Maricopa County's regional park system attracts thousands of visitors each year. With over 120,000 acres in the park system, there is plenty to see and explore. However, sometimes visiting a new place can be a little overwhelming when you don’t know what’s available. To make sure your visit to San Tan Mountain Regional Park is a pleasant experience, we’ve pulled together a couple of basic itineraries to get you started on your journey.
|I have this much time available
|Here's what I can experience
|1 - 2 hour visit:
- Stop by the nature center to say "hello" to the friendly staff and receive useful information about the park. While you're there, check out the critter viewing center and peruse the products in the retail area. Whether you need a bottle of water, a postcard for a relative back home, or are looking for a book on the Sonoran Desert, the nature center has you covered!
- Pack a lunch, round up your friends and family and enjoy a picnic under an Ironwood Tree in the picnic area.
- Attend an interpretive program hosted by the park ranger or park host. Most programs are included in your day-use park entry fee. Please check the calendar of events for program dates and times.
- Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the easy, 1.3-mile Littleleaf-Goldmine Trail. This loop makes for a beautiful introduction to the Sonoran Desert for all users. There are a few small hills on the west end of the Littleleaf Trail, but the majority of the trail is flat and open with a slow elevation gain (roughly 50 ft.) as you get closer to the mountain. This is an excellent trail for watching the sunset.
- Take a hike along our Moonlight-Stargazer-San Tan Trail. This trail is 2.3-miles round-trip. This is the park's most popular trail! This loop guides you from the beautiful lower Sonoran Desert scene slowly up the side of a mountain to some spectacular viewing areas of San Tan Valley (roughly 150 ft. of elevation gain over 1-mile). This loop has a few small hills and narrow area. The Stargazer Loop is quite spectacular on a full moon or during wildflower season.
- Looking for more of a challenge? If so, a trek along the Goldmine Trail. TheGoldmine Trail (3-miles) is by far the most popular hiking trail in the park because of the excellent views of Phoenix, Queen Creek and San Tan Valley from the top of the mountain. The first mile of trail is wide open and climbs about 100 ft., bringing you to the base of the mountain. The next half mile gains about 500 ft. in elevation and is considered steep with a few sections of loose rock on the trail. Once at the top, there is a bench to rest on as well as spectacular views to reward your hard work. Continue along the top of the saddle to see the various views. This route is "up and back", so you will head down the same side of the mountain you came up. Chuckwallas (a type of lizard) are often seen along this trail.
|2-3 hour visit:
- If you have between two and three hours to spend in the park, the Moonlight-San Tan-Hedgehog-San Tan loop (4.4 miles) is a great way to explore the Sonoran Desert and see everything the park has to offer. The trails are fairly wide and wind through the desert with a nice mix of hills and flatter areas in between. Enjoy beautiful views of the Malpais Hills, Goldmine Mountain and Rock Peak as you make your way into more remote areas of the park. This loop gains about 400 ft. of elevation total and has a few rocky areas along the way.
- If you are looking for some spectacular views without climbing a mountain or hiking all day then the Goldmine-San Tan-Moonlight loop (3.6 miles) is for you! There are a few small hills that take you in and out of washes, but the majority of the trail is flat with a total elevation gain of around 250 feet. Users can take in scenic views of Goldmine Mountain and San Tan Mountain as they make their way through a beautiful Sonoran Desert scene. Some of the best Sunset viewing points in the park can be enjoyed on the San Tan Trail portion of this loop.
- The Hedgehog-San Tan loop also offers a moderate hike at 5.5 miles with spectacular views. Not only is it a great way to explore the back of the park but you can see our Crested Saguaro and Mysterious Petroglyph along the way. There are a few spots along the San Tan Trail that follow a sandy wash, but the majority of the trail is compact dirt. Both the Hedgehog Trail and San Tan Trail have a few small hills for a total elevation gain of 300 feet. Enjoy beautiful views of the Malpais Hills and Rock Peak as you make your way to the back of the park.
|3 hour visit:
- Looking for more of a challenge? If so, a trek along the Goldmine-Dynamite-San Tan-Moonlight Loop, which is approximately 7-miles roundtrip! This loop features several amazing views overlooking the park and Phoenix valley as well as provides users with a respectable climb in elevation (about 1,100 ft. total). The Dynamite and Goldminetrails are among the most popular trails at the park and are great for seeing various wildflowers scattered on the mountainside from March to April. This loop is mainly recommended for hikers due to the steep sections with loose gravel on the Goldmine Trail. When navigating this loop be sure to stay on designated and marked trails.
- Another must see includes the San Tan Loop! This loop is a great way to explore the majority of the park and see the Crested Saguaro and Mysterious Petroglyoh of San Tan. In order to make a full loop on the San Tan Trail, 1-mile will need to done on the Goldmine Trail. There are 2 spots along the San Tan Trail that follow a sandy wash, but the majority of the trail is compact dirt. The San Tan and Goldmine Trails have a few small hills for a total elevation gain of about 500 ft. Enjoy beautiful views of the Malpais Hills, Rock Peak and Goldmine Mountain as you make your way around the park.
|4-5 hour visit:
- For those seeking a rigorous workout, the Moonlight-San Tan-Malpais-Hedgehog Loop, which is approximately 9.2-miles roundtrip, is just the trail! This is a more difficult loop that will take you to some beautiful and remote areas of the park seldom seen. The Malpais Trail is a gorgeous trail that follows a sandy wash for 2.5-miles along the base of the Malpais Hills. This is an excellent area for viewing larger wildlife like javelina, coyotes, bobcats and birds of prey. There are a few hills and rocky areas on the Hedgehog and San Tan Trails with a total elevation gain of about 500 ft. Because this is a longer loop, bring plenty of water, snacks and proper attire is highly recommended.
- Another must see includes the Outer loop! This loop consists of the San Tan, Malpais, Dynamite, Goldmine and Littleleaf Trail totaling 14-miles. Explore the entire park and take in all the views San Tan has to offer. As you make your way through the park, you will climb mountains, navigate washes, see the mysterious Petroglyph of San Tan, crested Saguaro and much more. This is the longest loop in the park and is recommended for experienced users only. Due to the steep sections on the Goldmine Trail and sandy sections along the San Tan and Malpais Trails, this route is not recommended for mountain bikers. Users attempting this loop should pack plenty of water, snacks and be protected from the sun.
- Are you interested in learning about our fascinating Sonoran Desert plants and animals? Attend one of the park’s exciting interpretive programs and learn all about them! The park provides both indoor and outdoor programs, as well as daytime and nighttime programs for all ages. Most programs are included in the park entry fee! Please check the calendar of events for program dates and times.