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Hidden Valley Lollipop Loop Hike
South Mountain Park
December 23, 2021
by Deirdre Sparling
Lin, Deirdre, Randall and Sharon at the Mormon Trailhead ramada.

This hike originally was scheduled for Christmas Eve, but with an 80 percent chance of rain in the forecast, it was wisely decided to move it up one day. Fortunately, almost everyone scheduled for Christmas Eve was able to hike on Christmas Eve Eve instead.

Four club members met at the Mormon Trailhead on S. 24th Street. This is a popular trail and the parking lot is often full, necessitating street parking. We lucked out, however, and were all able to park in the lot just prior to our 9 AM start time.

The first mile of the 3.5 mile loop has most of the 925 feet elevation gain. From the ridge, however, are excellent views of the city below.

View of Phoenix from Mormon Trail ridgeline.

On this day, when we reached the junction with the National Trail, a choice was made to hike the loop counterclockwise, so we turned right and hiked to the Hidden Valley Trail junction, where we turned left and east. Immediately, we encountered Fat Man’s Pass, where it’s fun to squeeze through two boulders into the start of Hidden Valley. For those who are still working off Thanksgiving dinner, however, there are options to go over or slide down instead.

Deirdre manages to squeeze through Fat Man’s Pass.

Hiking through the beautiful Hidden Valley involves sandy washes, boulder trekking and sliding and passing through an awe inspiring natural tunnel of massive boulders. We felt so fortunate to be able to admire and enjoy the tunnel without company, as this is a rarity, given the popularity of this trail.

Dramatic views through the boulders.
Passing out of the Hidden Valley Tunnel.
Randall, Sharon and Deirdre crossing boulders to a sandy wash in Hidden Valley.

Not long after completing the tunnel, we came again to a junction with the National Trail, where we turned right and north leading back the way we came to the parking lot.

Deirdre, Sharon and Randall are dwarfed by a gorgeous sky at the trail junction.

Six years ago, in December, 2015, this was the first hike Lin led for the club, and although I’ve hiked this trail dozens of times, this December 2021 is the first hike I’m leading for the club. I want to thank Lin, Sharon and Randall for joining me on this beautiful cloud filled day, and additional thanks to Lin for the wonderful photographs.

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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated December 29, 2021