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Southwestern USA Hiking Trails including Scottsdale, Phoenix, Northern Arizona


Ballentine Trail - Tonto National Forest


Directions: From Fountain Hills take AZ87 (Beeline) north towards Payson, AZ for 21.5 miles. Turn right at the sign that leads directly into the dirt parking area.

About the hike: Ballantine Trail is a 6.6 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Fountain Hills, Arizona. The trail is rated as moderate with an elevation gain of 1506 feet. The hike is dog and bike friendly. This is a good hike to view the wildflowers. They should start blooming late February into March.

When I hiked I chose the left trailhead because it was less steep then going right and ran along the highway for 1/8 mile before turning east (right turn) heading up the mountain. Hiking 1/2 mile up the trail you're rewarded with a beautiful overlook of the Tonto National Forest Mountain range.

Unfortunately, last year was a dry year so the wildflowers were few and far between in May.

As I hiked along I came upon a cluster of fairy dusters bringing back childhood

memories. As a child, I would blow on them to see how many children I would have when I grew up. Thank goodness it wasn't accurate since at least 8 - 10 were left on the stem every time.

As we wandered up the trail we came upon my favorite Yucca plant.

The desert spoon yucca looks innocent but the leaves are armed with small, sharp, marginal teeth.

The trail continued along the ridgeline providing beautiful views to the northeast. Continuing on, the trail wraps around heading south back towards the trailhead.

At the midway point, you'll reach a trail marker showing additional trail routes you can take from this point. For today I chose to continue along the Ballantine trail. Ascending downward the saguaros were in full bloom,

remember April is the right time to catch them blooming. Because I did this hike the first week of May some of the blooms were beginning to die off.

No matter which direction we were hiking, the views were an amazing

display of the openness of the beautiful southwestern desert. The key things to remember is this hike is 6.6 miles so bring plenty of water, a snack, and good hiking shoes. One thing I keep in my back-pack is an old CD. The reason is if something happens it's a great tool to use to flash against the sun in case someone is trying to locate you. This is a rather remote hike so bring a hiking buddy and be safe and have fun. Happy trails!

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