Generally speaking, we frown on guided hikes. The Sonoran Desert is not the Louvre, and true hikers hardly need to have someone spell out its (fairly obvious) magnificence. The extraordinary exception is the Elephant Mountain Fortress Hike at Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area. The relatively difficult seven-miler takes participants into the park's achingly beautiful backcountry for some sublime views and solid interpretation by Ranger Kevin Smith. Ranger K will fill you in on the newest, and most unusual, entry in the Maricopa County Regional Park system, which is set in a high-desert riparian area dotted with numerous archaeological sites.
Sat., Nov. 29, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., 2008