“A tough trail with lots of climbing and beautiful views.”
— Doug Baer
Views · Wildlife
This loop is not very crowded and there are good views from the saddles. Many people turn around at the first saddle since the trail becomes more of a drainage or wildlife trail than a developed trail at that point. It remains that way until it joins back up with the Pass Mountain Trail
near the second saddle.
Need to Know
There is no signage besides a few cairns and a bit of wayfinding and backtracking may be required in order to stay on track once you get past the saddle. If you complete the loop clockwise, look carefully at the track where it diverges from the Pass Mountain Trail
—it is really easy to miss the small cairn at the base of a small tree if you're not looking in the right place at the right time. You're pretty much in direct sun the whole way, especially between the saddles. Bring plenty of water and sunscreen.
Due to the large amount of scree, steepness of the trail, and frequent difficulty in path selection in the area between the saddles, fast running is really challenging. Even if you are an experienced trail runner, plan for slow going and carry enough water. This trail is very primitive, and there is no water available.
This trail is great if you like a challenge and don't like crowds. In my book, however, it is just "good" for trail running because I was not able to run as much as I like and spent more time speed-hiking due to the terrain (that, and not wanting to fall on my face!)
I am in the Pass Mountain Trail
area quite a bit and wanted to see what this trail looked like. I have never seen any signs, but I have seen people on it. So, I set out one day to map this loop, and here we are. I was there in early spring, and the wildflowers had not bloomed much yet, but I suspect there would be some good color out here after some rain. On my trip, it felt pretty hot even though the thermometer reported only around 87 degrees.
You can access this trail if you park at the end of N. Meridian Dr. and catch the trail from the parking area there. When the trail forks just above the parking lot, stay left on Bulldog Canyon Alternate Trail
to complete this loop. (You can also go to the right on Bulldog Saddle Trail
if you prefer as they join up before the climb). Once the trails merge, you'll be on Bulldog Saddle Trail
Follow this up to the saddle and continue north onto Peak 3004 Loop Trail
. Be prepared to look out for cairns and possibly make some wrong turns and need to backtrack. At least a third of this loop seems to be VERY lightly trafficked, undeveloped and not well-maintained. Follow the Peak 3004 Loop Trail
around the north side of the mountain. This section of the route is pretty remote but be on the lookout for backpackers who may be camping on the north side of the peak. After the trail turns and heads south for a bit, it joins up with Pass Mountain Trail
. Take a right to head south on Pass Mountain Trail
until almost the end of the run. Take a left onto Pass Mountain Connector
which is a short wash connector to Bulldog Canyon Alternate Trail
. Follow Bulldog Canyon Alternate Trail
back to the parking area to finish your run.
As a run this was only "good" but as far as hiking goes, this would be a solid 4 stars because of the views, remote feel, and challenge.
Flora & Fauna
Typical Sonoran desert wildlife.