Granite Mountain Loop
Directions: From Fountain Hills it's 18.5 miles. Take E McDowell Mountain Rd and E Rio Verde Dr to N 136th St. The trail parking lot is 2 miles down 136th street on your left
Hike Details: Granite Mountain is a moderately trafficked 5.1-mile loop trail with an elevation gain of 400 feet. This trail is rated as easy.
About the hike - Starting out on the trail, I noticed the huge electrical towers close to the trailhead. Luckily the trail immediately turns north (right) heading away from them.
The first thing I noticed about this hike were the smooth hiking paths. Dogs are allowed on leash and I think they’ll really enjoy the trail. The main reason is that there are not many loose rocks or pebbles to bother them.
My favorite time to hike is early in the morning, and this morning in mid-February I started out at 7:00 am. I only passed one other hiker during the first hour of my hike. A pack of coyotes started howling spooking me a bit. I realized I headed out this morning without double checking my camelback had the appropriate gear. Normally I carry protection but this morning I forgot to include it in my pack. Having been hiking in Arizona for the last 15 years I’ve learned a few protection tricks from other hikers. In my camelback, I carry an old DVD. The purpose of the DVD is to use it as a reflector against the sun if you get lost. I also carry a fine tooth comb which can be used to get cactus needles out of you or your furry hiking buddy, pepper spray just in case you come across an aggressive wild animal, and lastly a rattlesnake bite kit, which I’ve never had to use, thank goodness!
About a quarter mile into the hike I was smitten as the trail started weaving around huge boulders sprinkled with Saguaro cacti. You'll come to trail marker GM-3 which points left towards Saddlehorn trail. This is the way I hiked which eventually looped me back to the trailhead.
Much to my delight, there was a male and female cardinal feeding on a berry bush as a hiked around the boulder. I wasn't quite quick enough with my camera to catch both of them but I did get a shot of the male cardinal.
Seeing these two cardinals set the theme for the remainder of my hike. I decided to focus my attention on capturing as many birds as I could while I hiked.
A little further up the trail, I spotted a couple of bird nests. My favorite though was this one tucked safely away in a Cholla cactus. Continuing up the trail, the poppies and lupine were sprinkled among the Teddy bear Cholla and Saguaros. The McDowell Mountains provided the perfect backdrop.
The birds were singing and in particular, this Phainopepla was singing the loudest of all the birds.
It's funny after I took his picture I swear he was following me down the trail. I came upon several American Robins perched in a tree and while I was taking their picture he flew into the picture frame. I guess he likes the spotlight.
When you come to trail marker GM4 turn left towards Saddlehorn trail and Powerline Road #2, this will end at the trailhead parking lot.
As I was finishing up my hike several mountain bikers rode by. I think this trail would be perfect for mountain biking even for a novice mountain biker like me.
As the trail continued to wind back towards the trailhead I was delighted by the wildflowers.
Finishing up my hike I gazed off towards the east and was awarded with this incredible view. I said at the beginning of my blog, I was smitten with this hike from the beginning and equally smitten at the end. I hope you'll enjoy hiking this trail as much as I have. Happy Trails!