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and the Moms Who Live Here

9 East Valley Family Friendly Hiking Trails

Are you tired of being cooped up in the house?

Times have changed y’all. 

Rather than going to the movies, Top Golf, Dave and Buster, the pool, or out to eat, we’re going on walks, playing board games, binge watching Netflix, and eating too much junk food. 

Luckily, most trails are still open and the weather is still nice in the morning! I know I personally feel my best when I am outside in nature, and even my daughter Chloe enjoys exploring the great outdoors with me. In fact, it’s probably our favorite thing to do together. No phones. No electronics. Zero distractions. Just true quality mother-daughter bonding. So, now is the perfect time to share some of our favorite hiking spots with all of you! Remember to practice social distancing while hiking and keep your distance from others on the trail. 

  1. Spook Mountain is a short trail located in East Mesa, just east of the Red Mountain 202 Freeway on Brown Road. The trail is just shy of a mile, up and down. It can get a bit busy, but it isn’t ever really overly crowded. This trail offers a 295 foot elevation gain. The top of the mountain features some pretty nice views of both the Superstitions, McDowell, and the valley. I’ve noticed this to be a popular spot during full moons as well. Chloe and I can typically make it up in about 10 minutes, maybe 15 with the dog.
  2. Lower Salt River Nature Trail is a 2.5 miles loop with a slight elevation gain of about 49 feet. It is a fairly easy hike as it is pretty much just a trail through the desert along the river bed. Good for all skill levels. Perfect for kids and pets.

  3. Butcher Jones Trail at Saguaro Lake is definitely a favorite of mine. This trail is 4.9 miles out and back with a 541 elevation gain. It is rated as moderate and I can agree with that. There are a couple parts that’ll make you work, but it isn’t bad at all. You get awesome views of the lake, the Superstition Mountains, and Four Peaks. The trail does provide some shade in parts and you may see wildlife. We’ve never seen a rattlesnake, but have seen a non-venomous snake, birds, rabbits, and bees.

  4. Merkle Memorial Tail, located in Usery Park, is a 1 mile loop with a very minimal elevation gain at just 55 feet. There is very little shade so it can get hot, but the  pretty views are worth it.

  5. Pass Mountain Trail is another trail located in Usery Mountain Park. It is rated moderate and is a hearty 6.9 mile loop. 

  6. Wind Cave Trail is also rated moderate, but unlike Pass Mountain Trail it is only 2.6 miles out and back. There is a 770 foot elevation gain, making it a little more challenging but totally worth it. This trail is also located out in Usery Park.

Usery Mountain Park does have entry fees. Please note that you can NOT use a Tonto Pass here. Annual passes are available for frequent park users. You can view complete details at https://www.maricopacountyparks.net. Cash is preferred at the gate.

  1. Hieroglyphic Trail, in Apache Junction, can also be  rather educational as there are hieroglyphics at the top. The hike is about 2.8 miles with a 567 foot elevation gain and rated moderate.  Be sure to bring the camera and sketch pad for this one!

  2. Wave Cave Trail is another beautiful hike in the east valley. Located near the Superstitions in Gold Canyon, the trail is 3 miles out and back and features an 846 foot elevation gain. Not only are there spectacular views the entire way, but the wave cave itself is breathtaking. This hike is rated moderate. I’d say it is a little more strenuous than Butcher Jones, but  it’s still not bad at all. You may need to take a bit of a break right before the end, as it does get steep there for a minute, but I assure you it is well worth it.
  3. Then there is Flatiron… This hike is rated difficult and I fully support that. Please only attempt this trail if you are an experienced hiker or with someone experienced. Although, I will say there were kids of all ages passing me left and right on the way up. So who knows! The trail is just over 6 miles out and back and can get pretty crowded at times. I’d suggest going as early as possible, taking plenty of water, and even a protein bar or a snack of some kind to enjoy at the top. Although this hike is noticeably more difficult then the ones I listed above, the views are unparalleled! Be sure to take a camera.

Well, there y’all have it! 9 of my favorite hikes in and near the valley. It’s important to always be prepared when hiking. So I included a little must have checklist below. 

Water– You can seriously never have too much water, especially when hiking. I do recommend a hydration pack. You can find these just about anywhere. This is the one I have and I LOVE it! It holds 2.5 liters of water and allows me extra space for snacks and such.

Snacks– I recommend taking along things like protein bars, fresh fruits, nuts, gummies, granola bars, ect.

First Aid– It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, but something like the one I linked on here is good.

Toilet paper– Pretty self explanatory I would think. You never know what might happen with kiddos around. You can always try wipes like these too!

Camera– I know most of us have our phones, but just in case the kids don’t have phones just yet and want to snap some pictures as well. I do know Polaroids seem to be making a comeback, but you do have the added benefit of deleting the not so good ones on a digital camera.

Hat- Keep the sun off your head and out of your face with this fun hat for all you mamas out there.

Sunglasses- These are fun and have many benefits!

Sunscreen- Can’t forget the sunscreen when we live in Arizona.

Hand Sanitizer- Stay safe. Stay healthy.

I hope you get the chance to get out and explore some of these trails with your family! If I forgot your favorite hike, please let me know in the comments below. Chloe and I are always looking for new spots to discover.

*Remember to check your local listings for trail and park closures due to covid-19 before heading out
**Be aware of the weather conditions

 

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