys out, and we wish them well.
The trail is moderate with ups and downs. Some areas are rocky while others aren’t too bad. We enjoyed the last of the wildflowers. Man, what a season it has been. Summer is around the corner and the temperatures will be rising.
For today, we were grateful for relatively cool weather. The trail goes along a ridge that gives great views of New River. You’ll see some homesteads along the base of the mountains across the way and keep climbing up. At the hour mark, we found ourselves at the base of Apache Mountain with a beautiful plateau full of flowers. You will know you have arrived at the big open area with views or when you have gone about 1.3 miles.
Mountain bikers are also allowed on this narrow trail – pay attention. Too many of them have no regard for hikers even though they are supposed to yield for us. By the way bikers, when we make an effort to go over to the side so you can scream by, at least say thank you! Personally, I think this trail would be difficult on a bike.
Anyway, after a nice long drink of water, we turned around. Again, you could keep going forever if you wanted. On our return, a lady warned us that a rattlesnake was on the trail closer to the parking lot. My ears perked up, and I would keep my nose to the ground. It is that time of year, and humans are already getting bit. It is so important to have your dog snake trained to keep everyone safe.
Thankfully we didn’t see nor did I smell any snake on our way back. He must have moved along, and that is fine with me. We said hello to the rescue crew, and they were just getting the second man helicoptered to the hospital. A great reminder for us all to put safety first. Always have plenty of water and don’t do activities beyond your ability. If you are biking or riding your quad, please wear a helmet. Dogs can get overheated quickly when the temperatures rise, so get out early as the hot season approaches. This was another great local find!
My mom, Lorraine Bossé-Smith is kind enough to help me share my Great Adventures, big and small. My mom is a motivational speaker, corporate trainer, business consultant, executive coach, behavioral-wellness expert, and author of nine published books. More importantly, she’s the best doggy mom ever!
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Get outside! You never know what you’ll discover, and our paths just might cross. Happy tails!