Hiking Hotspots: Go to places for your out-of-town visitors

Sun Lakes hikers enjoying desert hiking.

Sun Lakes hikers enjoying desert hiking.

Roberta Arpan

If your out-of-town guests aspire to see more of Arizona than golf courses, tennis courts and swimming pools, take them hiking. Almost all of the hikes below involve an element of driving. Thinking of taking an extended hiking break? Leasing a car might be a good option. If you’ve got friends in the Kansas area, tell them to check out Conklin Buick for some excellent SUV options available for lease. As for the actual hikes, below are descriptions of three popular spots.

Trail Name: Hieroglyphic Trail

Difficulty: Easy

Specifics: 3.5 miles; AEG: 625’; 42 miles from Sun Lakes

Highlights: Numerous petroglyphs can be spotted on the cliff walls at the end of the trail. You might also find several pools of water near the petroglyphs.

Driving directions: Take AZ 202 East to US 60, continue east on US 60 past Apache Junction and turn left at the traffic light at Kings Ranch Road. Once on Kings Ranch Road follow these directions: Go three miles and turn right on Baseline Road; go .2 miles and turn left on Mohican; go .4 miles to Valley View; turn left and follow Valley View for 1.4 miles (the name changes to North Whitetail); turn right onto East Cloudview and go .4 miles to the trailhead.

Other attractions in the area: Mesa Flea Swap Meet (open Friday, Saturday and Sunday) is off of US 60 before you get to Kings Ranch Road; continue east on US 60 toward Globe to find the Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park.

Trail Name: Inspiration Point

Difficulty: Intermediate

Specifics: 6.7 miles; AEG: 1300’; 35 miles from Sun Lakes

Highlight: At the end of the trail, look for an inscription written by Arizona’s first poet laureate embedded on a boulder.

Driving directions: Drive on AZ 202 West; take Exit 50A to AZ 101 Loop North; take Exit 36 merging right onto North Pima Road; turn right onto Legacy Blvd.; turn right onto North Thompson Peak Parkway; turn left after the sign “Gateway Trailhead;” and turn right into parking lot.

Other attractions in the area: Butterfly Wonderland, Musical Instrumental Museum and Odysea Aquarium are all located off AZ 101 before you get to North Pima Road.

Trail Name: Boulder Canyon

Difficulty: Intermediate (Hike can be extended to make it more difficult).

Specifics: 5 miles; AEG: 1400’; 55 miles from Sun Lakes

Highlights: Enjoy great views of the Canyon Lake Marina, Battleship Mountain and Weaver’s Needle.

Driving directions: Go East on AZ 202 to US 60, take Exit 30 onto Idaho and proceed to Canyon Lake Marina. The trailhead is across the highway.

Other attractions in the area: Superstition Mountain Museum and the Goldfield Ghost Town are on the way to the Marina; Tortilla Flat is two miles beyond the Marina.

The Sun Lakes Hiking Club is taking a summer hiatus but will resume in November with a full slate of hikes selected to accommodate all hiking levels. For more information visit the club website at http://www.meetup.com/Sun-Lakes-Hiking-Club. All interested persons are invited to the kick-off picnic and first monthly meeting November 4 at Oasis Park in Sun Lakes Country Club.