South Mountain is a unique hiking area because of its variety of trail lengths, difficulty and sheer number of options. Both beginners and seasoned hikers can find something to satisfy their getting-outdoors urge.
Mormon Trail is one of those happy medium trails. It's difficult at some parts and climbs pretty high in elevation -- at 1,000 feet -- but it's definitely nothing to be afraid of.
The beginning is the most difficult part; it's the steepest and most rocky section. After that, it's a series of small elevation climbs, usually with long swtichbacks, and level walks.
The 1.1-mile climb up eventually intersects National Trail, the 14.3-mile behemoth that cuts through South Mountain, and Javelina Trial via Mormon Loop Trail.
As with any popular trail in the Valley, it can get crowded at peak times of day, usually between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., primarily on weekends. (I discovered this on a Saturday when string after string of hikers and their dogs interrupted my own rhythm up the mountain)
Know this, fellow outdoor enthusiasts, there is a hiking code of etiquette. You always acknowledge other hikers with a friendly "hi" or "good morning," and you get out of the way -- especially of the mountain bikers. I spent about 15 minutes behind a bevy of talkative, indifferent hikers who didn't follow the last rule of etiquette. Rude.
The Mormon Trail head is located at 24th Street and Valley View Avenue, just north of Baseline Road.
Distance: 2.2 miles total
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Time: 1 hour
Elevation climb: 1,000 feet
Hiker's tip: Try to avoid the crowds by going earlier or later in the day, and as always, drink lots of water.
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