Early February 2022: Phoenix Hikes

Family and friends,

Steven and I had never been ‘snowbirds’ before but as we’ve gotten older, the cold and snow of Denver’s winters have been less appealing even though they’re far milder than in my native Ottawa. A year ago, we decided to see what it would be like to spend the month of February in Phoenix after seeing a beautiful two-bedroom townhome in one of Phoenix’s northern suburbs. After just a few days in the much warmer temperatures, we were hooked and almost immediately began thinking we wanted this to be an annual escape. As Steven and I’ve always been avid hikers though recently of less strenuous ones than in our younger days, Phoenix was an ideal getaway as it had more hiking destinations than any city I knew of.

Click here to read in a nicer format on our main blog. https://bergersadventures8.blogspot.com/2022/03/early-february-2022-phoenix-hikes.html

All the best to you and your loved ones, Annie

A year ago January, Steven and I rented a large two-bedroom townhome for this February in Phoenix’s northern suburbs to get away from Denver’s much chillier weather. After driving about 850 miles, we strolled around the subdivision on our first night admiring the many different varieties of cacti some of the residents had planted.

2/3: As our older son, his wife, and 20-month-old daughter, Max, were coming to stay with us later in the month for five nights, we wanted to scope out nearby parks and playgrounds. I was sure that the playground coverings at Buffalo Ridge Park would be essential in the broiling summer heat when temperatures are often in excess of 110 degrees. 

The park also had a fairly extensive system of trails and a disc golf course that was quite popular.

Some sort of open-pit mine was just feet from the park. We watched briefly heavy equipment trucks making trips on the dirt road. 

Just a short walk from our ‘home’ for February was Grover Basin Park which we thought Max would love playing at when she came.

All the homes bordering the park had ‘boring’ matching fences and cinderblock walls between the neighbors except this very colorful one that was so cheerful!

2/4: After picking up our younger son who flew into Phoenix for the weekend to celebrate his 30th birthday with us, we all went hiking at Piestewa Peak, the second-highest point in the Phoenix Mountains. Located in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, the peak was named in honor of Army Spc. Lori Ann Piestewa, 1979 –2003, a member of the Hopi tribe, the first known Native American woman to die in combat in the U.S. military, and the first female soldier to be killed in action in the 2003 Iraq War.

The mountain had been known previously as Squaw Peak and Squaw Tit Mountain. As the term “squaw” was considered demeaning by many, numerous efforts to change the name of the mountain were made through the years with the State Board on Geographic and Historic Names. After initially refusing to do so, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names voted to approve the name change to Piestewa Peak, while indicating that the original name of Squaw Peak might still be used in publications as a secondary reference.

Signs indicated no water was available on the trail and that dehydration is a common and serious problem with hikers who come unprepared, especially in the intense summer heat.

In the distance was downtown Phoenix.

The trail was exceedingly popular, possibly because of its proximity to downtown Phoenix. Since we later found an incredible number of places to hike in Phoenix, I wouldn’t want to return to Piestewa Peak because it was literally hard to take a few steps before encountering other hikers on the trail. That’s not my idea of fun while hiking.

IF we’d made it all the way to the summit we might have had views from the summit of Pinnacle Peak, the McDowell Mountains, Four Peaks, the Superstition Mountains, Tabletop Mountain, the Sierra Estrella, Woolsey Peak, the White Tank Mountains, the Harquahala Mountains, the Papago Mountains, the Hieroglyphic Mountains, and the Bradshaw Mountains. Phew – what a mouthful!

There were some difficult, steep switchbacks on the challenging but very rewarding Piestewa Peak Summit Trail. Steven and I gave up short of the summit because the trail got considerably harder due to the 1,200-foot elevation gain but our son made it all the way.

2/6: A few days later, the three of us went hiking in the Sonoran Preserve at Apache Wash Trailhead.

Although we were hiking on the Ocotillo Trail, we only spotted lots of cholla and saguaro cacti right away.

Like so many of the trails in the mountains surrounding Phoenix, this one was a magnet for cyclists.

At last, the trail’s namesake cactus:

If we’d been at Apache Trailhead a few weeks later, I was pretty well sure that many of the cacti would have been flowering.

If you click on the photo below, you’ll read more clearly that the sign warned hikers to be careful of crossing the wash when lots of water was present.

It was hard to imagine the wash might be dangerous sometimes as it looked so peaceful and safe.

Crossing through another wash reminded me how much I preferred these far easier trails than those with steep switchbacks and a lot of elevation. Guess I’m getting old!

2/7: The three of us enjoyed hiking or rather walking, at the Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden in the Phoenix Sonoran Reserve.

How fortunate these homeowners were to have such a beautiful place to look at every day.

There were several palo verde trees in the park, which were Arizona’s state trees. Even though we’d seen many of them before, their bright green trunk still struck as strange.

Translated from Spanish as ‘green stick,’ the tree’s branches remain green year-round which allows the tree to appear evergreen even when the leaves have been shed in summer drought or the winter.

Scottsdale’s Old Adobe Mission was also known as Our Lady of Perpetual Hope Catholic Church.

The potted flowers were almost psychedelic compared to the very muted colors we were used to while hiking 

Scottsdale’s main street was a little like an Old West town!

Next post: The Desert Botanical Garden and its colorful Chihuly glass sculptures.

Posted on March 7th, 2022, from home in Denver. My thanks to my friend Janina for encouraging me to keep writing posts about our travels even as it seems that almost every moment of my time is consumed with planning for our upcoming trips to Hawaii later this month, and a mammoth, summer-long road trip in May. Yes, I know – such trivial issues to deal with when compared with the travesty and tragedy going on in Ukraine.


4 thoughts on “Early February 2022: Phoenix Hikes

  1. What a good idea to spend your February here! That’s a month when we like to get away too, as by then we’re always fed up with winter and can’t wait for spring. Going somewhere warmer like this makes it seem to come a bit sooner 😀


    1. I agree on all accounts, Sarah, with the need to get away from the winter doldrums for a month in the sun. Phoenix was a perfect location for us in terms of distance from home, reasonable rental prices, incredible hiking opportunities, etc. Within days of our being in Phoenix last month, we rented another place for next February. I can see that becoming habit-forming!


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