Alta Trail at South Mountain

View from halfway up Alta Trail in South Mountain
View from halfway up Alta Trail in South Mountain
Megan Dobransky

I didn't make it to the end of South Mountain's Alta Trail on Sunday. I wasn't sick. I wasn't even tired.

I was bored.

There's nothing particularly wrong with Alta Trail. The 4.5-mile trail meanders along the desert floor and then up and over some of the smallish peaks of South Mountain, but there's virtually no steepness, no challenge.

In fact, the biggest challenge might have been parking in and subsequently maneuvering out of the tiny five-spot parking area across the street from the trailhead.

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Also, the long switchbacks make the length of this trail somewhat excessive. There's no real reason it should be 4.5 miles, and there's no real payoff to the length until the last mile that climbs the biggest of the peaks.

The best part of the trail was that it was practically deserted, and it's well passed some of the more popular South Mountain trails like Kiwanis and Beverly Loop.

To get to Alta Trail, take Central Avenue south until you see the sign for Alta and Bajada trails.

Distance: 4.5 miles total

Time: 3 hours

Elevation climb: 1,100 feet

Hiker's tip: Get there early to get a better parking spot.

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