By: Lauren Fach
On the weekends, I love to escape from my hectic work week with the peace and serenity commonly found at South Mountain Park in Phoenix, Arizona. Hiking is great excercise, but I also enjoy the chance to clear my mind of stress and think of new ideas. Some of the more popular hiking trails in Arizona, such as Echo Canyon at Camelback Mountain, tend to be too boisterous and crowded taking away the calming effect I feel when I'm submersed in nature.
South Mountain Park is the largest municipal park in the country, according to the Trust for Public Land. The park has over 16,000 acres including 51 miles of primary trails for horseback riding, hiking and mountain biking for all skill levels. You may see families having a picnic lunch, hikers with their dogs, cyclists riding down the windy road from the summit or you may see no one at all. It really is the perfect escape from reality, eventhough it's only a few miles from downtown Phoenix.
You don't have to be an athlete to visit South Mountain. One wonderful aspect of this park, is that you can drive you vehicle to the summit and I recommend that you do. The view into the Valley is breathtaking. You can see downtown Phoenix skyscrapers, Camelback Mountain, the West 6th Towers in Tempe and various other landmarks, which are pointed out on a sundial from the summit.
Tips from the Hiking Expert
Bring extra water and snacks- If you don't need it, you may see someone on the trail that does.
Be respectful to nature- Don't step on, break or remove any wildlife. Don't litter. Leave the park the same way you found it
Communicate- Tell someone where you are going and when to expect you back.
Always have your cell phone- In an emergency, your GPS signal can be used to find you.