Arizona Hiking Gallery
Bursera-National-Pyramid Loop Hike
South Mountain Park, Phoenix, AZ
February 11, 2017
Gallery contains 15 photos
Gallery last updated: 2/18/2017

This was an strenuous 10.7 mile hike in the Gila Mountain Range of South Mountain Park in Phoenix, Arizona, one of the three mountain ranges that make up the park. We did a clockwise loop using the Bursera, National and Pyramid Trails in the southwestern part of the park.

Bursera-National-Pyramid Loop Hike: Image 1
A crested California Barrel Cactus, Ferocactus cylindraceus seen along the Bursera Trail. Normally this cactus grows unbranched with a single column. It's fairly rare to see one with multiple heads.

Bursera-National-Pyramid Loop Hike: Image 2
A view from the Bursera Trail.

Bursera-National-Pyramid Loop Hike: Image 3
A view from the Bursera Trail looking back to the east at the "Pyramid" and the switchbacking Pyramid Trail. We will be descending the Pyramid Trail much later in the day near the end of our loop.

Bursera-National-Pyramid Loop Hike: Image 4
A view from the Bursera Trail looking to the west over the Gila River Valley to the Sierra Estrella Mountains.

Bursera-National-Pyramid Loop Hike: Image 5
Desert valley and ridges from the western end of the Bursera Trail.

Bursera-National-Pyramid Loop Hike: Image 6
There is quite a thriving population of California Barrel Cactus, Ferocactus cylindraceus, along western end of the National Trail.

Bursera-National-Pyramid Loop Hike: Image 7
Here you see the National Trail descending the western slopes of South Mountain Park. We are heading up the National Trail off to the left in this photo.

Bursera-National-Pyramid Loop Hike: Image 8
Fishhook Pincushion Cactus, Mammillaria grahamii, bearing its bright red fruit. This is also know as Arizona Fishhook Cactus.

Bursera-National-Pyramid Loop Hike: Image 9
A wonderfully red spined California Barrel Cactus, Ferocactus cylindraceus, in front of Goat Hill along the National Trail. The City of Phoenix is far below in the far background.

Bursera-National-Pyramid Loop Hike: Image 10
There is a small population of Littleleaf Elephant Trees, Bursera microphylla in South Mountain Park. It is said that South Mountain Park is the northeastern most limit of their natural range. It is highly adapted to the desert climate with its thickened water storing trunk.

Bursera-National-Pyramid Loop Hike: Image 11
Close up of the thickened trunk of the Littleleaf Elephant Tree, Bursera microphylla.

Bursera-National-Pyramid Loop Hike: Image 12
Fishhook Pincushion Cactus, Mammillaria grahamii, growing from small cracks in the rock.

Bursera-National-Pyramid Loop Hike: Image 13
Fishhook Pincushion Cactus, Mammillaria grahamii. Here you can see the long central dark reddish brown spines that are hooked at the end lending them the "fishhook" name.

Bursera-National-Pyramid Loop Hike: Image 14
A hillside covered with Teddy Bear Cholla (Cylindropuntia bigelovii), California Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus), and Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens).

Bursera-National-Pyramid Loop Hike: Image 15
Ancient rock art or modern day re-creation?

All images Copyright ©2017 Terry Wright. All rights reserved.