Hiking the White Tank Mountains
The White Tank Mountains are my absolute favourite mountain range in Arizona. Climbing the Waterfall trail, which starts from the centre of the mountain range and heads up into the rock face, is a tradition for my family and me whenever we're back in Phoenix.
With plenty of water and sunflower seeds in the toe we made out way into the park, grabbed our map from a chipper park ranger and I clumsily guided us towards the Waterfall trail entrance! We parked our newly rented, trigger happy, car in the almost empty parking lot at the base of the trail, grabbed our snacks and took off!
The summer heat was seemingly too much for other hikers as we had this usually packed trail all to ourselves. The desert is an oddly quiet environment compared to other parks you might visit in around the world. Occasionally you'll hear the rustle of a snake in the grass or a hawk overhead, but for the most part, the only sound you'll hear is the gentle shuffle of your feet on the dusty, dirt road. After a busy, stressful few months in the city - this quiet was a welcome interlude.
The Waterfall Trail is a beginners hike that takes you through all the beautifully weird flora and fauna that Arizona has to offer. Cacti is abundant on the trail, gnarled old staghorn slump on the sidelines; barrel cacti poke their heads out of the rocks, and even playful teddy bear cacti hide menacingly along the side of the road - ready to pounce!
The White Tank Mountains get their name from the huge flash floods that sent rainwater pouring down the canyon year after year, creating depressed (or tanks) in the white granite rocks. These mountains are known to be home to various animals and reptiles but the only playful creatures out and about on the rocks that day were ourselves!!! And we liked it that way!
Sometimes, when there's been a significant amount of rainfall, at the top of this trail, a temporary waterfall appears seemingly from out of nowhere - falling from the sky. Although there was no waterfall as we found ourselves at the top of the trail, we had a lovely time sitting down beneath the shade of the mountain and eating our early morning hiking snack pack I made for our little jaunt.
The White Tanks also have little, hidden treasures along the road, from old water barrels to ancient petroglyphs - there is always something wonderful to see!
This hike gives you some of the most lovely Sonoran desert views you can get so close to the city. Walking down from the top, you have the chance to look at the sprawling desert, slowly disappear as the city pops up in the distance. From above, the rugged mountains that surround the valley seem to tightly cradle that precious little city in their palms, keeping it safe from the world outside.