I am a creature of habit. I usually hike my favorite trail. Where ever I may be, at any mountain in Phoenix, I always seem to take the same trail. Although hiking is a different experience each time, I found myself looking around in different directions, wondering what I might be missing. So I broke away from the mundane and took a different trail. I am happy to report that I was definitely NOT disappointed.
I must start by explaining that South Mountain is the largest city park in the United States. It has a ton of trails, but I fell in love with the view from Dobbins Lookout so I just stuck to that trail every single time. This view looks directly upon downtown Phoenix and gives a nice panaramic image of the surrounding mountains in the Valley, such as Camelback Mountain.
I never thought about changing it up until last week, when my pickup truck and my curiousity drove me past Dobbins Lookout to explore a more secluded section of the 14-mile long National Trail. The trail was steep, but quickly turned into a fun hike with lots to see in each direction. To my surprise, I liked the view from this trail just as much as my previous "favorite." I then vowed to take a new trail each time I go hiking. I have so much more ground to cover in this 16,000 acre park!
This was a great day to hike because the weather was pretty cool and the desert fauna was a little more lively than in the driest times of the year. I was somewhat disappointed because the wildlife seemed to be hiding from me that day, no lizards or rodents were seen, but toward the end of my hike, a group of birds flew overhead. I stopped to watch them soar through the sky in circles.
As they flew overhead, I was able to see the markings on two of the birds. They were Peregrine Falcons with brown speckled feathers ontop and a white underbelly. It was a special treat to see these birds of prey so closely in the wild. I'm not sure if the falcons were bothered by the human figures below, but they did chase a couple of black crows out of their hunting grounds. [Later, I did some research on these falcons and they sound like a pretty vicious predator to other birds. So maybe those crows were dinner for the Falcons!] Just as quickly as the falcons were spotted, they vanished, as well.
I decided to head back to the trail head and call it a day. On the way back, I ran into a few other hikers and even a hiking group of Canadian snowbirds. It was such a beautiful day for hiking. I can't wait to go hiking again!
I need to study the trail map to plan out where my next hiking adventure will begin! Click the map below for link to larger map in a PDF. You can also learn about the trails and read a short description of each here.