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Alta-Bajada Loop
South Mountain Park
February 3, 2018
by David French
  GPS Map 
group
Randy, John, Tom, Ramona, Linda, Ken, Krista, Steve, Li, Kari, Sandy, Billie, Katarina, Dave
view
Looking westward. [photo by Randy]
Taking advantage of the first weekend each month opening of San Juan Road, 14 Trailblazers met at the San Juan Lookout Trailhead just before 8 AM. The is the western-most point in the Phoenix South Mountain Park. The morning was cool but not as cold as last year when we did this hike. Of course, nothing in this area so far has been cold in 2018. I had decided to hike this trail clockwise and starting at the Lookout Trailhead so that we would hike up the steep park of the Alta trail. After hiking it, the group agreed this is the way to hike this loop.

From the trailhead, we headed east on the Alta Trail and immediately began a climb that did not relent until we had gained 1000 feet in about 1.5 miles. We were on the north side of the Ma Ha Tuak Range with Maricopa Peak as the highest point. We did not get any direct sun until we reached the first summit and got good views to the west of the Sierra Estrella, Vi Quiva Casino, and parts of Lehi area. After a brief break in the welcome sunshine, we headed down and back into the shadow of the mountain. We continued eastward and eventually came to a second high point and back into the direct sunshine. From this viewpoint we could see across downtown Phoenix and Piestewa Peak and Camelback Mountain and more distant Four Peaks. The air was a bit hazy so the photos were not great.

hikers
Here we go up and up. [photo by John]
break
A short break.
moon
The super moon is still there. [photo by Li]
trail
Alta Trail.
Estrella
Sierra Estrella and Via Quiva. [photo by Randy]
hikers
Finally we get a down grade. [photo by John]
hikers
Nearing the east summit. [photo by John]
city
View across Phoenix. [photo by Randy]
hikers
Ready to descend the Alta Trail. [photo by John]

Again, after a brief break we headed down the Alta Trail with good views to the south and east across South Mountain Park. When we reached the bottom, we found a nice arroyo that provided some shade and rocks to sit on so we stopped for our snack break. We continued across San Juan Road to a small trailhead (this is where we started last year) and took the connecting trail east to the Bajada Trail and turned right to head west. The Bajada Trail is gently rolling and drops down into a few arroyos along the way. We reached the junction with the National Trail and crossed San Juan Road a second time. The last leg along the National Trail is fairly flat so the hikers really picked up the pace to reach the end and the cars.

hikers
Hikers all in a row. [photo by John]
hikers
Descending. [photo by Li]
peak
Maricopa Peak from across San Juan Road. [photo by Randy]
hikers
Heading west on the Bajada Trail.
hikers
Truding back to trailhead on the National Trail. [photo by John]
trailhead
Finally, the San Juan Lookout Trailhead.

Seven of the hikers went to Los Dos Molinas Restaurant on South Central for eats and drinks. We got great service and everyone left happy.

lunch
Los Dos Molinas.

There were 14 hikers. We had two drop out at the last minute due to illness and two no shows.

Here are the stats:
8.3 miles
4 hrs 53 minutes
Avg speed 1.69 mph
Avg moving speed 2.3 mph
Min elevation 1188'
Max elevation 2427''
Total elevation gain 1850 feet

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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated February 6, 2018