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San Tan Loop Day Hike
San Tan Mountain Regional Park
January 9, 2021
by Randall Greeley
  GPS Map 
by David French

Hike results:
Short loop group: 7.6 miles 3.5 hours
Long loop group: 11.5 miles 5.25 hours

group
Trailblazers ready to hike. [photo by Randall]
Tom, Rod, Li, David, Carl, Jeff, Billie, Dennis, Kim, Michael, Amy, Chris, Nancy, Debbie,
Heather, Nick, John, and not pictured but taking the photo, hike leader Randall.

We meet at the San Tan Trailhead, elevation 1670 feet. There’s a small visitor/nature center with a gift store. We begin with a group photo and start hiking at 8:30 AM.

We set off on a clockwise loop on San Tan Trail. It is a beautiful morning, 40°. At 1.5 miles we come to our first point of interest, petroglyphs. The park says they have yet to undertake a study to determine their age.

The group’s consensus is that since it looks like a wine bottle, it’s probably not ancient.

hikers
Jeff and Debbie at the petroglyphs. [Randall]
hikers
Heather and her son Nick. [photo by Randall]

Continuing on for another half mile we come to a crested saguaro, which is the result of the cactus having a cancer, the feature is actually called a fascination.

picture
Tom, Amy, John, Debbie, Chris, Li. [Randall]
Randall
Randall, hike leader. [photo by Li]
view
Mountains, on a beautiful morning!
[photo byRandall]
Amy
Amy at the trail sign.
[photo by Randall]

Continuing until mile 6, we come to the junction with the Dynamite Trail. The short loop group continues on the San Tan Trail and will eventually turn right onto the Goldmine Trail, leading them back to the trailhead, for a total loop hike of 7.6 miles.

group
Short loop group: Jeff, Rod, Amy, Kim, John, David. [photo by Randall]

The long loop group turns left, onto the Dynamite Trail for the next 2.2 miles, until they meet the next junction with the north end of the Goldmine Trail. Another quarter mile to the north is the Goldmine Trailhead, but we are turning right.

Our next point of interest is the graves of Mansel Carter and Marion Kennedy. The side trip is about 0.1 mile off the main trail and is well marked. The graves themselves are also easy to find. Here we take a small lunch break and read the detailed information stone markers about these two local historic figures.

hikers
Lunch break: Chris, Michael, Heather, Debbie. [photo by Randall]
graves
Graves. [photo by Randall]

Another 0.1 mile takes us back to the Goldmine Trail, and we begin our ascent up Goldmine Mountain on a steep and hazardous section.

The trail reaches the main saddle, where we catch our breath and do another quick side trip to a peak to take in a fantastic view of the southeast valley.

group
Nancy, Randall, Michael, Nick, Heather, Li, Dennis, Tom, Debbie, Billie, Chris. [photo by Li]
nest
A well-protected nest. [photo by Randall]

Returning to the trail, we begin our descent. The Goldmine Trail takes us all the way back to the San Tan trailhead. We have completed an 11.5 mile loop, arriving at 1:45 PM, for a total of 5.25 hours for the trip. In addition to the visitor/nature center, some of the group visit the war memorial and tortoise habitat, which are also located at the trailhead.

→   More pictures, by Li
→   More pictures, by John
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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated January 15, 2021