Maternity Hiking: Deem Hills Circumference and Basalt Loop

Deem Hill is located in the north valley near Happy Valley Road (ish) and 51st Avenue. Also, Deem Hills is pretty.

Deem Hills is located in the north valley near Happy Valley Road (ish) and 51st Avenue. Also, Deem Hills is pretty.

Well, here I am at week 11 and rejoicing each day I get closer to shedding the total hell that has been the first trimester.

They say it gets better at trimester #2. I’m choosing to believe that they are absolutely right.

And when I recently hiked in Deem Hills, I found that my cardio was stronger, the climbing went well, and I powered through almost three miles! Sure, I don’t have the I’m-not-pregnant-and-I’m-writing-a-hiking-book stamina that I enjoyed a year ago. But, things are getting better! #littleedie

Now let’s get to this hike, shall we?

Deem Hills Circumference and Basalt Loop

Distance: 2.7 miles

Elevation Gain: 400 feet

Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Pregnancy Difficulty: Moderate…maybe strenuous for the first mile

Location: Deem Hills

This hike is featured as an option in my book, Take a Hike Phoenix, on page 230.

This hike is featured as an option in my book, Take a Hike Phoenix, on page 230. Follow the yellow arrows seen here!

This loop follows the newly-popular Deem Hills Circumference Trail from the 51st Avenue side of the park. Expect a challenging climb of about 300 feet in the first mile then a relaxing walk for the remainder of the hike.

Oh, and you don’t have to be knocked up to do this hike. In fact, I hiked this trail with three non-pregnant companions and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

Start the hike from the southeast side of the parking lot. Find a wide, dirt access road to follow at first, then join the Circumference Trail at the trail marker to your left. Take a right turn at the fork to head east (still on the Circumference Trail) and begin the big climb of the day. Though challenging, it lets up after about a mile and ends as you approach intersections in the trail. Read the trail signs and hop off the Circumference Trail to follow the Basalt/Ridgeline Trail. The trail is shared for just a few feet until the Ridgeline Trail breaks away to the left (it’s the one that climbs the hill…you don’t want that one). The Basalt Trail also splits at this juncture in two directions. Follow the Basalt Trail that heads straight (north) and ignore the trail that veers right. Descend along a series of short switchbacks that last for a quick 0.1 mile until you come upon a trail sign for the Circumference Trail. Hang a left turn heading west. As the Circumference Trail veers north, pass by the Ridgeline Trail (this is the other end of the climb you wisely elected to skip) and continue on the Circumference Trail for the rest of the hike as it traces the other side of the hill and spills into the parking lot. That’s all there is to it. (You can follow my hike and see photos here — scroll to the lower right of the page to get driving directions.)

Like this? Want more? Buy my book!

Obligatory disclaimer for the pregnant ladies: Check with your doctor before engaging in exercise.

Maternity Hiking: Dreamy Draw Bike Path to the Bridge

Somehow a sunset makes the constant nausea and fatigue manageable. Oh, did I mention I'm pregnant?

Somehow a sunset makes the constant nausea and fatigue manageable. Oh, did I mention I’m pregnant?

It seems like hiking takes on a new meaning every year.

Eight years ago, I would rip my way up Piestewa Peak to burn muscle and lung so I could hurt in a different way as I was emotionally negotiating a crummy breakup. Five years ago, I hiked so I could gain a physical release that replaced mediocre sex with boring men. Four years ago, I hiked to get to know a new boyfriend who turned into my husband and one of my best hiking companions. Then about two years ago, hiking became my job as I wrote Take a Hike Phoenix.

Today, I hike to escape the nausea, fatigue, and imprisonment on the couch that comes along with the first trimester of pregnancy.

Oh yeah, I guess this post doubles as my pregnancy announcement. I’m 10 weeks pregnant.

So from now until August 31st (my due date) this blog will mostly be committed to the trails that I deem appropriate for a pregnant woman. In other words, these trails are pretty darn easy. But I hope they help another sickly pregnant woman slide off the couch long enough to get a little air and some exercise. In my experience so far, it’s about the only thing that actually makes me feel better.

These trails will also work well for beginner hikers, kids, and other folks who enjoy easy strolls through the desert.

First up: Dreamy Draw Bike Path to the Bridge

Distance: 2.1 miles

Elevation Gain: About 150 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pregnancy Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Location: Dreamy Draw Recreation Area in Phoenix Mountains

The Dreamy Draw Recreation Area is located in north central Phoenix.

The Dreamy Draw Recreation Area is located in north central Phoenix.

This simple trail is paved all the way and runs through Dreamy Draw Recreation Area then along Piestewa Fwy 51. It stretches for miles but for my pregnant purposes, I followed it to the pedestrian bridge that crosses the 51 for a nice little walk that barely tops 2 miles.

Starting on the south side of the Dreamy Draw Recreation Area parking lot, head up the path to pass by the volleyball court and Ramadas. Take a left at the restrooms and you’ll soon find the wide bike path that stretches north and south. Take a left to follow the path north/northeast for about a mile. Within this mile, the path will turn to asphalt and pass along a few homes to the southeast with Highway 51 to the northwest. Just when the sound of the traffic gets a little annoying, you’ll find the pedestrian bridge. Cross the bridge to overlook the cars below then turn around when you reach the far side. Retrace your steps along the path for a gentle descent and enjoy the feeling of not spending the last hour rotting on the couch.

A few words of caution: Be sure to stay to the far right side of the path and bring a flashlight or headlamp if you hike at sunrise or sunset. Mountain bikers love to cruise along this path and they ride FAST. Getting plowed would be bad under normal circumstances, let alone in your “delicate condition”.

For an interactive map, photos, and Google driving directions, visit my Everytrail entry for the Dreamy Draw Bike Path to the Bridge.

Obligatory disclaimer: Check with your doctor before engaging in exercise.

Upcoming Book Signing Events for Take a Hike Phoenix

Come to my book signing at REI stores!

Come to my book signings at REI stores!

Hey all!

Just a quick note to let you know that I’ll be signing copies of Take a Hike Phoenix at multiple events in the coming months. Each event features a short presentation and is followed by a book signing.

The following events take place at both REI locations. Don’t forget to bring your copy of Take a Hike Phoenix or plan to pick one up at REI the night of the event.

Please mark your calendars and click to link to register for the event. Then be sure to show up so I don’t look like a total loser. Thanks and I hope to see you there!

Don't have one yet? That's okay! They're at REI.

Don’t have one yet? That’s okay! They’re at REI.

REI Tempe
Date: Wednesday, 2/5/2014
Time: 6:30 – 8:00 PM MST
Event Fee: Free
Link to Register
1405 W Southern Ave (at Priest)
Tempe, AZ 85282
Phone:(480) 967-5494

REI Paradise Valley
Date: Thursday, 2/27/2014
Time: 6:30 – 8:00 PM MST
Event Fee: Free
Link to Register
12634 N Paradise Village Pkwy
Phoenix, AZ 85032
Phone:(602) 996-5400

Description: Lilia Menconi, hiker and author of the new Phoenix hiking book, Moon Take a Hike Phoenix shares her “Top 10, 1 to 10” presentation featuring photos, maps, and anecdotes of her favorite ten Phoenix-area hikes ranging from one to ten miles. Whether you want a beginner’s stroll through the desert or an all-day sweat fest, Menconi can show you the way. The presentation will be followed by a book signing of Moon Take a Hike Phoenix which includes trail reviews of 81 hikes, now available for purchase at REI.

Stay tuned for more book signing events to be announced later!

Stop Yelling and Start Hiking

I took my extended family on a fabulous hike...and then a lady yelled at my brother. What. Ever.

I took my extended family on a fabulous hike…and then a lady yelled at my brother. What. Ever.

I’ve noticed something a little off over the past few months. This hiking season I’ve been thrilled to see parking lots jam-packed with hikers ready to lace up and hit the trails.

Thrilled that is, until I see one hiker yelling at another over parking.

A few weeks ago, I witnessed two groups in a hassle about the unwritten rules for saving a parking spot. A friend recently reported that someone picked a fight with him over his parking maneuvers. And, last week, some AWFUL woman pulled up her car and gave my brother an earful because she had been waiting too long for our party of 20 family members (we had folks in town for a wedding) to finish our hike and say goodbye to one another.

Waiting in the parking lot is dangerous business. How can you yell at a guy in an AZ t-shirt? That's just wrong.

Waiting in the parking lot is dangerous business. How can you yell at this lovable guy in his AZ t-shirt? That’s just wrong!

I’m sad to report that all of these incidents occurred at the Piestewa (Squaw) Peak Parking lot.

I suspect that the nastiness is partially due to this year’s closure of the Echo Canyon Summit Trail at Camelback Mountain. The Camelback regulars have spilled over to Piestewa and it’s causing some a-holes to act like d-heads and that’s really not cool.

Though we’re all rejoicing over the recent announcement that the Echo Canyon trailhead will re-open next week, I’m worried that some of this residual rage will be carried over. There are more parking spots at Echo, sure, but the place will be packed for weeks and that means we may be in for more parking rage.

So hikers, please keep this in mind: You’re hiking to have fun. And so is that guy who’s taking “too long” to back out of his spot. Take a deep breath, have some patience, and remember why you’re out there.

Why fight over Piestewa or C-back when you have SO many options? This is Tom's Thumb. Page 241 in Take a Hike Phoenix.

Why fight over Piestewa or C-back when you have SO many options? This is Tom’s Thumb. Page 241 in Take a Hike Phoenix.

And if you don’t think you can handle the crowds at these popular trails, I have good news for you! Phoenix is filled with tremendous hikes. Pick up Take a Hike Phoenix, 60 Hikes within 60 Miles, or Cosmic Ray. Check out your options, try new trails, and experience a different adventure on the trail. There are so many more places to hike other than Piestewa or Camelback!

(See how desperate I am for this to be resolved?!?! I’m promoting other hiking books! Apologies to my publicist.)

And most of all, please stop yelling at other hikers. Because it’s totally messing with my happy-hiker-lady vibe, man!

Be safe and HAPPY (happy!) hiking!

Vintage Take a Hike Phoenix

Do you follow Vintage Phoenix?

Oh, you should, you should!

They are almost solely responsible for my ability to compile the following images that constitute this blog post. These vintage postcards and photos show landmarks, mountains, and parks that are featured in my book, Take a Hike Phoenix.

North Mountain (Page 46 in Take a Hike Phoenix)

1951 (Hatcher and Central)

1951 (Hatcher and Central)

Piestewa Peak (Pages 59-70 in Take a Hike Phoenix)

119??

19??

19??

19??

1930s (Arizona Biltmore)

1930s (Arizona Biltmore)

Camelback Mountain (Pages 75 & 78 in Take a Hike Phoenix)

1920s

1920s

1960s (Thomas Mall)

1960s (Thomas Mall)

19??

19??

1970s

1970s

Arizona Falls (Page 81 in Take a Hike Phoenix)

Arizona Falls c.1900

Arizona Falls c.1900

Hole in the Rock (Page 84 in Take a Hike Phoenix)

1907

1907

1940s

1940s

Papago Park (Page 87 in Take a Hike Phoenix)

1920s

1920s

1934 (Amphitheater)

1934 (Amphitheater)

1950s

1950s

Hayden Butte aka A Mountain (Page 90 in Take a Hike Phoenix)

1880s

1880s

1950s

1950s

1975

1975

South Mountain (Pages 125-144 in Take a Hike Phoenix)

1960s

1960s

Holbert Trail to Dobbins Lookout in South Mountain (Page 134 in Take a Hike Phoenix)

1940s

1940s

Saguaro Lake, Butcher Jones Trail (Page 162 in Take a Hike Phoenix)

1957

1957

Weaver’s Needle, Peralta Trail to Fremont Saddle (Page 195 in Take a Hike Phoenix)

19??

19??

Superstition Mountains (Pages 185-204 in Take a Hike Phoenix)

19??

19??

19??

19??

Neat, right?

Preview Excerpts from Take a Hike Phoenix

This gorgeous sight can be found on the Spur Cross and Elephant Mountain Loop in Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area.

This gorgeous sight can be found on the Spur Cross and Elephant Mountain Loop in Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area.

Hey all!

The wonderful people at Moon.com posted my Top Five Phoenix Area Hikes to De-stress During the Holidays complete with full excerpts from my hiking guidebook, Take a Hike Phoenix.

Here’s my author page for the entire list of posts and reviews with color photos (ooh-la-la!).

If that’s looking pretty good to you, consider taking the $12 plunge and purchase Take a Hike Phoenix today.

Happy hiking to you!

Best Solitude Hikes for Beginners in Honor of National Take a Hike Day

This Sunday (November 17th) is National Take a Hike Day!

I’m excited. But given my pathetic blog stats lately, I very much understand that not everyone is a hiking nut like me.

I get it. Exercise — an activity that requires you to wear tight clothing, grow sweat rings, and potentially expose your lack of cardiovascular endurance — is not something everyone wants to share with other humans.

So for those of you who hate getting sweaty in front of others, I propose you give one of these trails a shot. Each is easy, short, and offers plenty of privacy so you can try out this hiking thing without feeling too self-conscious.

Tip: Click the hike title for a link to its EveryTrail review and be sure to scroll to the bottom right corner of the EveryTrail page for driving directions.

You can so totally do this. I promise.

You can so totally do this. I promise.

South Central Valley: Judith Tunnell Trail in South Mountain

This is a barrier free trail. Which means it’s wheelchair friendly. I was sure to include wheelchair-friendly hikes in every chapter of my book and I regret that I did not feature this one (2nd edition, here we come!) because it really is lovely. The trail is beautifully paved and was totally deserted when I explored it with my family a few weeks ago. At just 1.3 miles total with only a few small inclines (inclines that would totally make my arms fall off if I were in a wheelchair, btw), this hike amounts to a leisurely stroll if you’re a walking person. It also features plenty of benches and shaded structures with educational plaques to help pass the time.

West Valley: Black Rock Loop in White Tank Mountain Regional Park (Free admission on National Take a Hike Day!)

Flat. Short. Deserted. Easy. There’s not much holding you back from trying this trail out. And it has two options: The Long Loop at 1.2 miles and the Short Loop at 0.5 mile. Yes, you can take as much time as you want on this little-known trail that simply walks through the flat desert around a couple large black rocks. Your biggest challenge will be avoiding the cholla that surrounds the trail.

Central Valley: Mohave Trail 200 in Phoenix Mountains Preserve

Okay, so if you haven’t been to the gym lately (And why would you? Too many judgmental eyes!), this one might be a little tough. But who cares when you can openly curse your burning lungs and take as many breaks as you wish because there’s no one around to silently mock you? I’ve hiked Mohave five or six times and I think I’ve seen one other person on the trail. I assume it’s because everyone else is busy killing themselves by hiking up the neighboring Piestewa Peak. Mohave is only 0.6 mile up a mere 300 feet to a tiny perch that offers a spectacular view to South Mountain and the city below. After soaking up the scenery, you make an easy descent back to the trail head to total a scant 1.2 mile.

Blevins is so beautiful, it's CRAY.

Blevins is so beautiful, it’s CRAY.

East Valley: Blevins to Cat Peaks Loop in Usery Mountain Regional Park (Free admission on National Take a Hike Day!)

I recently took my sister-in-law on this hike in the east valley to prove to her that I wouldn’t force her into anything too hard-core. It worked. We enjoyed a breezy, 3-mile walk on the flat terrain of this desert trail that is off the radar for hikers. If you can walk across a parking lot, you can easily manage this trail. The only human contact you’ll have is with the locals who choose to enjoy this trail on horseback. So even if you’re working up a sweat, there’s no shame. At least you’re not making an animal do the heavy lifting.

North Valley: Sears-Kay Ruin Loop in Tonto National Forest

This one requires a bit of a drive. But consider the distance your insurance policy against the peering eyes of health elitists who might cruelly judge your muffin top (jerks!). At just 1 mile total, this little loop is one of my all-time favorites. You’re out in the middle of nowhere, climbing a small hill, and touring the ruins of a 900-year-old Hohokam village. With plenty of informational plaques, you’ll have all the excuses you need to take breaks between breaths (this one’s great for kids, too).

Have a happy National Take a Hike Day, everyone!