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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Mountains & mining towns: Things to do in Phoenix this fall

Ain't no mountain high enough: Hike Pinnacle Peak Park for views of the valley and desert. Credit: Friends of Pinnacle Peak Park.

By Janet Bazan

Contrary to popular belief, strolling pumpkin patches and apple orchards aren’t the only things to do this fall. Head 2,700 miles west of New England to find one of the most brilliant color parades around: the trails in Phoenix.

With temps hanging out around 76 degrees, the city sports so much to enjoy outdoors. Start by taking a hike – literally. Considered one of National Geographic’s best hiking cities, Phoenix bursts with everything from steep summit climbs to secluded, meandering valley walks and everything in between. Use this handy map to plot your hikes in and around the Valley.

My personal favorite: Pinnacle Park in north Scottsdale. Soak in panoramic views of the surrounding desert  from the highest point – about 2,889 feet above the Valley. Expect an easy-to-moderate hike for the trail, which is about 3.5 miles roundtrip.

Venture east to hit the AZ88/ Apache Trail, only an arm’s length of the Valley and about 145 miles roundtrip. If you start from the Apache Junction end, take Highway 60 east (from Phoenix) to Idaho Road, then follow the signs to AZ 88 (Apache Trail). 

Besides the towering Superstition Mountains on your right, the first attraction of note is the Goldfield Ghost Town, about 4.5 miles from Apache Junction. Walk down Main Street, explore the many shops and buildings, tour the mine, visit the Superstition Mountain/Lost Dutchman Museum, pan for gold, take a narrow gauge train ride or witness an old west gun fight.

And to think … this is only a teaser for spring.

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Janet Bazan is a market manager for Arizona and New Mexico for Orbitz Worldwide.

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