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Phoenix Mountains Preserve is possibly the most comprehensive, yet confusing trail network to navigate in the valley.
According to azcentral.com, "Many of our current trails are old trails — originally mining roads or horse trails, and some of those may have followed historic or ancient trails." There are even rumors of old mine entrances hidden along the mountain, but few people know how to get there. There are a handful of ways to explore the mountain, but this is one of the best trail running loops originating at Phoenix Mountains Park.
The park is gated, but opens around 5am each morning and closes around 7pm.
A pavilion with water and restrooms denotes the start of the hike. This is a classic desert trail run and is rather well marked.
Expect sandy washes, loose rock, jagged shale, and an occasional scramble as you circle the mountain, but beware of several intersecting trails that lead off the route.
Weathered saguaro and teddy bear cholla, named for their "fuzzy" appearance, are also abundant.
The rocky geology of the Phoenix Mountains also makes this a great run after a little rain. For some extra miles, this loop is also often paired with a visit to the summit for some incredible 360-degree views of the valley.
A spur leads up an intense, yet meticulously built trail to the vista - formerly named Squaw Peak.
This is the one of the most visited trails in Phoenix, so get an early start to your day to avoid the crowds. Sources: https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/asked-answered/2015/06/24/information-history-valley-hiking-trails-cbt/28947323/ https://www.phoenix.gov/parkssite/Documents/PKS_NRD/northlarge.pdf https://www.gjhikes.com/2014/11/circumferencefreedom-trail.html