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Maricopa Trail
Tonto National Forest
February 6, 2021
by Ted Tenny
  GPS Map
  GPS Map
group
Trailblazers at Lone Mountain Trailhead. [photo by Quy]
kneeling:  Quy, Li, Julie, Tom, Chris, Randall
standing: Lin, Carl, Rodney, Kelley, Amy, Jane, Keith, Laura, Barb, Ted, Cindy, Michael

18 energetic Trailblazers set out from Lone Mountain Trailhead on a perfect (for Arizona) winter day. After introductions and a group picture, the Pass Mountain Loop hikers took off first. They were
•  Michael, Julie, Lin, Cindy, Kelly, Quy, Randall, Chris, Tom, with Li as deputy.

The rest of us left after the Pass Mountain Loop hikers were out of sight:
•  Jane, Keith, Laura, Barb, Amy, Carl, Rodney, with Ted as leader.

sun
The Userys catch the first rays. [photo by Ted]
sun
Ah, the golden light of early morning! [photo by Ted]
group
“Short” hikers: Jane, Keith, Laura, Barb, Amy, Carl, Rodney, Ted. [photo by Quy]

The Maricopa Trail parallels the highway until you get past the hill. You have great views of the Goldfield peaks. Upon reaching the junction with the Usery Pass Trail, the Pass Mountain Loop hikers turned left (north), while we turned right (south).

The Usery Pass Trail has many side trails and junctions between the Maricopa Trail and Usery Pass Trailhead. “Stay with me,” I admonished. Soon we were at Usery Pass Trailhead. The pylon that I went around to prove I was there is gone. So, we just hiked back to Lone Mountain Trailhead.

hikers
Ted explains sugar frosted rocks. [photo by Laura]
rock
Lichens munch on the boulders. [photo by Laura]
view
“Won’t you hug me?” [photo by Ted]
wood
The insects around here are boring. [photo by Ted]
lichen
I took a likin’ to the lichens! [photo by Ted]
view
“With or without the mistletoe, I’m in a holiday mood.” [photo by Ted]

Though I’ve hiked all the trails many times, I’d never done this particular hike. So I scheduled it for the Trailblazers. We enjoyed perfect weather. Li graciously agreed to be the deputy leader for the Pass Mountain Loop.

→   More pictures, by Quy
→   More pictures, by Li

Supplemental Report
by Li Li
  GPS Map 
by Tom Simonick

Ten trailblazers signed up for the long hike including the Pass Mountain Loop, which started on the Maricopa Trail. Although it was only eight o’clock, the large parking lot was packed with cars. The temperature was in the 40s, which was perfect weather for a hike.

We started on the Maricopa Trail along the highway, gradually ascending toward Pass Mountain. We soon reached the junction with the Pass Mountain Trail. Our group went to the left to do a clockwise loop. We soon started climbing after the trail junction.

The Sonoran Desert was beautiful! It was filled with tall, gigantic, healthy-looking, and varied saguaros, with clustered chollas and other lower desert bushes in the background. Although it was too early for wildflowers, the mountain was still very scenic. Michael, our hiking expert, pointed out a lookout place that was the perfect spot for our first group picture. With a cool breeze brushing over our faces, we were all relaxed, comfortable, and happy hiking on a beautiful day with great companions.

After few miles ascending the mountain, we stopped to take in the fresh air, and a well-deserved break. There stood a large, tall and beautiful saguaro that caught my eye. Michael happily climbed on a large rock and we got memorable pictures. Lin was relaxed, so she did yoga on the large rock as well. Everyone cheered for her successful positions. The mountains were filled with our laughter.

Around 1100 AM we reached the saddle of the Pass Mountain Trail. A few of us climbed to the peak of the mountain, while the rest stayed at a lower ledge. We had a lunch break on the top of the mountain while enjoyed stunning views of the Superstition Mountains. After the break, we started descending to continue the loop.

We passed a few hikers, trail runners, and mountain bikers on the trail. When we reached the Cat Peaks and Pass Mountain trail junction, we saw more and more people, since it is close to the Wind Cave Trailhead.

There Randall talked with a ranger. We learned that the wind cave was busy, and despite covid precautions, people had not stopped visiting the wind cave.

The last 2 miles were a little harder, since the weather was getting warmer and we were a little tired after more than 8 miles of climbing. Though everyone was still excited and delighted to finish off a nice hike. The majority of us reached the trailhead at 1:00 PM. We hiked 11.1 miles in 4 hours 39 minutes. Another successful day in the mountains! Thank you, Ted, for organizing this great hike!

Have a nice weekend!

Li   

group
“Long” hikers: Randall, Tom, Lin, Li, Chris, Cindy, Kelley, Julie, Michael, Quy. [photo by Li]
view
Four Peaks, Golden Spike, and Dome Mountain. [photo by Li]
hikers
Merrily, merrily, down the trail we go. [photo by Li]
view
Last look at Lone Mountain, from the Northeast Lookout. [photo by Li]
hikers
Our favorite saguaro! [photo by Tom]
Lin
Lin’s favorite saguaro! [photo by Li]
Michael
Michael’s favorite saguaro! [photo by Li]
hikers
“Long” hikers on the Pass Mountain Trail. [photo by Quy]
hikers
Li and Lin. [photo by Li]
view
You’d think the Pass is the highest point on the trail. [photo by Quy]
hikers
Li, Cindy, and Tom exploring the peak. [photo by Kelley]
hikers
Made it to the Pass.  Starting down on the other side.  [photo by Li]
tree
Let’s do the Twist. [photo by Quy]
rock
I live here, you see. [photo by Quy]
cactus
Ocotillo blossoms amid saguaro. [photo by Quy]
view
The peaks of Pass Mountain. [photo by Li]
view
Lone Mountain comes back into view on the Usery Pass Trail. [photo by Li]
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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated February 8, 2021