Arizona Hiking Gallery
San Tan Malpais Trail Hike
San Tan Mountain Regional Park, Queen Creek, AZ
March 13, 2011
Gallery contains 22 photos
Gallery last updated: 6/10/2012

This hike follows the San Tan, Hedge Hog, and Malpais trails for about an 8 1/2 mile hike in San Tan Mountain Regional Park just south of Queen Creek, AZ. The Malpais Trail spends much of its length beneath the spectacular San Tan Escarpment of the Malpais Hills in the southernwest corner of the park. Much of the hiking on this trail is in deep sandy washes.

San Tan Malpais Trail Hike: Image 1
San Tan Mountains in the central portion of San Tan Regional Park.

San Tan Malpais Trail Hike: Image 2
Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens) buds ready to burst open.

San Tan Malpais Trail Hike: Image 3
Teddy Bear Cholla (Opuntia bigelovii).

San Tan Malpais Trail Hike: Image 4
San Tan Escarpment of the Malpais Hills in the southwest corner of San Tan Mountain Regional Park.

San Tan Malpais Trail Hike: Image 5
A many-armed Saguaro Cactus (Cereus giganteus) stands before the Malpais Hills.

San Tan Malpais Trail Hike: Image 6
A large Chain Fruit Cholla (Opuntia fulgida) along the San Tan Trail

San Tan Malpais Trail Hike: Image 7
San Tan Escarpment rises above the desert floor.

San Tan Malpais Trail Hike: Image 8
In the lower Sonoran Desert areas of flat desert floors dominated by the Creosote Bush (Larrea tridentata) are known as creosote flats.

San Tan Malpais Trail Hike: Image 9
Two buttes rise above the desert at the western end of the San Tan Escarpment.

San Tan Malpais Trail Hike: Image 10
The San Tan Escarpment from western end of the Malpais Trail.

San Tan Malpais Trail Hike: Image 11
Arizona Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus wislizenii).

San Tan Malpais Trail Hike: Image 12
Much of this hike is in deep sandy washes making for difficult walking. Although I saw few others on this trail, this dry wash is a river of footprints.

San Tan Malpais Trail Hike: Image 13
The Malpais Trail continues in the wash below the San Tan Escarpment.

San Tan Malpais Trail Hike: Image 14
An Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens) blooms on the side of the wash with soaring cliffs in the background.

San Tan Malpais Trail Hike: Image 15
The Ironwood tree is the largest and oldest tree found the Sonoran Desert and is often found in dry sandy washes.

San Tan Malpais Trail Hike: Image 16
San Tan Escarpment.

San Tan Malpais Trail Hike: Image 17
An Ocotillo backlit by the sun.

San Tan Malpais Trail Hike: Image 18
Rock Peak.

San Tan Malpais Trail Hike: Image 19
Cliffs on the eastern end of the San Tan Escarpment.

San Tan Malpais Trail Hike: Image 20
A tangle of Saguaro Cactus arms.

San Tan Malpais Trail Hike: Image 21
Saguaro Cactus stand before the San Tan Escarpment as seen from near the intersection of the Malpais and San Tan Trails.

San Tan Malpais Trail Hike: Image 22
The Palo Verde tree can photosynthesize through its green bark, an adaptation that allows the tree to drop its leaves during the hot, dry conditions in the desert.

All images Copyright ©2011 Terry Wright. All rights reserved.