After all the rain and chilly weather here in Mesa, Az finally passed through we decided it was time to drive out of the city and do a little hiking. We had heard a lot about the trails in nearly Usery Mountain Regional Park so we decided to head out that way and check it out. Usery Regional Park is one of several regional parks in the Phoenix area. After a short 30 minute drive from town we were in the rolling hills covered in typical Sonoran desert vegetation.
There is a charge of $6.00 per vehicle to enter the park and to be honest I really hate to have to pay just to go on a hike. But since we heard good things about this park so we ponied up the six bucks and found a small lot to park in. We found a short one mile hike was near where we parked so we walked along the Merkle Trail then took the spur on the Vista trail which put us on top of a small hill with a great view.
Usery Regional Park boasts having over 29 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding and this is a beautiful Maricopa County Park. Now it is a bit confusing with it being called Usery Mountain Regional Park since the mountain here is Pass Mountain. The Usery Mountains are actually northwest of this park. The photo I took with the large "Phoenix and Arrow” in white stones is actually on the Usery Mountain. I really doubt there is any hiking near there as there is a huge Fish and Game shooting range there. We heard nonstop shooting the entire time we hiked.
After doing the one mile hike we drove over to the trailhead for the Wind Cave trail. This 3.2 miles (out and back) trail starts at 2000 ft. and we climbed an additional 800 feet from there.Another great hike here is the Pass Mountain Trail which junctions off of this trail. The well marked trail started out easy as it gently ascended through typical Sonoran desert vegetation toward the top of Pass Mountain. After a half mile or so the trail steepened quite a bit and we continued to climb until we entered a beautiful green lichen covered escarpment.
At this cliff we hiked a short (not so steep) trail to the sign that pointed left to Wind Cave. The cave itself is really unimpressive as it is really just a shallow alcove. However, there was a magnificent bee hive just above the cave that was buzzing with activity. We sat and admired the bees' handiwork as their hive looked like a brain to me and like a cool bicycle helmet to Sharon. From this point we could have hiked further up to the top of Pass Mountain but it was getting late so we decided to head back down the way we came.
We both felt this was a nice exhilarating hike and it sure was great to be out of the urban sprawl and see a bit of nature. Lots of classic Sonoran desert plants and birds were enjoyed by us we crept up and then back down the mountain… The landscape was beautiful and the colors were ever changing from early to late afternoon so we paused several moments throughout the hike to take in the beauty. What a great day!