This week, I achived an accidental milestone. I have now hiked every single mile of South Mountain park official trails. This was never a real “project” of mine—I just sorta realized it while perusing my map collection over the long weekend. The coupe de grace was the Geronimo Trail, one I never got around tofor a really lame reason: it’s favored as a downhill mountain biker route.Bikers like to start at the top of the trail at Buena Vista Lookout parking lot and descend the rocky pitchat break-neck speeds.I’m a fan of shared-use, non-motorized trails and enjoy meeting bikers on the trails, but the constant moving aside for racing machines isn’t my favorite kind of hike. Certainly, a hike UP would be against the grain, but what better way to check off the sole survivor on my SoMo trail map.The crux challenge of this hike is its lack of directional signage, so route-finding skills (at the basic “pay attention” level) are required. It starts out as a clear path between two fences at the trailhead and continues 0.1 mile to the official park sign.That’s it for the help.Beyond the sign, the trail makes its climb over a combination of bare rock, dirt, rock-lined passagesand constructed native stone staircases.The collection of corrals and buildings near the beginning of the hike are part of the HeardScout Pueblo which is private property and off limits to hikers. Sketchy in places, the path seems to get swallowed upin washes and switchbacks.Here,hiker-placed carins and twigs serve as beacons.Like nearby Mormon Trail, Geronimo features some sweet views of downtown Phoenix and local mountains. Hike it on a clear day, and it’s exquisite.In between,the route delves into a beautiful slot canyon loaded with desert vegetation. Creosote, palo verde, ironwood, elephant trees, and saguaro cactuses flank the path spiking the air with spicy aromas.At near the mid point, an optional exploratoryside trip into a gorge of sand and schist (similar to Hidden Valley) offers peeks at Hohokam petroglyphs while adding only 0.5 mile more to the trek. Keeping in sync with the theme of the hike— don’t expect this spur path to be obvious. I was lucky to run into a local man who has been hiking the park almost daily for many yearsand he was kind enough to point it out and even gave me a tour, otherwise, I would have trudged right past it in ignorant bliss. (So many nice folks hike and bike in the park!)
And so, after puzzling over a few confusing junctions, I emerged on a crumbly high ridgeline on South Mountain, took in a celebratory deep breath of crisp air,oogled the views and descendedamong the wheeled hordes.
From Phoenix, go south on Central Ave to Baseline Road. Turn left (east) and continue 2.3 miles to 20th Street. Turn right (south) and go 0.8 mile to where the road makes a sharp right turn and becomes Dobbins Road.This turn is marked by 2 big yellow arrow signs on the left next to a small dirt lot—-this is the trailhead, and there’s a small “Geronimo Trailhead” sign tucked among the curbside creosote marking the start point of the hike.Parking is very limited, maybe room for 4 cars—do not block private drives.
Bio: Serial blogger, manic hiker and “mom” to a dozen adopted dogs, Mare Czinar has been exploring Arizona trails for more than 20 years. After being led astray (or just plain confused) by outdated hiking books and online resources (hence the tagline: We got lost, so you don’t have to), Czinar sought to create a fully vetted, frequently updated online hike travelogue with current driving and hiking directions to spare fellow hikers the mental and physical wear-and-tear of aimless wandering.
In addition, blog entries are amended when road closures or wildfires restrict trail access. When not working, blogging, writing about the great outdoors or picking up dog poo, Czinar attempts to “stay found” while checking out new trails.