Hiking For Families – Upcoming Presentation

This family is extremely fertile.

This family is extremely fertile.

Isn’t that family cute?

Bring your cute family this Saturday to the North Mountain Visitor Center where I’ll be presenting my list of recommended trails in the area that are great for families.

Family Hiking by Lilia Menconi

Saturday, March 7, 9:30 a.m.

North Mountain Visitor Center: 12950 N 7th St, Phoenix, AZ 85029

After the presentation, be sure to stick around for a chance to meet other local authors. I’ll have books available for sale and signing. Hope to see you there!

The February 20’s Are Almost Here

A professional lady reflects on her busy professional life on her after-work hike.

A professional lady reflects on her busy professional life on her hike after a long day of being a professional.

Every year, I get very excited for February 20th. Because in Phoenix, this means the sun starts setting after 6 p.m.

And for a professional lady (by position, not personality) like me, this means I get to hike after work.

In the winter months, the sun is sadly setting during my commute home and there’s no realistic chance that I’ll get out on a trail before dark. So I’m limited to weekend hikes only and that is not helping my postpartum body image AT ALL.

But starting at the February 20’s, I can hike every night if I want to!

And you can, too. Here are my tips for getting the most out of evening hikes in the February 20’s (and through the spring).

Start Planning. Circle February 20th on your calendar and spend the next few weeks figuring out which trail(s) will work best for you. Visit them on the weekends so you become familiar with them in advance.

Consider Location. I’ve found that choosing a trailhead that’s close to the workplace (which may not be close to home) is best. This minimizes the drive time while the precious sun is still up.

Don’t Get Crazy. The average hiking rate on a moderate trail for an adult is 2 miles per hour. So don’t get over-ambitious with the mileage because it gets dark quick out there, friends.

Do The Math. Barbara hikes at 2.3 miles per hour. If the sun sets at 6:17 p.m. and Barbara arrives at the trailhead at 5:05 p.m., how many miles can she hike before the sun goes down? (You’ll want to do similar calculations for yourself.)

Get the Gear. When you leave your house in the morning, grab your gear (backpack, hiking clothes, water bottle, and shoes). As soon as you’re off the clock, it’s time to get naked.

Get Naked. Having to change your clothes away from home is the big drawback here. You’re either changing clothes at a workplace bathroom risking spandexed-butt exposure to co-workers or you’re changing clothes in your car at a trailhead risking indecent exposure. Take your pick.

Give It Up. If work runs late and you don’t get out the door in time, abandon your plans. Maybe go for a jog around your neighborhood instead. Hiking in the dark can be dangerous on steep or unfamiliar trails. Don’t get stupid.

Be Safe. I have to say this: Know the trail, pack plenty of water (1L for every 2 miles), and tell someone where you’re hiking.

Don’t know where to go? Leave me a comment, tell me where you work, and I’ll find something for ya.

Like this? Want more? Buy my book!

Maternity Hiking: Marcus Landslide Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Things get super pretty right away on the Marcus Landslide Trail.

Things get super pretty right away on the Marcus Landslide Trail.

On the heels of my recent hiking accomplishment to Tom’s Thumb, we made another visit to the area to explore a decidedly less challenging, less popular, and just as beautiful trail called the Marcus Landslide Trail.

This interpretive 4-mile jaunt was stunning. With only 575 feet in elevation gain spread over 4 miles, it feels flat for most of the trail. We looked at rock formations, read the educational signs about the landscape, and enjoyed a clear-shot view to Four Peaks during the entire hike.

No snakes, no wind, and no fear-filled fantasies this time around. Just good hikin’ and good conversation. Bring a friend or a kid on this hike to really enjoy it. You won’t meet many other people on this one!

Shrooms.

Shrooms.

Marcus Landslide Trail

Distance: 4 miles

Elevation Gain: 575 feet

Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Pregnancy Difficulty: Moderate/Strenuous

Location: Tom’s Thumb Trailhead in McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Online Map & Driving Directions (click the link and scroll to bottom of page for Google map driving directions)

Easy enough, eh?

Easy enough, eh?

Description:

From the Tom’s Thumb trailhead and parking lot, enter the trail system at the signed Marcus Landslide trail, located on the southeast end of the parking lot (before you reach the shaded structure with the bathrooms).

Follow the trail east as it traces a wide, flat path. The many trail signs along the way will keep you on the right path as you pass Caballo and Feldspar Trails in the first half mile. At about 0.5 mile, the trail will veer right (southeast) and continue this direction until it bumps into the McDowell Mountain Regional Park border.

Simply stay the course and follow the signs for Marcus Landslide Trail heading south until 1.7 miles when you reach the Marcus Landslide Loop Trail. Trace the loop for about half a mile and it spits you right back out onto the Marcus Landslide Trail where you can begin your return leg.

You’ll encounter a few spurs here and there where you will discover informative signs like the one pictured below. Soak it up. Education is a good thing.

Excellent question.

Excellent question.

Like this? Want more? Buy my book!

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

Maternity Hike: Trail 100/101 to North Mountain

These trails have existed for a long time but this combination was new to me!

These trails have existed for a long time but this combination was new to me!

With the limited energy, small bladder, and cardio deficiency I’m experiencing during this pregnancy, I’ve been on the hunt for trails under three miles that still offer a little bit of climbing.

Oh, and if there’s a bathroom at the trailhead, that’s a sure-fire winner.

The Phoenix Mountains Preserve just keeps delivering. Armed with my Green Trails Map, I’m having a blast scouting out “new” trails (combinations I haven’t yet explored) and then heading out for a new adventure.

My newest adventure once again taps the main artery of the Phoenix Mountains Preserve: Trail 100.

When Trail 101 meets the North Mountain summit trail (Trail 44 - paved), the maternity hike is over. But the non-maternity hike can keep going!

When Trail 101 meets the North Mountain summit trail (Trail 44 – paved), the maternity hike is over. But the non-maternity hike can keep going!

This one begins in a popular area near the North Mountain Visitor Center, passes by Shaw Butte to the west, then follows a little-known trail on the north side of North Mountain. This quiet area is a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of the surrounding popular trails. The hike ends at the intersection with the North Mountain Summit Trail. And aside from the yellow flags indicating sites where irresponsible hikers left their dog’s waste (oh, come ON, people!) the hike was glorious on a breezy spring day.

See how it all fits together? You could make all kinds of delicious trail combinations yum yum!

See how it all fits together? You could make all kinds of delicious trail combinations yum yum!

Trail 100/101 to North Mountain

Distance: 2.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 225 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pregnancy Difficulty: Moderate

Location: North Mountain Visitor Center (North Mountain/Shaw Butte) in Phoenix Mountains Preserve

Online Map & Driving Directions (click the link and scroll to bottom of page for Google map driving directions)

Description:

To start the hike, find the signs to Trail 100 on the south side of the North Mountain Visitor Center building. Head west along Trail 100. At 0.3 mile, Trail 100 and Trail 306 combine and you’ll follow the shared trail south. When you encounter a small clearing with a bench (at 0.6 mile total), see the trail marker for Trail 101. Hang a left to follow Trail 101 southeast to start a subtle ascent that slowly intensifies.

At about 1.1 mile total, you have an elevated view of 7th Street below. Turn right to continue along Trail 101 following the correct trail signs (do NOT take the trail that heads north as it is clearly signed as a closed area). You’ll continue to climb until you reach the paved road that marks the intersection with Trail 44 (North Mountain Summit Trail) at 1.2 miles. Turn around here and enjoy your descent as you retrace your steps to the North Mountain Visitor Center for a total of 2.4 miles.

Option for non-pregnant people: Instead of turning around, take Trail 44 to the summit of North Mountain! This will add 350 feet (give or take) in just 0.7 mile on the way up. The trail is wide, paved, and easy to follow to the summit which is littered with large, metal towers. You’ll certainly get a FINE workout from this addition that creates a total hike of 3.8 miles with 575 feet of elevation gain. Just don’t forget to turn off of Trail 44 to return to Trail 101 on the way down!

Like this? Want more? Buy my book!

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

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.

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!

Dixie Mine Trail in McDowell Mountain Regional Park

Well, gosh, I guess I could write a straight trail review for once, eh?

This hike is filled with quite little desert places.

This hike is filled with quite little desert places.

Dixie Mine Trail in McDowell Regional Park

Distance: 5.4 miles out & back

Cumulative Elevation Gain: 600 feet (or so)

Time: 2 hours-ish

The McDowell Mountains does it again!

This is just the latest trail in the McDowell Mountains that I’ve fallen for. This beautiful hike starts in a private neighborhood, strolls through the foothills of the McDowell Mountain range, and ends at the Dixie Mine. The hike is located on the southwest corner of the McDowell Mountain Regional Park and is accessed via a small park entrance. The trailhead is a small parking lot (with bathrooms) in a quiet neighborhood.

This trail is awesome!

This trail is awesome!

Start the hike by following the well-marked sidewalk path through the neighborhood for the first half mile or so. This idea turned me off at first but don’t let it sway you! It’s a nice little walk and the hike is totally worth it.

See? It's not so bad.

See? It’s not so bad.

After following signs and crossing a residential street, enter the desert and pay the $2 fee at the kiosk to enter the park. Be sure to grab a map. Then simply follow the Dixie Mine Trail for the next 2+ miles. The trail is easy to follow with frequent trail signs.

This is what the mine looks like. Pass by it then take the dirt road up to the top.

This is what the mine looks like. Pass by it then take the dirt road up to the top.

When you encounter a wide service dirt road at about 2.4 miles, turn right to continue along the Dixie Mine Trail.* You’ll pass a large pile of rock and sand marking the site of the mine. Keep an eye out for a sharp left turn to follow another service dirt road up to the mine itself which is a deep hole in the rock floor covered by a metal grate.

(We accidentally followed a shortcut [oops] that was trailblazed which I feel TERRIBLE about so please avoid that small trail and look for the dirt road.)

That’s it! When ready, retrace your steps back to the trailhead.

That's Kristina. Mine-ing her own business.

That’s Kristina. Mine-ing her own business.

This trail is NOT featured in my book, Take a Hike Phoenix, but is a strong contender for the book’s 2nd edition which will be released sometime in the next 4 years or so.

Get an interactive map and more details on my everytrail.com review. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page and use the Google map tool for driving directions.

*Optional directions that make this hike 10x more awesome (but aren’t shown on the map above)

Wow, it really pays to have friends on the trail. My darling hiking buddy recently contacted me to describe an alternate route that leads to the mine entrance, petroglyphs, caves, and a waterfall (if it’s been raining). Whatever!

Here’s how to do it: Follow the trail as described above. After making a right turn on the service road to follow Dixie Mine Trail, look to the left for a small trail that enters a canyon and travels under a canopy of riparian-area trees (can’t miss them — it’s the only leafy vegetation for miles). Follow the trail along the canyon floor. Look to the right for the signed entrance to Dixie Mine. Continue and see petroglyphs (and some graffiti…grrr) to your left. You’ll see caves speckled throughout your walk. Though the trail continues, my pal ended her adventure when she reached a sheer rock wall that may or may not be a waterfall depending on recent weather. All of this happens in about 1/2 mile from the turn into the canyon.

Your body is a riparian wonderland.

Your body is a riparian wonderland.

That's a fine friend right there.

That’s a fine friend right there.

Clearly, adding this option is a must-do…and it’s a great excuse for me to revisit this hike!