Take your grandchildren hiking this holiday season


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Just in time for that time of year when families often visit their grandparents, Sun Lakes Hiking Club members have compiled a list of favorite multi-generational hikes. The trail at Papago Park leads the list. Located minutes from downtown Phoenix next to the Phoenix Zoo and the Desert Botanical Gardens, Papago Park is a short drive from Sun Lakes. There’s lots to see and hear as you hike the easy trails through the park. You can visit Hunt’s Tomb, see sandstone buttes and the impressive Hole-in-the-Rock, experience an orienteering course and listen as wild animals howl and growl! Bring a picnic lunch to eat under one of the ramadas. This hike is for all age groups; however, grandchildren ages 6-11 may enjoy it the most. Go to this website for more information and a trail map, https://www.phoenix.gov/parks/trails/locations/papago-park.

Another hike appropriate for families is the Butcher Jones Trail. Stop at the Chevron station at Fort McDowell and pick up a Tonto Day Pass before arriving at the Butcher Jones Recreational Area. You’ll need it for parking. Be sure you bring along lots of water, as there is no drinking water available at the trailhead. There’s an approved picnic area there though, so come prepared to use it. While driving into the Recreational Area, be alert for wild horse sightings and Old West scenery!

As for the hiking trail, it’s under five miles in length, out and back, mostly flat with a few stretches of gentle incline. At any point when your grandchildren tire, it’s easy to turn around and hike back to the trailhead near the beach. There are opportunities for shoreline access, which any kid knows means a chance to skip rocks! What draws hikers to this recreational area is the opportunity to see the best of Arizona — a stunning lake set against rising canyon walls, acres of saguaros and other desert flora, as well as a variety of soaring birds, like peregrines. Read more about the Butcher Jones Trail at http://www.arizonahikersguide.com/all-hikes/hike-butcher-jones-trail-saguaro-lake.

Chandler is home to Veterans Oasis Park, another great place to hike with grandchildren. You’ll find it at 4050 E. Chandler Heights Road. It offers four miles of walking/hiking trails, covered picnic areas and a regularly-stocked urban fishing lake. In addition, an array of classes for all age groups is offered in the Environmental Center there… something for everyone!

As you can see, there are several excellent options for hiking with your grandchildren. Start planning now for making hiking memories with them!

The Sun Lakes Hiking Club’s regular season is in full swing. A complete description of its scheduled hikes and other updated information can be found at https://www.meetup.com/Sun-Lakes-Hiking-Club/events/calendar.

Members meet at the Cottonwood parking lot at 7:45 a.m. for December hikes. If you’re new to the club, plan to go on a Mellow hike and call the hike leader in advance.