Best Nearly Out-Of-Town Hike 2002 | Pinnacle Peak Park | Fun & Games | Phoenix
There are a hundred reasons to hike up Pinnacle Peak. First, the scenery is breathtaking, high Sonoran Desert in all its glory. Second, there's variety. Besides hiking trails over 150 acres, there are three rock-climbing areas. Third, there's the feeling of victory if we make it to the top of the 3,171-foot peak. Fourth, it's nice to know that the main 1.75-mile hiking trail is less demanding than our two most popular mountains, Camelback and Squaw Peak.

Reasons five through 100: flat-out snubbing-the-snooty satisfaction. Since 1994, the park has been closed to us regular folk, commandeered by a developer building the upscale Estancia home community. The fencing was supposed to be temporary; new homeowners refused to take it down, citing concern over riffraff (that's us) coming too close to their manicured yards. Finally, this spring, Scottsdale parks planners woke up and returned our park to the people.

It's hard to hike and thumb our noses at the same time, but hey, we're willing to bet the effort burns extra calories.

Who needs reality TV when you can be out getting a cardiovascular workout on Squaw Peak? We've traveled up other more vigorous hiking trails and found people too tired to dish the poo. We've tried easy walking trails where it's too hard to keep pace with a pack of gossiping secretaries. This trail has the perfect balance of physical challenges and audible mental breakdowns.

You'll get more mother-in-law gripes than a borscht belt comedian convention, more upper-management-bashing than a bound volume of Dilbert cartoons. And as an added bonus, you'll get 75 percent more inane chatter about tapping into your personal potential than a 30-day Tony Robbins cassette course -- without the incessant smiling.

Plus there are the human oddities, like the midday New Age guru who hikes with bells, the perfumed and fully made-up professionals who never sweat, and this one guy whose body odor actually resembles bacon and eggs! Don't delay. Get off your ass and join in!

It easily could have wound up as just another 75 acres of concrete jungle, but instead the old Phoenix Indian School grounds now include a 2.5-acre lake and a neighborhood park with a playground and volleyball courts. The 1,500-seat amphitheater housed the city's summer concert series this year, including free steel drum and Brazilian jazz performances, and even a performance by our favorite local jazz musician, Margo Reed. An entry garden is marked by walls made of old sidewalk from the original Indian School, and throughout the park you'll find tributes to Native American culture. This project was more than a decade in the making, with heated negotiation from City Hall all the way up to the U.S. Congress. For a change, our leaders did the right thing. Thanks.

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