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Photo Journey Through Arizona Ep.10- Hidden Valley Rock Tunnel, South Mountain (Phoenix, AZ) by hotsauceislethal

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· @hotsauceislethal ·
Photo Journey Through Arizona Ep.10- Hidden Valley Rock Tunnel, South Mountain (Phoenix, AZ)

Yet another popular hiking spot for locals, South Mountain is one of the more recognizable landmarks in the Valley. Most Phoenicians know it as the mountain with the red lights, from all of the communications towers. South Mountain is actually the largest municipal park in the whole United States!

The trail already looks extremely rugged and rocky from just the parking lot. I waited until noon to head out unfortunately, which wasn't necessarily the best idea considering that is the hottest time of day.

There are so many different trails! I am on Mormon Trail which is the short red line that starts at the green box on the left. It links into several others but I won't have time to explore too much

Within just a couple of minutes you can already get a view of the entire city. We are looking north from here.

Huge boulders and layers of stone comprise the majority of this mountain. These rocks are distinctly different than the ones further north, such as on Camelback Mountain.

There is a band of colored rock here- any geologists out there know what kind?

There are massive rocks and boulders at every turn, many upturned at an angle from tectonic movements that thrusted them from the earth.

I found a really cool stone bench that could easily seat a few friends.

The temperatures are starting to pick up. Weather app says it's 91 degrees but it always feels hotter when you're in direct sunlight.

You can see all of the major mountains in the valley including the Phoenix Mountains, Mummy Mountain, Camelback Mountain and the Papago Mountains (from left to right).

These large slabs of stone are remnants of ancient volcanoes from over a billion years ago.

This giant block of stone was a great resting spot and offered a nice vantage point over the entire city.

After a certain point the trail opens up to barren desert again. The remoteness is really setting in and it's just me and the elements.

Ancient people used to roam this mountain range freely but there isn't much comfort to offer.

Almost nothing edible grows here, except for the occasional prickly pear, palo verde seed pods, lizards or birds. There are rattlesnakes up here too but I didn't encounter any thankfully.

Finally made it to the major fork in the road after nearly an hour- I am looking for the Rock Tunnel in the Hidden Valley.

I am on edge as I travel further because there are always dangerous animals in the brush. Coyotes, rattlesnakes, javelinas and scorpions are all on the list to avoid. Even other humans could be a danger since you never know...

More gigantic boulders line the path and the vegetation begins to thicken.

The rock tunnel! Something very pre-historic looking about this place.

Some petroglyphs that have been vandalized by modern humans. They resemble the ones I saw over in Gold Canyon.

This human figure could have been drawn by anyone to be honest, but I will assume it was done by someone many hundreds of years ago.

The rock tunnel offers shade and seclusion from the elements. I can imagine it would have been quite easy to defend your position from inside.

The walls look glossy from the thousands of visitors touching them over the years.

Inside the walls are rough and jagged with no clear cut living spaces.

There is a beautiful skylight just above.

Different types of rock comprise the tunnel- this kind was very brittle and crumbly.

The view as you exit the other side of the tunnel. It opens up to an area that I presume was inhabited at one time.

The view back down towards the tunnel after you pass through.

Two "beds" that have been hollowed out from the surround rock. This would have provided a base for a larger shelter construction that would have extended outwards.

Another overhang that could have provided sleeping or storage areas.

This rock was massive and was obviously providing shelter at some point for indigenous peoples. You can clearly see where some of the sedimentary rock has been dug out below.

Holes had been hollowed out of the wall underneath to provide storage space.

A little further up on the ridge the trail seems to end here. I can't find a clear cut path anymore, risking getting lost without a hiking partner I have to make the responsible decision to play it safe.

Since I am by myself and seemingly at the end of the trail I decide to turn back here.

Old cans that were used as target practice.

Up to this point I had not seen anyone else in this area... a short while later a woman appears from the south side and begins to follow me back down the trail.

The jagged landscape is unforgiving. There is nothing here for a human to survive on, unless you knew exactly where to look.

A neat looking mushroom rock.

I decide to go up the other side and take a look for more petroglyphs before heading all the way back down.

There are a few interesting spots to explore around the other side of that ridge, where few other hikers probably travel since it is off trail.
Enormous boulders on either side are a reminder of just how tiny I am in the grand scheme of things.

Not a soul in sight. Note Camelback mountain in the left background.

Another view of those two beds I discovered. They remind me of houses from The Flintstones.

Classic desert landscape.

So many stones, so little time. This place is a geologist's dream.

As always bring extra supplies like water, sunscreen, lighter, knife, a hat and some food. You never know how long you will be out there for and in case you get lost it's better to be safe than sorry (or dead).

Oh and sunglasses too!
By the end of the hike I was feeling pretty good- tired but accomplished.

A lone Saguaro cactus that has been all by itself for over 100 years. They typically grow arms after 75 years so this one is pretty darn old.

Thanks again for checking out my Photo Journey Through Arizona! Have an amazing day :)

[Episode 1, Part 1- Montezuma Castle](

[Episode 1, Part 2- Montezuma Castle](

[Episode 2 - Montezuma Well](

[Episode 3- Sedona (Devils Bridge)](

[Episode 4- Tuzigoot Native American Ruins ](

[Episode 5- Old Mining Town Jerome, AZ](

[Episode 6- Casa Grande Ruins National Monument](

[Episode 7- Camelback Mountain, Phoenix, AZ](

[Episode 8- Goldfield Ghost Town And Mine, Apache Junction, AZ](

[Episode 9- Hieroglyphic Trail, Gold Canyon, AZ](
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