Diane Kandel, Publicist for the RR Hiking Club
Friday, February 19, 17 hikers from the Rec Group of the Robson Ranch Hiking Club headed down Sunland Gin Road to start their hike up Casa Grande Mountain.
Casa Grande Mountain (1,025 acres), at its highest point is 2,350 feet and offers an unsurpassed view of surrounding farm fields and parts of Casa Grande. Two major intersections, I-8 and I-10, make for easy access and are visible from some of the trails.
There are two major access points to Casa Grande Mountain Park: Peart Trailhead at 1086 Peart Road and the Arica Trailhead, 2090 E. Arica Road. Each trailhead provides a different trail experience and different views as well as varying levels of difficulty.
Jim Price, hiking leader, began the hike at the Arica Trailhead, which starts off easy turning to moderate then taking the Ridge trail for a more difficult climb. This trail takes in some of the park’s best views with great vantage points for viewing the city, farmlands and highways as well as panoramic views of the Sawtooth Mountains and Picacho Peak.
The majority of the park lands are rocky, steep and rugged. A wash runs north and south through two prominent ridges. The mountain park resides in the Sonoran Desert scrub region and includes many plants associated with that life zone, i.e. saguaro, foothill palo verde tree, ironwood tree, barrel cactus, prickly pear, chainfruit cholla, creosote bush, brittlebush, fairy duster, triangle bursage, penstemmon, gold poppy, lupine, etc. It was a little too early in the season to view many flowers, but in a few weeks they should start to pop out. Currently flowers can be seen at Sunset Park in the Picacho Mountains nearby.
Despite the lack of a perennial water source the park is home to a wide variety of wildlife including Red-tailed Hawk and Cooper’s Hawk, Mourning Dove, Greater Roadrunner, Broad-billed Hummingbird, Cactus Wren, coyote, gray fox, bobcat, javelina, Desert cottontail, Black-tailed jackrabbit, desert kangaroo rat and more. However, the group didn’t encounter any of these critters except for the Cactus Wren.
Although the park has long been popular with local hikers, cyclists, bird watchers, joggers and equestrians for decades, the neglected mountain featured only a few aging single-track trails. Those who loved the mountain knew it could be more. And now, thanks to years of work by the city of Casa Grande and an army of citizen volunteers (our hiking leader Jim Price being one of them), the mountain has been reborn and boasts a new and improved trail system perfect for an up-close look at the desert’s diverse wildlife and vegetation.
If you are interested in hiking please contact Jim Price at 520-836-5286 to schedule an orientation hike, a requirement to joining the first hike.