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North Mountain Preserve
February 16, 2021
by Billie Horn
Ten Trailblazers ready to hike. [photo by Quy]
Debi, Laura, Yvette, Rodney, Quy, Sharon, Steve, Chuck, Billie, Neil

Ten hikers met at the trailhead in North Mountain Park at 9:00. We were delayed a few minutes while waiting for everyone to gear up. Quy took the group picture and many more great shots on our trek.

I had planned three points of interest along the route, but because of the steep, rocky nature of the first climb to the towers on North Mountain (elev. 2104') up Trail #44 and the time of day, I decided to forgo one which would have added a mile or two and another hour.

North Mountain has many trails. [photo by Quy]

As hike leader, listening to the comments of the group and knowing there were several more tough climbs to go, I made the call. After a steep, rocky descent to the valley floor (approx. 1360') we crossed the valley using Trails # 60 to #100 to Trail #306, which begins the Shaw Butte Loop in a clockwise direction with an elevation of 2149' at the towers.

Looks like a tough trail. [photo by Quy]
Onward and upward. [photo by Quy]
Whew! [photo by Quy]
It gets steep on the way up. [photo by Quy]
Ocotillo does’t mind. [photo by Quy]

We stopped to enjoy a snack break before taking on this challenge. At around halfway up we stopped at the remains of the Cloud 9 restaurant, which served the community of Sunnyslope and surrounding area in the early 1960s, and also was home to the owner’s family until it burned to the ground in 1964. There is mystery surrounding the fire to this day. I found an interesting history video on YouTube Cloud 9 Restaurant.

Jagged boulders everywhere. [photo by Quy]
Ocotillo in bloom. [photo by Quy]
Exploring the remains of Cloud 9. [photo by Quy]

We reached the Shaw Butte towers, and after pausing to enjoy the view of downtown Phoenix and the expanse of the valley and surrounding mountain ranges in all directions, we headed back down.

Almost to the towers. [photo by Quy]
Taking a break at the top. [photo by Quy]
The view from the top. [photo by Quy]
On the down grade. [photo by Quy]

Halfway down, we visited an ancient ruins with petroglyphs and remains of “rooms” inhabited by the early dwellers.

This mountain is for the birds. [photo by Quy]
Ancient petroglyphs. [photo by Quy]

Upon reaching the valley floor, we left Trail 306 and took in a side trip to the North Mountain Visitor Center, where there are outside restrooms. From there we hiked a new connector trail which runs parallel to 7th Street and reunites us with Trail #44. This trail has a few steep, short uphill places, just enough to make us very happy to see our cars.

Thanks to everyone for making this a very enjoyable, rewarding hike.

Thanks to Quy for photos and Neil for serving as sweep.

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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated February 21, 2021