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Maricopa Trail - Userys Day Hike
Usery Mountains
March 23, 2019
by Michelle Jelsma
group
Trailblazers ready to hike. [photo by Michelle]
Bettye, Barbara, Herman, Pete, Michelle, Rebecca, Terry, Mark

Eight hikers gather early to start this day on the Maricopa Trail. Mark and Michelle were able to plant a vehicle at the Granite Reef Recreation Area, where the hike would end.

That done, once we were signed in we hit the road and after a quick introduction at the Wild Horse Trailhead, we had boots on the trail just before 7:00 AM.

The first 3.5 miles was a steady descent, winding our way through the early morning beauty of the Sonoran desert. The trail was shaded from the morning sun for the first 45 minutes. The trail was very clean and made for a brisk hike, as we were on a 3 mph pace.

skeleton
Saguaro skeleton.
[photo by Michelle]
hikers
Merrily, merrily, down the trail we go. [photo by Michelle]
group
Our first break for everyone to catch up and catch their breath. [photo by Bettye]
hikers
Catching our breath at the junction with a beautiful view of Red Mountain in the background.
[photo by Michelle]

At the 3.5 mile mark we come up on the trailhead and take a turn south on the Twisted Sister Trail. The Twisted Sister starts with a steep descent on slippery scree into a wash bed. On the other side of the wash we started our climb up heading south towards the base of the Usery Mountain Range.

At the 4 to 4 ½ mile mark we start to see the wildflowers coming alive. As we head east on the trail we have a moderate ascent and will see a wide array of wildflowers.

hikers
They are still following me. [photo by Michelle]
cactus
A crested Barrel cactus? [photo by Michelle]
Wildflowers galore. [photos by Michelle]
yellow orange
orange mixed
flowers
flowers
ocotillo
Ocotillo reaches skyward. [photo by Michelle]
view
The sky is beautiful. [photo by Michelle]

The group did an easy stroll up the trail, stopping to take pictures and admire the views and beauty of the desert. When we got to the Saguaro Trail we took a side trip, going north to a mine shaft. We found a way up on top of the mine, where we had a beautiful view of Red Mountain. So we stopped here for a snack break.

mine
Exploring the mine shaft. [photo by Michelle]
group
Trailblazers at the mine shaft. [photo by Michelle]

After our break we head back to the Saguaro trail and Twisted Sister Trail junction and continue on the Saguaro trail. The trail has some nice ups and downs, giving us a workout while enjoying the desert and the weather. The Maricopa Trail goes along the Saguaro Trail, Ridge Trail, Granite Trail, and back to the Saguaro Trail before crossing Bush Highway and turning west, hiking ½ mile on the inside of the guardrails to the Granite Reef Recreation Area.

Mark drove two hikers back to the starting point to retrieve their vehicles. Five hikers went to Red, White, and Brew for a well-deserved meal.

8.7 miles, 923' AEG.

→   More pictures, by Michelle
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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated May 28, 2019