Our mild weather makes now the perfect time of year to try some of the best hikes in the East Valley. Each is less than an hour from Cadence at Gateway in Mesa, and range from easy to invigorating. Everyone from fitness enthusiasts to families can pack plenty of water, lace up their hiking boots, slather on sunscreen, and hit these 14 great local trails!
- Lost Dutchman State Park and the Superstition Mountain Wilderness
We love Lost Dutchman State Park and the area around the Superstition Mountains, located about 30 minutes from Cadence at 6109 N Apache Trail in Apache Junction. The park is named after a gold mine made famous during the wild west days. The area boasts several trails of varying difficulty, including First Water, Siphon Draw, Treasure Loop, Hieroglyphic Trail and many more. Here’s a list that provides the length of hikes, difficulty and location of the trails. See map at link for locations:
Hieroglyphic Trail is rated Easy, with an elevation gain of 570 feet. It’s a 2.9-mile trail that features a small waterfall and is good for all skill levels. This is a great hike for young children and families.
Flatiron via Siphon Draw is rated Hard, with an elevation gain of 2,933 feet. The trail is 6.2 miles and very popular with hikers. Features beautiful wild flowers with sufficient precipitation and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The views are unbeatable.
Treasure Loop Trail is rated Moderate, with an elevation gain of 498 feet. The trail is 2.4 miles for hiking and trail running. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
Peralta to First Water is rated Moderate, with an elevation gain of 2,024 feet. Fabulous views of Weavers’s Needle can be seen during this 11.3-mile hike.
Weaver’s Needle Loop Trail is rated Hard, with an elevation gain of 2,985. The 13.1 mile trail takes you up Weaver’s Needle, one of the most famous landmarks of the Superstition Mountains.
Garden Valley Trail is rated Moderate, with an elevation gain of 672 feet. Garden Valley Trail is a 5.6-mile lightly trafficked loop trail that offers the chance to see wildlife.
- Wind Cave Trail in Usery Mountain Regional Park
Be sure to check out the trails in the 3,648-acre Usery Mountain Regional Park at 3939 N Usery Pass Rd! Like Lost Dutchman State Park, Usery has several trails of varying length and difficulty. It’s about 25 minutes from Cadence at the western end of the Goldfield Mountains. The most popular trail is the 2.9-mile Wind Cave Trail, rated Moderate, with an elevation of 761 feet, and features a small cave. You can find chipmunks near the cave and breathtaking views of the surrounding area. In the morning, the second half of the trail is almost completely in the shade and has a great area to enjoy lunch in the shade at the top. Great for fit families or with young children in hiking backpacks.
The Merkle Trail is also an easy loop around a mountain that’s only 2 miles long.
There’s a $6/vehicle charge to enter the park.
It’s fun to end the day watching the sun set from the top of Silly Mountain, with a 2.4-mile trail rated Moderate. It’s not too far out of the city of Apache Junction, about 20 minutes northeast of Cadence, with a little incline of 456 feet that makes you feel like you’re getting a workout but nothing too strenuous. There’s a nice nature trail at the bottom.
San Tan Mountain Regional Park boasts over 10,000 acres of desert with hiking/biking trails and a visitor’s center with wildlife exhibits located at 6533 W Phillips Rd, Queen Creek, about 30 minutes south of Cadence. The park ranges in elevation from about 1,400 feet to over 2,500 feet with the vegetation changing from creosote flats to dense saguaro forest. Various types of wildlife may be observed, including reptiles, birds, and mammals.
The park visitor’s center has a nice memorial of the Arizona residents who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan and a Desert Tortoise Habitat.
Gold Mine Trail to San Tan Trail is rated Moderate with an elevation gain of 754 feet. The 4.7-mile loop trail features beautiful wild flowers in the lower Sonoran Desert.
Dynamite Trail is a 3.6-mile heavily trafficked trail that is rated Easy and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, trail running, horses, and mountain biking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash. Elevation gain 387 feet.
San Tan Trail to Moonlight Trail is ranked Moderate. The 6.1-mile moderately trafficked loop trail is best used October through April and features beautiful wild flowers in the spring. Elevation gain 429 feet.
San Tan Loop Trail is ranked Moderate and is the longest in the park, at 7.4 miles. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash. Elevation gain 551 feet.
Lost Gold Mine Trail is ranked Easy at 6.9 miles, good for all skill levels. Accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash. Elevation gain 698 feet.
Additional top trail tips can be found at https://www.alltrails.com/ Where’s your favorite place to escape the city and elevate your perspective on a quick hike?
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*Photos Courtesy of AllTrails.com and Jenna Miles.