When the Arizona Office of Tourism asked me to blog about summer in Arizona, it was a no brainer. I wanted to choose a topic that is special to me:  a place I visit two-three times a week, where my wife and kids can come along, too— South Mountain! At 16,000 acres, South Mountain is one of the largest parks in the country and it’s right here in our backyard. This park is my choice for exercise, serenity, inspiration and it is where I come up with most of the ideas I use on the radio every morning on Mix 96.9. Not so coincidentally, the radio towers that transmit the signal come from the towers on top of South Mountain.  

There is  are plenty of hiking trails all around South Mountain, but I live in the Ahwatukee Foothills so for me, my favorite is Telegraph Pass. There is a large parking lot that quickly fills up on a nice day, and there are even facilities should you need them.  Mathew Blades (6).jpg

The trail starts off paved for a bit, then you get to choose your path: left or right?  

Left takes you up Telegraph Pass (my choice) and right brings you to the Desert Classic trail. Going right is a pretty option for mountain biking or trail running. It’s fairly smooth, with some up and downs, but still challenging enough if you want to push yourself. Head left and Telegraph Pass is where you will find me. It’s a pretty smooth beginning and then the climb starts. Just before it gets challenging, you can take a break to prepare yourself.

The climb isn’t for everyone, because there are some big steps you need to make, but I take my kids up there so if the eight-and-five year olds can hang, so can you, right? On the way up, there are a few places to pull off and enjoy the views.  

After a few steep climbs, you reach the top of Telegraph Pass. Where you can find a bench to sit on and take in the beautiful view of the Ahwatukee Foothills.  

Do yourself a favor when you are up there and look north to see some of the most incredible views of Phoenix!

Mathew Blades (5).jpgAfter that, you have another choice to make: will you keep heading up using the National Trail East or opt for the National Trail West? Now, I’m here for a workout so I usually head back down to the trailhead and then head back up for round two, but like I said, this is usually my exercise for the day so I push myself. If you choose to continue climbing, there is a really cool hut at the top of the West Trail. 

Here are acouple of things to keep in mind, if you plan to try out this hike:

1. In the summer, it’s packed in the morning, especially on the weekends, and parking can be crowded.

2. Lots of people (including me) run this hike, so keep your eye out for us crazies. 

Hiking safety is crucial, especially during the summer months. Be sure to take plenty of water, dress for the heat and tell someone where you are hiking and when they can expect you to be done.

Mathew Blades grew up in the Midwest but loves living in Phoenix! When he’s not on the radio on Mix 96.9, he’s coaching his kid’s hockey teams, playing golf or taking a nap.