There are restrooms in the main parking lot. Carry plenty of water.
There are three access points to this trail. I prefer to park on 36th street, about 0.3 miles from the trailhead. You can be sure of getting a parking spot at this location. Alternative access is at the 32nd Street parking lot, and the main Piestewa Peak parking lot. Those lots are usually full on weekends, though, so I keep my stress low by going to 36th Street.
The trail starts on the Ruth Hamilton Trail #8B
, named in memory of one of the advocates who made the preserves possible. This section is quite gentle and friendly. When you cross Trail 8A (Quartz Ridge Trail #8A
), the going gets a little tougher. From this junction, continue on Trail 8B for the counterclockwise loop. The trail climbs in earnest to the first pass, and then begins the long descent to the Piestewa main parking lot and trailhead. Shortly before the parking lot, Trail 8B ends at an intersection with Piestewa Peak Nature Trail #304
. Follow 304 to the parking lot, where there are restrooms.
Leaving the parking lot at the end of the road, continue down the parking lot road to the first picnic area on the left. From here, Mohave Trail #200
heads up the hill to the left. At the first pass, there is a junction of three trails. Mohave Trail #200
heads southwest, to the summit of an unnamed peak, while Mohave Connector Trail #202
(200A on some maps) heads down the valley in the general direction of the 32nd Street parking lot, and your preferred route starts switchbacking enthusiastically up the hill to the left. It takes you directly over the first summit, and then down. This trail is not numbered, but it is maintained and marked on many maps.
Past the summit, and part way down the hill, you can see a long, straight section traversing the side of the hill, a good choice if you are getting a little tired, as it cuts off the next summit. This traverse is also marked on many maps. If you have the energy, though, bear left at the unsigned junction, and head up to the next pass, around back and then up to the top of the next summit. Views to the south here are unobstructed. From this summit, the trail switchbacks steeply down along the southern nose of the ridge, until it rejoins the easier trail.
Continue down, first intersecting Mohave Connector Trail #202
, following it left, and then bearing generally east until you intersect Trail 8A climbing up from the 32nd Street parking. From the intersection, follow the valley north and east, eventually climbing up to the pass, and Trail 8B, which you came in on. Trail 8A is heavily traveled, but everyone I met on that trail was nice and polite. Reaching the pass and intersection with 8B, there is a nice bench. Take a break, have a drink, and then head right to return to 36th street.
As usual in this desert, beware of the Cholla cactus. Merely brush one of these and you have a little porcupine stuck to you. Carry a pair of tweezers. Theoretically, there are rattlesnakes and scorpions, but I have yet to see any out here.