Hiking Partner and I learned a very valuable lesson this Labor Day weekend: Don't hike a new trail when it's 112 degrees outside.
Excited by the promise of a measly 104 degree temperature high for the day, we figured hitting the trail at 10 a.m. would be a fine idea. Of course, it wasn't.
Yes, we're morons.
Flushed cheeks, sunburns and overpowering dizziness aside, North Mountain would be a fine hike for fair weather.
North Mountain is located just West of 7th Street, between Dunlap Avenue and Thunderbird Road. We started at the south end of the mountain at the Quechen Ramada.
The 1.6 mile summit hike is a loop is that's split between a rocky trail and a paved road. We chose to brave the steep incline of the south side of the mountain starting along Trail #44. The plan was to climb this rocky portion, descend on the paved part, and hop back on the #44 for the return to the car.
This is definitely the way to go. The south side is rocky and steep which keeps your feet guessing and your heart pumping. It gets a little tricky in some spots so keep the dogs and kids off this side of the mountain. I prefer climbing this kind of terrain. There's a lot of potential for slipping if you've got downward momentum.
After a hard-earned .6 miles, you will reach the summit. I won't sugar-coat it: the view ain't that great. Of course, we were staring at the scenery in the brutal mid-morning sun so it was bad timing on our part. Still, there's a tangle of towers at the top, the paved road is in sight, and houses creep up the west side of the mountain. It's tough to find a pretty view with all the urban distractions.
Heading down the north side on the paved road was great . . . until we missed our turn. The winding road is wide and easy to descend. So easy that we got chatty and forgot to look for the trail marker to get back onto the #44 trail. It wasn't until we got to an entirely different trailhead that we realized our mistake.
We back-tracked up the steep, boring, ugly paved road until we reached our turn-off. This is when we really started to feel the heat and our thermometer told us it was 112 degrees out. And, yes, I felt like barfing.
Distance: 1.6 Miles
Time: 1 hour (2 hours if it's so hot that you have to take lots of breaks to keep yourself from puking)
Summit Elevation: 2104 ft.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Elevation Climb: 644 ft.
Hiker's Tip: Um, don't do this during the hottest time of day in the dead of summer.
Check out our other recent hiking news/reviews: