• Kristina Louise

9 East Valley Hikes for Quarantine

Are you tired of being cooped up in the house? Times have changed y'all.  Rather than going to the movies, Top Golf, Dave and Buster, the pool, or out to eat--- We're going on walks, playing board games, binge watching Netflix, and eating too much junk food.  Luckily, most trails are still open and the weather is gorgeous!  I know I personally feel my best when I am outside in nature, and even my daughter Chloe enjoys exploring the great outdoors with me. In fact, it's probably our favorite thing to do together. No phones. No electronics. Zero distractions. Just true quality mother-daughter bonding. So, now is the perfect time to share some of our favorite hiking spots with all of you! Remember to practice social distancing while hiking and keep your distance from others on the trail. 

1. Spook Hill is a short trail located in East Mesa, just east of the Red Mountain 202 Freeway on Brown Road. The trail is just shy of a mile, up and down. It can get busy, but isn't ever really too bad. This trail offers a 295 foot elevation gain. It is open year around and dogs are allowed. The top of the mountain features some pretty nice views of both the Superstitions, McDowell, and the valley. I've noticed this to be a popular spot during full moons as well. Chloe and I can typically make it up in about 10 minutes, maybe 15 with the dog.

2. The Lower Salt River Nature trail is a 2.5 miles loop with a slight elevation gain of about 49 feet. It is a fairly easy hike as it is pretty much just a trail through the desert along the river bed. So it is good for all skill levels, open year around, and allows for dogs.

3. The Butcher Jones trail at Saguaro Lake is definitely a favorite of mine. This trail is 4.9 miles out and back with a 541 elevation gain. It is rated as moderate and I can agree with that. There are a couple parts that'll make you work, but it isn't bad at all. It is accessible year around and allows dogs as well. You get awesome views of the lake, the Superstition Mountains, and Four Peaks. The trail does provide some shade in parts and you may see wildlife. We've never seen a rattlesnake, but have seen a snake, birds, rabbits, and bees.

4. The Merkle Memorial Tail, located in Usery Park, is a 1 mile loop with a very minimal elevation gain at just 55 feet. Dogs are allowed on this trail and it is best used from November thru April. There is very little shade, but pretty views.

5. Pass Mountain Trail is rated moderate and is a 6.9 mile loop located in Usery Mountain Park as well. The trail is accessible year around with dogs welcome.

6. Wind Cave Trail is also rated moderate, but is only 2.6 miles out and back. There is a 770 foot elevation gain, making it a little more challenging but totally worth it. Trail is accessible November thru April and of course dogs are welcome. This trail is also located out in Usery Park.

7. Hieroglyphic Trail is rather educational as there are hieroglyphics at the top. The hike is about 2.8 miles with a 567 foot elevation gain. It is rated moderate, open year around, and also allows dogs. Be sure to bring the camera and sketch pad for this one!

Usery Mountain Park does have entry fees. Please note that you can NOT use a Tonto Pass here. Annual passes are available for frequent park users. You can view complete details at https://www.maricopacountyparks.net. Cash is preferred at the gate.

8. The Wave Cave Trail is another beautiful hike in the east valley. Located near the Superstitions in Gold Canyon, the trail is 3 miles out and back and features an 846 foot elevation gain. The trail is best used April through September, just be aware of the weather. Dogs are allowed, but as always please keep them on a leash. Not only are there spectacular views the entire way, but the wave cave itself is breathtaking. This hike is rated moderate. I'd say it is a little more strenuous than Butcher Jones, but still not bad at all. You may need to take a bit of a break right before the end, as it does get steep there for a minute, but I assure you it is well worth it.

9. Then there is Flatiron... This hike is rated difficult and I fully support that. Please only attempt this trail if you are an experienced hiker or with someone experienced. Although, I will say there were kids of all ages passing me left and right on the way up. So who knows! The trail is just over 6 miles out and back and can get pretty crowded at times. I'd suggest going as early as possible, taking plenty of water, and even a protein bar or a snack of some kind to enjoy at the top. Recommended use is September through June and dogs are allowed. Although this hike is noticeably more difficult then the ones I listed above, the views are unparalleled! Be sure to take a camera for this one.

Well, there y'all have it! 9 of my favorite hikes in and near the valley. It's important to always be prepared when hiking. So I included a little must have checklist below.

Water- You can seriously never have too much water, especially when hiking. I rather have it and not need it; than need it and not have it. I do recommend a hydration pack. You can find these at Target, Wal-Mart, local sporting goods stores, and of course Amazon. This is the one I have and I LOVE it! It holds ounces of water and allows me extra space for snacks and such.

Snacks- I recommend things like protein bars, fresh fruits, nuts, gummies, granola bars, ect.

First Aid- It doesn't need to be anything fancy and you can find these at local stores or online. I linked on here just in case.

Toilet paper- Pretty self explanatory I would think. Again, better to be prepared. You never know what might happen with kiddos around. You can always try wipes like these too!

Camera- I know most of us have our phones, but just in case the kids don't have phones just yet and want to snap some pictures as well. I do know Polaroids seem to be making a comeback, but you do have the added benefit of deleting the not so good ones on a digital camera.

Hat- Keep the sun off your head and out of your face with this fun hat for all you mamas out there.

Sunglasses- These are fun and have many benefits!

Sunscreen- Can't forget the sunscreen when we live in Arizona.

Hand Sanitizer- Stay safe. Stay healthy.

I hope you get the chance to get out and explore some of these trails with your family! If I forgot your favorite hike, please let me know in the comments below. Chloe and I are always looking for new spots to discover.

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