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Marcus Landslide Day Hike
McDowell Sonoran Preserve
December 22, 2012
by Wendy Rennert
  GPS Map 
by Ted Tenny
group
18 Trailblazers at Submarine Rock

18 Trailblazers avoided the last minute Christmas shoppers and enjoyed a perfect day outside hiking the Marcus Landslide trail. The trail was named after Dr. Melvin Marcus, an ASU Geography Professor. Although the landslide is estimated to have occurred about 500,000 years ago, it was only recently discovered in 2002, by two ASU grad students. This is an interpretive trail, with plenty of signs along the way to help explain what factors may have occurred to cause this 2nd largest landslide in Arizona.

Check out the earlier trip report from our March 2012 Marcus Landslide hike for the details regarding the landslide.

rock
Just a matter of geologic time from magic mushrooms ... to fallen mushrooms.
rock
Alas, a fallen mushroom.
bird
A prime area for Phainopepla sightings.

We passed a few access routes for rock climbers along the trail, and enjoyed the many granite boulder formations formed by spheroidal and subsurface weathering. One odd coincidence was that after we saw a boulder formation in the shape of an anvil, we later saw an extremely large real-life anvil at Greasewood flats, where we ate lunch.

rock
I’ve heard of two-faced, but three-faced?
rock
Don’t go getting your nose out of joint!
rock
A tale of two anvils.
anvil

The views to the east were pretty and impressive, including Bartlett Dam, Four Peaks, Weaver’s Needle and the Superstition Ridgeline in the shadows, the Verde River glistening in the sun, and the snowcapped Mazatzal Mountains. The Verde River is one of the oldest rivers in Arizona. It runs 195 miles from southwest of Flagstaff into the Salt River east of Fountain Hills.

view
Mile-long slidemass is in the middle of the photo.
hikers
Making our way to the top of the landslide.

rock
Hurry, take the photo — this thing is heavy!
Once up on top of the landslide, we made our way around the loop trail. The highlight on top of the landslide was Submarine Rock. A short path led right down to the rock, where you can actually stand underneath this immense boulder in the grotto formed by the material upon which this rock sits.

It was right around this time when I was scooting across a rock and tore a small hole in my pants in an unfortunate location. Oops. Hey, never fear, duct tape to the rescue! Not exactly fashionable, but it did the trick, and earned me the nickname “Patches.” Later, Rudy even applied a similar piece to his hind quarter just as a ‘sympathy’ patch. Twins! Well, we do share the same birthday anyway, albeit 20 or so years apart.

view
Three familiar landmarks in the far distance.
view
View of Rock Knob from Marcus Landslide Trail.
Flat
Lunch at Greasewood Flat.
On the way back to the trailhead, we took a side trail to the Rock Knob area. We continued on that trail into the McDowell Regional Park for a short distance, hoping that the trail would lead either up onto Rock Knob or loop around it, but that was not the case, so we turned around and went back to the trailhead.

Many of us continued on to Greasewood Flat afterwards for lunch. I think I found a great contender to finally challenge my ranking of best pulled pork sandwich (up until now, the Horny Toad in Cave Creek had my top vote)! Some of us stayed a little bit longer until the live music started and a few Trailblazers enjoyed a little dancing.

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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated December 18, 2018