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From the Field: BACKPACKER Trail Scouts’ Top Western Local Hikes

From a panoramic hike above Sin City and Lake Mead to a slot canyon adventure in Utah, our scouts provide trail beta.

South Mountain Loop, South Mountain Park/Preserve, AZ
Erich Braun, Phoenix, AZ

Escape the city on this challenging 13.4-mile route just minutes from downtown Phoenix. Hiking east from the Holbert trailhead, look left immediately to spot Hohokam petroglyphs of mountain sheep etched into the desert varnish 100 feet above the trail (binocs recommended); watch for more on boulders near mile 1. At mile 2.9, follow a paved road a mile to 2,660-foot Gila Valley Lookout for sweeping downtown views. Pass marquee Sonoran species like saguaro cactus and elephant trees as you close the loop. Trip ID 34936

“Look for foot-long chuckwalla lizards on rocky outcrops.”

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