Trails: Bursera > Gila > Lost Ranch Mine > Pyramid
Miles: 5.7 miles
Difficulty: Medium (some hills, but nothing rigorous)
Trailhead: South Mountain Park Trailhead Parking Lot, 15498 S 19th Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85045
A sort of sunrise hike… Sort of, as in I tried to make it to the mountain to be hiking during sunrise but life happened and I wound up watching it in my rearview mirror. Whoops! Nonetheless, still beautiful and still an excellent morning!
We began our hike from the South Mountain Park Trailhead Parking Lot off Chandler Blvd where you launch from the Pyramid Trail. Bursera starts at the first fork to the left – there is a post noting such. The trail wraps up the hill with plenty of lookout points that offer great views to the east, south, and beyond (aka great spots to catch sunrise – if you’re timelier that I was!).
I decided to cut across Gila Trail (5.7 miles RT) rather than National Trail (7.1 miles RT - this is the original route I found via AllTrails) due to the warmer than normal temps. Skipping the first little trail I saw that forked to the right – a super-short shortcut back (connects partway down Gila) – we continued on Bursera until we hiked down to a wash and back up. Just past the wash was the start of Gila Trail heading off to the right. From there we just kept to the right at any fork in the trail and made our way back to the parking lot (Lost Ranch Mine Trail to Pyramid Trail).
Despite a full parking lot, we saw very few people along most of our hike. When it comes to hiking with these two yahoos, a hike that gives us plenty of space and very few trail interactions earns an enthusiastic double thumbs-up from me!!
My best guess was that everyone chose the other trail option (continuing on Pyramid Trail) or we were all traveling in the same direction (counter-clockwise). It wasn’t until we hit Lost Ranch Mine Trail that we really came upon any significant number of folk – and normally I’d just insert a <shrug> here as I don’t mind meeting people on trails, and in fact it is often enjoyable – but we also suddenly encountered quite a few dogs!! Apparently everyone takes their dogs hiking at 9am!