This is the time of year to take to the trails, and those trails are right here in the valley.
We are blessed with mountain parks that offer much of what the desert wilderness offers, without the long drive. And with the weather oh so nice, and your New Year's resolutions still fresh, it's time to take a hike.
South Mountain Park is the largest city park in the country,and get this...it has more types of rattlesnakes than any other place in the state. Pretty cool, huh? Now that your skin is crawling, here's why. The temperature and environment are on the border for lots of snakes, so instead of only a type or two, South Mountain gets a bunch. But that's not why you should go hiking there. I just wanted to get your attention.
The park consists of three different mountain ranges. The Ma Ha Tauk, Gila and Guadalupe and Mount Suppoa is the highest point (2,690 feet) in the three ranges. While it's not open to hikers, Dobbin's Lookout, at 2,330 feet is accessible by trail.
There's a hari raising switchback road going up to the radio and television towers that you see flashing from around the valley. It's a fun drive, and lot's of people take it to watch one of our famous Arizona sunsets, but please, be careful. It can be a dangerous trip.
The park is full of desert plants at their best, especiall around Easter when almost everything is in bloom. There are picnic areas, hiking trails, and horseback riding.
Probably the most well known mountain in our area is Camelback. Of course it looks like a big ol' camel as it's resting. Echo Canyon is the hot spot for hikers, as they take the trail up the mountain. The parking lot is always crowded with overflow parking along hte road in. Do not try double parking or parking in spots marked against it, cuz the rangers are there with their little citation books to get ya. The trail is harder than it looks, so no matter what time of year, take plenty of water. Also, make sure you've got good hiking shoes on, wear a hat, sunscreen, take a snack and a cell phone if you need it. Almost weekly, there's a rescue up on Camelback from someone who got stressed out from the heat, or twisted an ankle from going off trail. Also, rattlesnakes love to catch the sun on the trail so keep your eyes open.
So hit these two parks while the weathers nice and enjoy. I heard a rumor that it might get a little warmer in a few months.