I just love when my dad has some extra time off for the holidays! We were able to get two hikes in over the holiday weekend. The first was on Christmas Eve day, and it helped pass the time until Santa Paws came. With the weather being nice and cool, we were able to hike locally and chose The Desert Vista trailhead over by the Norterra housing development at 1900 Desert Vista Trail. Off the North Valley Parkway right near the CVS, turn onto W. Casino Drive and turn right at the round-about. This takes you straight into the parking lot, which they redid with lots of parking options and great human restrooms. Parking is free and dogs are most welcome!
Our favorite hike is a 3 ½-mile loop with a butt-kicking start! The Hawk’s Nest Trail is the only way to start any hike from the parking lot, and it goes straight up hill. It is also very rocky so be sure to have good, sturdy hiking shoes. Some folks might want hiking poles. We continue straight and go slightly left to stay on the HNT, which takes you up further. Then, you hang a right onto the Dixie Mountain Loop and keep taking rights for the loop (first onto Valle Vista and then onto Desert Tortoise Trail) until you come back to the HNT and turn left to head back to the parking lot.
After the initial hill, it stabilizes. You will still climb up a bit, but it is mild and less rocky. When you turn onto the Valle Vista trail, you will head down to the desert floor where a bunch of Cholla live. They are beautiful, especially when the sun bounces off of them, but they are mean suckers! Once jumped up and bit me! It stuck into my paw, and mom had a difficult time getting it out. She always carries plyers for this very reason, but I’m a bad patient. I hate my paws being touched, even though she is trying to help me. Ugh.
Anyway, we had the trail basically to ourselves, and it was super quiet. The cloud cover made it feel like Christmas was near, and it was! We looped back to the car and had a nice lunch at home. Mom and dad went to Christmas Eve service, and we looked at Christmas lights that night.
Santa Paws did come, and I got a wonderful new doggy bed, toy and lots of treats. All the excitement warranted a good nap! After a day of rest, we went for another hike and chose Apache Wash, another local favorite. Apache Wash is located at 1600 E. Sonoran Desert Drive in Phoenix. Again, there is tons of parking and human restrooms. It is free, and dogs are welcome here, too.
We weren’t the only ones who had the idea to get outside and work off that Christmas dinner. Wholly smokes! It was packed with humans, dogs and bicycles. This was the busiest we have seen the trail head since, well, ever! Thankfully, we all spread out a bit and still had some distance and fresh air of our own.
We do a 3 ½-mile loop here as well, but this one is mild and goes around the mountain with just a short section to the vista. From the human restrooms, take the trail that goes straight (you have options to go left, right or straight) or Sidewinder Trail. Follow this up to the Vista Trail and take a left. This is an out and back that brings you up to the top of the hill for great 360-degree views. I am always amazed at how far north we are as I look down upon the Phoenix valley.
Follow the Vista Trail back down, and go left to continue your loop on the Sidewinder Trail. When you get to the big Saguaro, you take a left and follow to another left, which is the Ocotillo Trail, and that takes you back to the parking lot. If you skip the vista, then it is only three miles.
Today was a little warmer, so I needed some additional water breaks. Dad always carries a Camelback full of water for me. What a guy! Anyway, we had to have worked off a few holiday calories. Mom says it is time to pay the Piper. I’ve never met him, but we’re looking for him should you find him. I guess we owe him some money.
The loop takes about an hour, and before I knew it, we were back home enjoying a picnic in our own yard. You gotta love winter in Phoenix! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and got some tasty bones or whatever was on your list. Here’s to a healthy new year full of grand adventures!
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, executive recruiter, business consultant, coach, fitness 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!