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Skyline Regional Park Day Hike
Buckeye
December 31, 2016
by Quy Nguyen
fog
Is it going to rain?
group
Twenty one Trailblazers brave to the weather.
Chuck, Marge, Andy, Jim, Joe, David, Diva, Mel, Billie, Dave, Quy,
Wendy, Mimi, Gabe, Sandy, Marilyn, Louis, Barbara, Gail, April, Ralph

Skyline Regional Park had its grand opening in January, 2016. By the end of September, the park had added three new trails for a total of 17 miles of non-motorized trails: Quartz Mine, Skyline Crest and Crest Summit.

Today we will hike the loop: Quartz Mine-Skyline Crest. The leader recommends the group hike counterclockwise, because Quartz Mine Trail offers gradual climbs, although there are steeper inclines in a portion of the trail. Also there are many minor ups and downs, from flat to easy rolls. It’s better than hiking up many switchbacks on Skyline Crest Trail if we were to hike clockwise.

mizzly
Hikers head out on Quartz Mine Trail.
trail
The hills are cloud-topped, but we’re prepared.
trail
Watson Lookout: Check it out!
tops
Rain or shine, here I am!
downgrade
Joe leads the group heading down from Watson Lookout.
downgrade
This part of the trail is mostly flat.

At the beginning of the hike there are some sprinkles, and thick clouds over the mountains over our heads. According the forecast, it will be cloudy until 10:00 AM today.

We put on raincoats, rain jackets and hit the QM trail at the picnic ramada on the south side of the trailhead parking lot. In just 0.1 mile we’ve climbed to the Watson Overlook. This is a warm-up for next challenge.

Along the Quartz Mine Trail there are quartz outcroppings, and a quartz mine.

coats
We won’t need any extra layers after this.
trail
Lost Creek trail is connected trail to Skyline Crest Trail.

We follow QM Trail to the Lost Creek Trail, turn left, and gradually hike up 0.4 miles to Skyline Crest. The leader warns the group that the trail will be up, up, and up. We hike a mile to the optional 0.17 mile slog up to the summit. This exposed trail, with many chollas along the slope of the mountains, provides a good climb and magnificent scenery. The trail is one of the best West Valley hiking attractions.

sign
Skyline Crest is rated as difficult.
cholla
Watch out! Chollas!
Teddy
Teddy Bears (Opuntia bigelovii) cheer us onward and upward.
view
Cacti enjoy the view.

At the sign of Skyline Crest and Crest Summit, some hikers decide to not go up to Crest Summit. Only ten hike up to summit. It’s a quad-busting climb to the high point. The short 0.17 mile, with many switchbacks, climbs 200 feet to the top with amazing views.

After enjoying the view and taking pictures, we hike down and take the 0.3 mile Skyline Crest Trail back to Quartz Mine Trail and retrace our steps back the trailhead.

cholla
Won’t you hug me? [photo by Ralph]
barrel
Barrel cactus with hairs.
sky
Blue sky, at last.
down
Careful footing when you hike down the loose gravel trail.
April
April says “I’m going to the Crest Summit too!”
summit
We made it!
1st row: Ralph, David  2nd row: Quy, Mel, Diva, Barbara, Wendy, Louis.  Standing: Andy, Marge.
down
Hiking down Skyline Crest back to trailhead.
trail
Can we call this is zig zag trail?

This is a good exercise hike to burn our extra calories from holidays, with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

Thanks to all for coming to join my hike today. Wishing you all the best of 2017. Happy Trails!

collage
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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated January 1, 2020