A week and a half ago, my daughter Katie invited me to hiking with her in Usery Mountain Regional Park, part of the Maricopa County Park system. I’d never been there before, but I knew it was a favorite spot of a friend of mine, so I was happy to accept.
I’ve enjoyed my hikes in South Mountain Park, which I think is gorgeous, but Usery Park is much more beautiful, greener.
As we entered the park, we asked the attendant at the guard house where to find an easy trail for beginners (for me; I’ve only been hiking once since my emergency gall bladder surgery in April, and I wanted level ground). She recommended the Merkle Trail, which circles around a small mountain. We started on that, and immediately came to the Vista Trail, which went up the mountain, followed the ridge, and went down the other side. We decided to try it. The photo above was taken at the top. You can see the Merkle trail on the lower level.
The trail was rough and rocky in spots, but not too steep. There was one short stretch that was strenuous enough to get my heart pounding, but it was doable for an old lady like me. I brought my Sony Cyber-shot instead of my “good” camera, but it did a reasonable job of capturing the beautiful terrain.
Lots of cactus (click on the smaller photos to enlarge):
And we met a little friend. Katie thinks it’s a chuckwalla. I tried to walk around him and take a better picture, but he took off.
Here and there were some big outcroppings of rock.
Painted on the mountains in the distance is an arrow pointing the way to Phoenix. You can see it from the air on the way to Sky Harbor International Airport.
When we came down the mountain, we followed the Merkle Trail back to where we started.
I can’t wait to go back again.