Hidden Valley is in the South Mountain Park just 8 miles outside of Phoenix, Arizona. There is a parking lot at the trailhead but if it’s full, you should be able to find free parking on the street.
The South Mountain Park has an extensive trail system and this is one of the many hikes you can do there. This popular local hike requires some boulder climbing and hiking on some rocky and sandy terrains. I recommend wearing shoes with good traction.
Instead of doing the popular 4-mile hike to Hidden Valley, I mapped out a bigger loop route including Mormon Loop Trail and National Trail adding two miles to the total distance. This route is shared by hikers, trail runners, mountain bikes, and unicycles. Yes, you heard me right.
The hike begins on Mormon Trail from the parking lot. It’s well-maintained with signs to guide you. The trailhead was busy with families and weekend crowds. You gain most of the elevation in the 1st mile on rocky terrain. I recommend wearing shoes with good traction.
Mormon Loop Trail – National Trail Loop
When you come to the Mormon Loop Trail junction, turn left and begin the loop section of this hike. The less busy Mormon Loop Trail is pretty flat with a gradual descent so it was popular with trail runners. Mormon Loop and National trails are shared by mountain bikers. Watch out for speedy bikes here.
Near the National Trail and Pima Wash Trail junction, there are two adobes. We made a quick stop to check out the ruins
then continued on National Trail toward Hidden Valley. The landscape changed back to rocky and it offered some interesting rock formations along the way. We could feel that we were getting closer to the highlight of the hike, Hidden Valley, as you can see the excitement on Xena’s face.
Hidden Valley Trail
A little after 4 miles, turn left on to Hidden Valley Trail. Hidden Valley Natural Tunnel is about 0.5 miles away from that point. The tunnel was formed with huge boulders. The cooler temperature inside of the tunnel felt refreshing after hiking in the sun.
Somewhere between Natural Tunnel and Fat Man’s Pass, we ran into the unicyclists again. This time Xena made a friend.
You can’t see the trail from here because of these huge stones. You will have to find your way to the other side. We walked under this stone then scrambled over smaller rocks to make it to the trail on the other side. Well, Xena didn’t scramble over rocks exactly. Instead, she found a small spot between the rocks and she squeezed through. However you do it, it’s super fun!
The trail was now sandy. This small hike had varieties! Fat Man’s Pass is the last interesting point on Hidden Valley Trail right before you meet up with National Trail again. The pass is super tight but I was able to get through. Do you see Xena in the back? She didn’t want to go first. I think she wanted to see what happens to me first before she tries it. Didn’t want to get stuck I guess. Always wise.
I saw others finding other ways to get around this area. Have fun with it! When you meet up with National Trail, turn right then turn left on Mormon Trail. You should recognize this junction because you just completed the loop clockwise. From here, take Mormon Trail back to the trailhead.
Good to Know:
- Hike date: 2.17.18
- Length: 6.3 miles RT
- Elevation gain: 1,223 feet (Max 2,137 ft)
- Difficulty rating: Challenging
- Trailhead coordinates: 33.366454, -112.031014 (copy/paste into your GPS app)
- No shade; high-trafficked; some scrambling required
- No permit/fee required
- Trails in order: Mormon – Mormon Loop – National – Hidden Valley – National – Mormon