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San Tan Regional Park trails

Location

How to Get There
This hike is located near Queen Creek, AZ.

From the Phoenix area, take US-60 East to the Ellsworth Road Exit. Go South on Ellsworth Road, which eventually turns into the Hunt Highway going East. Take the Hunt Highway, turning right onto Thompson Road. From Thompson Road, turn right on Phillips Road and park in the designated parking area. The turn-offs to Thompson Road and Phillips Road are both signed for the San Tan Mountain Regional Park.
city
queen creek
state
az
Region
Phoenix Area and Central Arizona

Hike details

Distance
5.70 [Miles] Total
Hike Distance- Details
5.7 miles for the "Q" loop. 3.2 miles for the Northern Loop
Time
2.15 [Hours]
Time-details
It took us 2 hours and 15 minutes for the "Q" loop. It took us 1 hour 15 minutes for the Northern Loop.
Elevation Change
1,000 Total gain/loss [Feet]
Elevation Details
about 1000 ft gain for the "Q" loop. The Northern Loop hike is flat.
Hike Trail Type
Loop

Season

Best Season
  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December
Date Hike completed
January 12, 2006

Solitudue

Solitude
Medium
Solitude Details
Pretty good. We only shared the trail with a few horse back riders. Expect to meet 5-15 other hikers.

Difficulty

Difficulty Rating
Moderate
difficulty detail
Very interesting, as this area is still a work in progress. The "Q" loop is an moderately difficult hike. The Northern Loop is an easy hike.

Permits

Be Aware of
small fee to enter the park ($6 as of Dec 2007) and some route finding

hiking through the desert located in a new regional park south east of the Phoenix area

NORTHERN LOOP AND 'Q' LOOP

The San Tan Mountain Regional Park is a work in progress in the south east area of the valley, near Queen Creek. When we first hiked here, there is a proposed trail system, however the trails are not fixed yet. There were a few "Temporary" loop trails marked as Loop A and Loop B. These trails have since been marked, although in a different manner than the the temporary labels.

 

Either fortunately or unfortunately, we took an unmarked loop trail that took us further south, looping around the 2300 ft peak to the southwest of the parking area. We have no idea if this loop will become part of the eventual park trail system, but we're calling this the Q loop (Q for "Questionable").

 

The Q loop starts at the visitors center. Towards the back of the visitors center is an entrance to the park. Don't forget the $6 parking fee.

 

Follow the San Tan trail to the south from the visitor center. It can be sandy walking and there are sections where you are walking in a wash following horse hoof prints. Follow the trail eventually winding through a saddle with views of the west side of the park, including views of the Gila River Indian Community. Here the trail becomes more distinct and easier to follow. This area of the hike is the most picturesque, as you are alone among the Saguaro dotted desert, with towering mountains to your North. Keep your eye out for the area of trail that turns right (North) to make sure you don't walk right out of the park.

 

The trail continues around the un-named peak, eventually merging back up with the Northern loop, which is a well marked dirt road, closed to vehicle traffic. This trail section is now named the Moonlight trail. From here, it's a flat, straight shot back to the parking area.

 

A few days later, we returned to try the Northern Loop. The Northern Loop is well marked and starts from the parking area after entering the park and paying your $6 to the nice person at the gate. We did the Northern Loop in a counter-clockwise direction to make it easier to navigate. Turn right at the first hiking sign for the Northern Loop, this is marked as Goldmine Trail. From here, the route finding is minimal as long as you follow the signs pointing for the trail at any trail intersection. This loop is more flat but also exposes you to the solitude of the desert in this park. There are plenty of good views of the Goldmine Mountains to the north. This trail is open to mountain bikers (which yield to hikers) and horseback riders (which you need to yield to) so stay alert. After 1.1 miles, the Goldmine trail ends and you turn left onto the San Tan trail. Take the San Tan trail another 1.5 miles to the intersection with the Moonlight trail. Turn left onto the Moonlight trail and follow it the remaining 1.2 miles to return to your car.

 

If you have the time, the memorial to the fallen solders of the Afgan and Iraq wars is well worth the time to visit. It's at the base of the tall flagpole near the visitor center. The details of hiking in this area are sure to change as the park evolves, but this is nice glimpse of what may come.

 Link to San Tan Regional Park website: http://www.maricopa.gov/parks/santan/

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San Tan Regional Park trails
San Tan Regional Park trails
San Tan Regional Park trails

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