South Mountain Park and Preserve is a true gem in Phoenix, Arizona. With over 16,000 acres of beautiful desert landscape, it is the largest municipal park in the country. Whether you’re a local or just visiting, this park offers something for everyone. From hiking trails to scenic drives, from horseback riding to mountain biking, South Mountain has it all.
One of the most popular things to do at South Mountain is hiking. There are over 50 miles of trails to explore, ranging in difficulty from easy to strenuous. For those who want a leisurely hike with stunning views of the city, the Summit Road Trail is a great option. This trail is 5 miles round trip and takes you to the top of South Mountain. From there, you can see panoramic views of Phoenix and the surrounding mountains.
For those who are looking for a more challenging hike, the Hidden Valley Trail is a must-do. This 3-mile loop takes you through a rocky canyon and up and over boulders. The trail is well-marked, but it requires some scrambling and rock climbing. The reward at the end is well worth it, as you emerge from the canyon to stunning views of the valley.
Another popular way to explore South Mountain is by bike. There are many trails that are open to mountain bikers, including the Desert Classic Trail, which is a 16-mile loop that takes you through some of the park’s most scenic areas. For those who want a more leisurely ride, the Summit Road is open to bikes as well.
If horseback riding is more your style, South Mountain has that too. There are several companies that offer guided trail rides through the park. This is a great way to see the park and experience the beauty of the desert on horseback.
In addition to outdoor activities, South Mountain also has several picnic areas and ramadas that can be reserved for gatherings. These areas have grills and tables, making it easy to have a cookout with family and friends while enjoying the beautiful scenery.
South Mountain is also home to the Mystery Castle, a unique and quirky attraction. The castle was built by Boyce Luther Gulley in the 1930s as a gift for his daughter. It is made entirely of found and recycled materials, including automobile parts, railroad ties, and salvaged bricks. The castle is open for tours on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from October to May.
Overall, South Mountain Park and Preserve is a must-visit destination for anyone in the Phoenix area. With its stunning desert landscape, miles of trails, and unique attractions, this park has something for everyone. So pack a picnic, put on your hiking shoes, and head out to South Mountain for a day of fun and adventure.