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Maricopa Trail: Usery Mountain Visitor's Center to Bulldog

Intermediate
  4.0 ( 1 ) Favorite

Trail

13.1 mile 21.1 kilometer out and back
98% Runnable
Intermediate

Elevation

Ascent: 1,079' 329 m
Descent: -1,079' -329 m
High: 2,361' 720 m
Low: 1,853' 565 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 3% (2°)
Max Grade: 13% (7°)

Dogs

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Trail shared by Doug Baer

A series of trails that are easy to run with some less traveled portions.

Doug Baer

Features Views · Wildlife

Parking at the Usery Mountain Park Visitor's Center requires paying $7 park fee.

Overview

This is the "official" section of the Maricopa Trail within Usery Mountain Park. The terminus of the trail is at the Visitor's Center, at the end of the Lost Sheep Trail, but I use it here as the starting point since I have an annual pass to the Maricopa Parks (as opposed to a Tonto Pass needed to park at the Bulldog trailhead) that is my end of line for this run.

Be prepared for some traffic (MTB and a other runners at the beginning, but that thins out a lot once you break off the Pass Mountain Trail for the final push which is, thankfully, downhill!

Need to Know

Take plenty of water, especially in the summer. Don't start in the middle of the day: there is pretty much zero shade on this route.

Runner Notes

This is a very runnable way to link up trails in the park.

Description

This trail is very well signed while you are on trails within the Usery Mountain Park. It gets a little less so as you cross into the Tonto National Forest. Just follow the "Maricopa Trail" signs and the little arrows pasted on them and you'll be fine. The two places that might be confusing are the parking lot crossing at the Horse Staging Area—the junction between the Blevins Trail and the Pass Mountain Trail—and a half a kilometer off the Pass Mountain Trail towards Bulldog parking where I swear there WAS a sign but there is just a cairn at a fork in the trail. Stay to the right.

This trail collection starts out from the Visitor's Center on the new Lost Sheep Trail, which is graded for mountain bikes and has quite a bit of traffic on it. Continuing on (stay left) to the Moon Rock Trail for a bit and then to Blevins Trail (turn left) to the horse staging area, you cut through and get on the Pass Mountain Trail towards the Wind Cave Trail trailhead, then keep following Pass Mountain Trail onto the Maricopa Trail: Pass Mountain Trail Connector towards the Bulldog parking area. From there, you can continue on along the road up to the Wild Horse Trail to continue your Maricopa Trail journey as far as you'd like to take it.

It is roughly 3 km back to the Visitor's Center along the road if you don't want to run the whole path in reverse to get back to your vehicle.

Flora & Fauna

Typical Sonoran Desert flora and fauna. Lots of Saguaro, various cholla, ocotillo, and other desert plants. Watch for the "fangy" things.

History & Background

This is a new extension into the park (2019) with new signs and maps (thanks to a partnership with REI).

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Contacts

Land Manager: Maricopa County Parks

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  4.0 from 1 vote

#3414

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  4.0 from 1 vote
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#135

in Arizona

#3,414

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Photos

A confusing transition. Look for this sign to the southeast of the permanent toilets and continue on.
Jun 9, 2019 near Apache…, AZ
A bench at the top of the hill. Great view of Fountain Hills ... no shade, though. (Look for the BIG fountain to be going on the hour.)
Jun 9, 2019 near Apache…, AZ
Chainfruit blossoms. When everything else is shriveling up, they come out with the Saguaro blooms.
Jun 9, 2019 near Apache…, AZ
Beautiful views...and another marker
Jun 9, 2019 near Apache…, AZ
Remember to pay the parking fee if you start within the park. Example of the Maricopa Trail badge and arrow that you should follow.
Jun 9, 2019 near Apache…, AZ

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