“The most popular trail in the park provides beautiful views and a good climbing workout.”
— Doug Baer
As with the other trails in this park, this one is closed after dark. It can be treacherous, so obey the rule.
Features: Cave — Views
Don't expect to run this on holidays or weekends unless the weather is hot enough to scare away the crowds. If I am seriously running this one, I try to hit it an hour or two before sunset or, even better, just at sunrise when the park opens.
The climbing workout is excellent, but having to constantly stop and wait for crowds to pass becomes tiresome. Watch out for gravel, especially on the descents. In the rain, the limestone gets really slippery. Use the Pass Mountain Trail
for a longer run, better views and fewer people, but this is still a good climb up to the saddle on the east side of the mountain.
If you're looking for a truly solitary outing, consider the east side trails that don't get much traffic at all: Ruidoso Trail County Line Trail
, and Meridian Trail
In my experience, this is the most popular trail in the park. The upper half of the trail is steeper and a bit more difficult than the lower half: you switch pretty quickly from gradual climbing to what feels a lot like many flights of stairs before cutting across the face of the mountain and then climbing more "stairs" up to the cave.
The "cave" at the end of this trail is not so much a dark, cavernous hole full of bats or anything that dramatic. This cave is about 10 to 12 feet high and is more like a gash carved out of the side of the mountain. It provides welcome shade in the summer, and a place to catch your breath before beginning the descent. The scenery is excellent on clear days, and you can even see the Fountain Hills fountain shooting water into the sky if you're up there at the right time.
Take a minute to get a drink and snack, enjoy the view, then make sure your shoes are laced tight before starting back down. Remember the uphill runner has the right of way.
Flora & Fauna
Typical Sonoran desert cacti, lizards, the occasional snake, horned toad or desert tortoise. In early mornings, look for deer and listen for coyote in the evening. Ocotillo, saguaro, prickly pear, and a few trees.