Friday, April 6, 2007

Regional Parks

Maricopa County (where Phoenix is) has the "largest regional park system in the United States." We lucky Arizonans have a choice of ten wilderness areas in which to enjoy the great desert outdoors. They form a ring around the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, so no matter where you live, a regional park is close to you. Eight of these parks have hiking trails, some of them barrier-free. There are picnic sites, horseback riding, rodeo arenas, boating and fishing, ramadas, and playgrounds, too. Many of the parks have ranger-led hikes throughout the year on which knowledgable rangers address all sorts of topics. Some have special holiday events. We particularly enjoyed a nighttime hike this past Christmas Eve along a trail in White Tank Mountain park which was lined with luminarias. There is a $5 per vehicle entrance fee, but you can buy an annual pass for only $75, good at every park except Lake Pleasant. Visit to match specific activities to parks.

A partial list of tomorrow's scheduled special events may give you an idea of some of the things there are to do in the regional parks:

McDowell Mountain: a 55-mile Endurance Mountain Bike Ride, from 6 AM to 6PM.
Usery Mountain: a 2-mile "Looking for Lizards" hike, for ages 7-10, begins at 9 AM.
White Tanks Mountain: a 2-mile Waterfall Trail Interpretive Hike, from 9 AM to 11 AM.
Estrella Mountain : a one-hour "Rocks in the Head" geology walk, 9 AM - 10 AM.
Spur Cross Ranch: "Rocks and Streams," a 2-hour easy walk learning about the geology and streams of the area with earth science author Thomas McGuire.
Estrella Mountain: a "Full Moon" hike, from 7 - 9 PM, along the Toothaker Trail.

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