Squaw Peak is beautiful all the way up. Camelback Mountain gives us a workout, and if we can hang in, we're treated to truly mesmerizing views of the Valley below. But these trails are so darn crowded. It's just not a relaxing hike when we're staring at a stranger's churning buttocks inches above our faces.
Black Mountain is where we go to escape the throngs. This landmark straddling Carefree/Cave Creek gives us the best of all worlds. The terrain's breathtakingly beautiful, scattered with black slate and lush with natural greenery. It's a workout, too, since it's 3,396 feet to the summit. When we finally make it to the top, we're treated to some of the prettiest views of Arizona we can imagine.
But Black Mountain also is deserted most of the time. In fact, it's rare to see more than two fellow hikers during an hourlong hike. Must be the independent spirit Cave Creek has fiercely guarded since being settled in the 1870s by miners, ranchers and others looking to get away from it all; the base of Black Mountain was their camp of solitude.
Now, it's ours.