It was another warm Saturday in Phoenix when Carolyn tells me that we should go for a hike at the Cave Creek Regional Park, a Maricopa County Park.
A 30 minute drive from our condo and we find ourselves in the park with absolutely nobody around. We have visited the park several times hiking the Go John Trail Loop that is a nice hike. The Maricopa Trail is accessible from this area as well.
Our journey today is the Slate Trail to Military Trail across Flat Rock Trail to Quartz Trail and back on Slate to the Trailhead. Our loop ended up being 5.25 miles with some elevation gains of over 500 feet on a nice, smooth, well maintained trail. Even though it was warm, it was great to be out in the desert with nobody around.
The park has a visitors center and it does cost $7 to get in but Maricopa Parks are well maintained and have many areas for picnics and when fire dangers are lower, they even have grills to bbq. Great park close to the city but far enough to be socially distanced. Today’s hike was really socially distanced. I’ve always enjoyed socially distanced hikes long before socially distanced became a thing. No masks on the trail. The park is almost an island surrounded to the east and west and south by private land with houses but they are hidden in the landscape. Northern boundaries still are quite desolate. For a quick getaway from the urban areas, I highly recommend this park.
No hike would be complete without a stop on the way home at a local brewery in Cave Creek. Normally we would stop by the Cave Creek Beer Company but Covid 19 has taken its toll on one of our favorite stops. So what to do?
We decide to stop by the Elysian Desert Distillery in Cave Creek. What a great place. The bartender was a gem. He actually could talk anything bourbon related and he made us a couple fabulous cocktails using their Carefree Bourbon. He made a special one for Carolyn on the fly and not only was it good but it was good looking. He also is responsible for hand crafting the different bitters. The tasting room is currently open on Friday and Saturday 2 to 7. Not cheap but a nice splurge.
The following weekend, Carolyn and I returned to Payson to take her mother to the Arizona Snowbowl in Flagstaff to ride the chairlift and take in some fall colors in the area. Beautiful day to go and upon arrival there were many out on a Friday. The lift wasn’t to busy and our trip up and back was cold but we liked it so much we rode again.
After our rides, we decided to do some walking in the area and we did the Aspen Loop Trail, a 2+ mile hike that was really nice and not difficult in any way. We were pleasantly surprised that there were few people on this specific trail and the Aspens still had color. It was very pleasant with plenty of sunshine.
On our way back to Payson, we stopped by Dark Sky Brewing Co, Flagstaff Brewing Co, and Historic Barrel+ Bottle House. FYI, we did not have drinks in all these places as we took turns on who would order and where but we did eat a burger at FBC, and a fantastic pizza at Dark Sky, and enjoyed the newer cocktail lounge at Historic.
Love Arizona adventures.