Hike Marcos de Niza Ridgeline / National Loop

2.8 miles 640 ft gain  - Loop Trail

Added by Nick Tort

If you're looking to: get off the tourist highway trail, enjoy killer South Mountain views, take a rollercoaster for a hike with an easy stroll or jog back to the start - this is a loop you should give a go.

This is somewhat of a hidden gem in South Mountain Park, the largest municipal park in the United States, even though it's right there for all to see. The best way to take advantage of this trail is to attack the ridgeline with an intense hiking pace or trail run, connecting it to the National Trail (fire road) and jogging it home to complete the loop.

At the east side of the park, Pima Canyon Trailhead, head directly south onto Desert Classic and immediately shoot to the right into a quick ascent up to the ridgeline. Follow the trail as it climbs and falls along the ridge and winds up, around and over mini peaks until you reach the large Boulder Pile (around 1.4 miles). Cop a quick scramble up to the top and breathe it in.

This area proves to be the best view along this loop as to your right, the ridgeline blends into the eastern cities, and on your left, National Trail (fire road section), Beverly Canyon and the Javelina Trail course through the park against the Phoenix city backdrop. Hop your way through the boulders as it slightly dips and comes to a fork. Stick to the right and head down towards the stone houses and the junction with National Trail.

This section of National Trail (also just referred to as the fire road) is a wide smooth trail that winds it's way back to the Pima Canyon Trailhead. There are slight ups and downs, but it is relatively a smooth coasting ride - making it ideal for a trail run to finish up the adventure.

There are no signs along this hike although it is pretty heavily used. The full ridgeline trail almost extend roughly 4 miles across South Mountain Park and can be connected for a custom adventure with: Beverly Canyon Trail, Corona de Loma, Desert Classic, National Trail, San Gabriel Ridge, San Gabriel Canyon, Telegraph Pass, and more.

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Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Picnic Area


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Overall rating: 

👍🏻🇺🇸👊🏻 Power hour!

Great time! I followed the directions given and as of 1/3/18 the road leading to the parking area was closed. It added probably another mile in total to my run. Started my run from S. 48th St. up the trailhead road to the parking area, headed South, ran up the ridge line on the right (which was an ass kicker) ran up and down the ridge until the final big drop near the power line and then up the next steep one as well. Turned to the North then back to the East and ran the fire road all the way back to 48th St.

Really Fun!

I love to either hike the ridge line part and then run the fire road back or vice versa. Fun and close to home

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