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Talon Trail Day Hike
Usery Mountain Regional Park
March 16, 2023
by Robbi Fowler
     GPS Map    
by Robbi
group A
Trailblazers are ready to hike the new trail in Usery Mountains. [photo by Rodney]
Left to Right: Randall, Barbara, Susan, Terri, Jan, Veronica, Neil, Gene, Janet, Yu-Ling
Front: Shannon, Billie, Rich, Ron
Kneeling: Robbi.

All arrived at/before 8:45am in the Visitor Center parking lot. Maricopa County fee of $7 was required and I was remiss in not knowing that as I own an annual pass that I never think about. Intros and then a group picture, taken by Rodney Baba, who was off to hike elsewhere since he had Bronson (and Jackie) along for the ride.
Fifteen hikers began at Visitor Center trailhead at 9am after taking off a layer due to the warming 58˚ temperature. We set off on Lost Sheep trail until we intersected with Chain Fruit trail.

Lost Sheep on the trail. [photo by Ron]

The wildflowers were there, but not yet opened fully into the sun. It was the GREEN of our surroundings, the buds and new leafing on every plant that struck a chord. And of course, the Chain Fruit in abundance.

Trail map. [photo by Gene]

From Chain Fruit Trail we passed an intersection to Campground A&B Campground and came to intersection with the lower NEW section of the Talon Trail. Talon opened in November 2022 and is not, as yet, included on the park’s maps. The Nature Center desk volunteers will give you a sharpie drawn map.

Time to start on the new trail. [photo by Gene]

Along the very beginning of the Talon trail we encountered many wildflowers, budding cacti and birds. Of special note was a miniscule bloom that appears as just a white dot on the end of a ragged stem underfoot when you leave the trail for a horse or a bike. But if you look closely, I mean CLOSELY. There is a perfect white bloom. Not sure, but we believe it is a Combur. Verified later that it is Combur.

Combur flower.

Talon parallels a small wash in this section, today making two dry crossings after it crosses the main road inside the park and past the campgrounds C&D. This junction is just a few feet west of the junction of a small spur trail to the Cholla Forest Campground.
Then Talon meets up and overlaps the Pass Mountain Trail for a bit. Then Talon turns left at a Y while Pass continues its circumference path. Talon travels NW towards Tonto National Forest. The gate to Tonto National Forest is at the TH and bump out parking at Usery Pass Rd. To cross into Tonto or park in the along the road a Tonto Pass is required. There is also another trail at this trailhead that heads northeast and will take you to Mt Spur and over to the Hawes Trail System.

We have found the Cholla Fruit trail. [photo by Ron]

All the trails in Usery Mountain Regional Park are clearly marked with official park signs, even this new one. We turned around to come back to a group of rocks and stopped to have a snack. We returned the way we came.
We encountered a hiker that has been “attacked” by a jumping Cholla Ball. As a group we came to her “rescue” with a large-toothed comb, more than one set of tweezers and lots of advice and encouragement. She continued with her group and we ours, in opposite directions. Soon after, a light and welcome rain began to cool us and continued as we returned to the parking lot and said our goodbyes.

Yu-Ling, Terri and Robbi. [photo by Gene]
Note: these links are temporary. Look at the pictures while you can.

→   More pictures, by Ron
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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona updated April 25, 2023
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