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Sept. 27, 2008 North Mountain Charles Christiansen Trail

(See the Photo Albums for pictures of this hike)

Some observations of my North Mountain Hike:

Sunday morning 9/21/08 I had my gear, food, and water prepared for hiking the full length of the North Mountain Trail #100 (The Charles Christiansen Memorial Trail). The total length from end to end is approximately 10.5 miles acording to the Park Service.

Regina and I left from home around 4:30am and arrived at the trailhead around 5:15am on the west side of Tatum Blvd south of Shea Blvd. I had to wear my headlamp about 30-45 minutes until the sun rise was enough to provide light. I carried about 4.5 liters of water on this hike.

The trail was quite rocky and consisted of masses of very loose, fist-sized rocks or pebbles. At first, the trail was well marked and easy to navigate, but one of the most frustrating things I later found about this trail, which makes up the backbone of the North Mountain Trail system, is the progressively poor trail marking system in use. Many times, I would come to a fork in the trail with no trail signs anywhere and not be sure of which trail to take. There was massive numbers of these side trails from #100. In some cases there would be a trail marker, but the arrow would be pointing in a direction that would cut between both forks, thus being absolutely meaningless.

The trail had many elevation changes, but for the most part stayed within the valleys between ridges and peaks.

A coyote did pass in front of me on the hike and had its tail hidden between its legs as it bounded its way through the brush. It gave me the impression of a very large jackrabbit boucing through the desert!

The trail is multi-use, so many mountain bikers passed me along the way. A few trail-runners were there as well. A couple of people with dogs were on side trails crossing the #100. Even though horses are allowed on the trail, I saw none, other than their "traces" all over, if you know what I mean:)

Several community subdivisions were approached along the way and 3 main roads were passed under through the use of tunnels. Starting from Tatum and going west trail #100 first passes under Highway 51 then Cave Creek Road and finally 7th Street.

Being at a lower overall elevation than many other trails in Phoenix brings with it an exposure to higher temperatures, so this hike was particularly hot much of the way.

The end of the trail brings you to the North Mountain Park Parking area. Due to a loop-the-loop (aka, making a wrong turn on a side trail when I should have continued on the main one and eventually finding my way back to where I started) and a short back and out at one point, my total hike according to my pedometer was about 12 miles.

My overall impression of the this trail was that it passed through very nice scenery at times and interspersed with nature-crushing development. The hike would have been more enjoyable if it was done on a cooler day.


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