Arizona Hiking Gallery
San Tan Loop Hike
San Tan Mountain Regional Park, Queen Creek, AZ
November 25, 2010
Gallery contains 41 photos
Gallery last updated: 2/20/2011

This hike is an approximately 5 mile easy counter-clockwise loop hike in San Tan Mountain Regional Park just south of Queen Creek, AZ. The hike loops around the unnamed central mountains of the park using the Moonlight, San Tan, Hedgehog, and Stargazer trails.

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 1
Goldmine Mountain dominates the northern part of San Tan Mountain Regional Park.

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 2
This hike makes a loop around these central mountains of the San Tan Mountain Regional Park as viewed from the lower creosote flats near the Moonlight trailhead.

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 3
The largest tree in the Sonoran Desert is the Ironwood (Olneya tesota) tree.

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 4
Trunk of the Ironwood (Olneya tesota) tree.

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 5
Desert Mistletoe (Phoradendron californicum) is often found in Ironwood trees.

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 6
A large mass of Desert Mistletoe (Phoradendron californicum) hanging in an Ironwood tree.

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 7
Leaves of the Ironwood (Olneya tesota).

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 8
Saguaro, Chain Fruit Cholla, and Creosote and the dominate plants in this view toward Goldmine Mountain.

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 9
Chain Fruit Cholla (Opuntia fulgida).

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 10
Two Saguaro Cactus (Cereus giganteus) stand guard along the Moonlight Trail.

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 11
Chain Fruit Cholla (Opuntia fulgida).

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 12
A Saguaro stump remains standing as it grips the granite rocks around it.

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 13
Interesting pleat patterns on this Saguaro.

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 14
Saguaro cactus.

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 15
Chain Fruit Cholla (Opuntia fulgida).

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 16
A view of the central mountains from near the intersection of the Moonlight and San Tan trails.

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 17
Interesting weathering of this granite boulder...I call it Toadstool Rock.

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 18
Caption for IMG_9332

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 19
Much of the area around the San Tans are characterized by granite and schist rock outcrops. Here's a closeup of a granite slab.

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 20
A large Teddy Bear Cholla (Opuntia bigelovii) alongside the San Tan Trail.

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 21
A view to the northwest toward Chandler Heights and the Phoenix Metro Area beyond.

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 22
Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus wislizenii) and an old wooden stem rise from a granite outcrop.

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 23
A wonderful large old Chain Fruit Cholla (Opuntia fulgida).

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 24
Chain Fruit Cholla (Opuntia fulgida) gets its name from the chain of fruit that develop year after year.

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 25
Left to right: Rock Peak, Yellow Peak, and the eastern edge of the San Tan Mountain escarpment.

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 26
The San Tan Mountain escarpment dominates the southern part of the San Tan Mountain Regional Park seen here from the San Tan Trail.

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 27
The San Tan Mountain escarpment dominates the southern part of the San Tan Mountain Regional Park seen here from the San Tan Trail.

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 28
Caption for IMG_9372

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 29
Fluffy clouds float over Rock Peak, Yellow Peak, and the San Tan Mountain escarpment. Here I leave the San Tan Trail and hop on the Hedgehog Trail (to the left) to continue the my loop.

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 30
Saguaro cactus.

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 31
A view over a Saguaro forest to the city and mountains beyond.

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 32
Old old stump (probably of an Ironwood tree) still reaches skyward.

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 33
The Hedgehog trail crosses a dry, sandy wash just before it reconnects with the San Tan Trail.

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 34
A large Saguaro Cactus (Cereus giganteus).

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 35
A lifeless Ironwood.

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 36
A Creosote Bush (Larrea tridentata) in bloom in late November!

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 37
A Creosote Bush (Larrea tridentata) closeup.

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 38
The remaining ribs of a long ago fallen and decayed away Saguaro.

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 39
Arm buds on a Saguaro Cactus.

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 40
A fallen Saguaro begins to decay back into the earth. A fallen it becomes an important ecosystem providing food, moisture, and habitat for insects and other creatures.

San Tan Loop Hike: Image 41
With my loop almost completed, this is a view across the desert floor toward Goldmine Mountain from the Stargazer Trail.

All images Copyright ©2010 Terry Wright. All rights reserved.