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Trail Rating Guide

During the hotter months when the temperatures and/or humidity is high, trails will be rated at least one level higher.

Rating Symbol Brief
Definition
Surface Grade Obstacles/
Steps

easiest
Paved Accessible Trail Paved or hard and smooth
None


easy

Mostly smooth and wide Dirt with occasional unevenness
2" or less, rocks and ruts

moderate
Mostly smooth, variable width Dirt with occasional unevenness
<8" rocks and ruts, loose material

moderate difficult
Mostly uneven surfaces Dirt and rock
<12" rocks and ruts, loose material

difficult
Long rocky segments with possible drops and exposure Dirt and loose rock with continual unevenness
12" or taller, loose rocks, exposure to drops

extremely difficult
Long rocky segments with possible drops and exposure Dirt and loose rock with continual unevenness
12" or taller, loose rocks, exposure to drops and excessive heat >90F

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Trail Rating Card
/ Black and White Trail Rating Card

Know your ability and choose the right trail

Every year, more than 200 people have to be rescued while hiking in parks and preserves. Make an informed decision on which trail to hike. Choose a trail that is within your ability and your hike will be more enjoyable.

Be sure to ALWAYS:

  • Stay on designated trails.
  • Tell someone where you are hiking and when you expect to return.
  • Carry plenty of water for your entire hike. Remember water for your dog.
  • When your water is half gone, turn around and return to the trailhead.
  • Carry a cellphone.
  • Don't hike alone.
  • Wear appropriate footwear and clothing for hiking.
  • Use maps, know where you are going and what kind of terrain you are hiking on.

In addition to the tips above, here are a couple of basic safety refreshers to keep in mind when recreating outdoors:

  • Carry a bandana in your pack. They are light-weight and can be used for numerous situations. If you are beginning to suffer from excessive heat, wet the bandana and place on the nape of the neck and/or the forehead. This will help to cool you down quickly. Seek shade under a tree or bush.
  • Map miles are not the same as effort miles. On good trails, hikers can go up to 2.5 MPH. On most trails, count on no more than 1 or 1.5 MPH, especially if admiring the views, cooling off under Palo Verde trees, taking pictures, etc.
  • Going uphill takes more time. A 1,000’ climb equals a mile of effort and adds 10 or 20 minutes. Downhill is no faster if the trail is bad.
  • Be wary of rattlesnakes, particularly at night and when it is relatively cool.
  • Carry something to signal with – a police whistle, signal mirror, and matches for a fire, a colored panel – to make you visible.
  • Be considerate – leave no trace.

 

 

San Tan Shredders Mountain Bike Group - San Tan
In Search of Birds, with Joe Ford! - Cave Creek Regional Park
Become a Jr. Ranger - McDowell
Old Man of the Mountain: Historical Walk - San Tan
Rock Art of Spur Cross
Believe it or Not! -Estrella Park
Birds of the Sonoran Desert, with Joe Ford! - Cave Creek Regional Park
Photography 101 -Estrella Park
Geology of the Valley - San Tan
Earth Day Library Series Children's Program - Owl Pellet Investigation - White Tank Mtn.
Snake Feeding - White Tank Mtn.
Animal Art! - Cave Creek Regional Park
National Astronomy Day Stargazing with Telescopes at Lake Pleasant

New to Arizona? - San Tan - 4/26/2015
Archery 101 a - Cave Creek Regional Park - 4/26/2015
Mountain Biking 101 - San Tan - 4/26/2015
Archery 101 b - Cave Creek Regional Park - 4/26/2015
Lunch with the Critters -Estrella Park - 4/26/2015
Archery "OPEN RANGE"- Cave Creek Regional Park - 4/26/2015
Arizona Wildlife Mythbusting -Estrella Park - 4/26/2015
"Cactus Bingo" Hike - Yavapai Lower Loop Trail - Lake Pleasant - 4/26/2015
Know and Go Scorpion Hunt - Lake Pleasant - 4/26/2015
Take Your Walk to the Desert - Spur Cross - 4/27/2015
Birds and Blooms Walk - McDowell - 4/29/2015
Cacti of Spur Cross - 4/29/2015
Night Shredders - San Tan - 4/29/2015
Early Morning Nature Hike - White Tank Mtn. - 4/30/2015
Fitness Thursdays -Estrella Park - 4/30/2015
Spring Fitness Hike - Cave Creek Regional Park - 4/30/2015
Homeschool: Where the Wild Things Are - San Tan - 4/30/2015
Reptile Feeding - McDowell - 4/30/2015
Estrella Mountain Regional Park Seeks Input on Master Plan Update - 4/30/2015
Fridays Fitness Hike- McDowell - Wagner Trailhead - 5/1/2015
May Day without Venom Hike, Protect Yourself from Bites and Stings - Lake Pleasant - 5/1/2015
Clay Mine Adventure! - Cave Creek Regional Park - 5/1/2015
All About Venomous Snakes - San Tan - 5/1/2015
Family Moonlight Hike - White Tank Mtn. - 5/1/2015
Full Moon Hike - San Tan - 5/1/2015
more...


General Park Hours
Sun-Thu: 6am-8pm
Fri-Sat: 6am-10pm
- 365 days a year 

Headquarters Admin Hours
Mon-Fri: 8am-4pm
except holidays 

Maricopa County Parks & Recreation Dept.
The Headquarter Administrative Offices are located at:
41835 N. Castle Hot Springs Rd.
Unit Operations Center

Morristown, AZ 85342
Ph: 602-506-2930 or (928) 501-9200
Fax: (602)372-8596
maricopacountyparks@mail.maricopa.gov

 
Our Parks:  
Adobe Dam  |  Buckeye Hills  |  Cave Creek  |  Desert Outdoor Ctr  |  Estrella Mtn  |  Lake Pleasant  |  McDowell Mtn  |  San Tan Mtn  |  Spur Cross  |  Usery Mtn  |  White Tank
Main Parks Homepage  

To visit a city website, click on the link below...
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