Shaw Butte, Rainy Day Hike

Phoenicians love the smell of wet dirt.

Because I'm a Phoenix native and an avid hiker, I recently braved the raindrops for a stellar evening hike.

Hiking Partner and I got drenched while hiking up Shaw Butte on a semi-stormy evening last week.

During cooler months, we usually hike this entire loop. It's four miles and runs up and around Shaw Butte, located in the North Mountain Recreation Area.

For this summer evening hike, however, we decided to cut it short with just a quick jet up to the towers along a fairly smooth service road. It's just shy of 1.5 miles up -- and up -- there's hardly a break on this incline. But the road is forgiving. With a wide path and no rocky passes to navigate, this haul goes quick.

Park at the trail head on Central Avenue, just south of Thunderbird Road (access is only available from Thunderbird). You'll see the trail split within the first 50 feet. Take the path on the right (Trail 306) and head up the north side of Shaw Butte.

You'll inevitably run into lots of folks as it's a popular trail for families and dog-owners. In fact, the dog watching is what makes this trail so much fun. And, come to think of it, we've never had trouble with dog poo-poo on this hike (unlike, ahem, Kiwanis Trail).

When you get going, just put your head down, start breathing, and drag that ass up for a mile and a half until you reach the radio towers. Like I said, the steady incline is constant so you just have to muscle through.

The payoff is totally worth it. Once you reach the towers, you've got some stellar views to the west, north and east valley from here.

If you have three hours to kill, feel free to continue on with the loop. You'll run into the Cloud 9 Restaurant "ruins" (it's more like a slab of concrete) and some much rockier terrain on the descent.

But, if you're like me and you hike as the sun is setting (or, in this case, as the sun is covered by rain clouds), turn back after the radio towers. Easy enough, right?

Except for the going up part, of course.

Distance: approximately 2.8 miles

Time: 1 to 1.5 hours

Elevation Climb: 789 ft.

Hiker's Tip: Bring your dog. Fido will love it.

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