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Mighty Annie Hull packs a whole lot of energy into her 4-foot-11 frame. When not running, bouldering or crushing her strength training routine, the Mesa teacher and mother of two toddler boys escapes to Valley trails, often with a baby on her back. To instill a love of the outdoors in her children, Hull believes in starting them young. “I exposed my babies to the outside world right off the bat with walks and going to the park, so hiking was just the next natural step. I took Eli hiking when he was 4 months old and took Jo as soon as 2 months.”
Although her boys took to nature easily, Hull hikes with a few tricks up her sleeve to manage inevitable tantrums.
“With my 2-year-old, I try to keep him engaged by pointing out wildlife and interesting plants. Sometimes, if he gets really squirrelly, I will let him out of the pack to frolic. As for hunger, our daily eating habits mimic a style of grazing, so they are constantly eating all day… so, as long as I pack plenty of food, they’re happy.”
For new parents anxious about hiking with babes, Hull recommends starting on interesting, moderate trails like Silly Mountain and the Wind Cave Trail at Usery Mountain Regional Park in Mesa. But one of her favorite destinations is the Peralta Canyon Trail to the Fremont Saddle in the Superstition Mountains near Apache Junction. The trail’s aggressive climb and scenic rewards help her maintain the physical strength and mental clarity she needs to keep up with the kiddos.
— Mare Czinar
IF YOU GO
LENGTH: 6.2 miles (4 miles round trip to the Fremont Saddle)
ELEVATION: 2400’ – 3760’
GETTING THERE: From Phoenix, take US 60 east to about 8 miles past Apache Junction and look for the “Peralta Trailhead” sign on the side of the road. Turn left onto Peralta Road (Forest Road 77) and drive 8 miles to the trailhead. Forest Road 77 is good dirt and passable by sedan. There are
restrooms but no water at the trailhead. The parking lot fills up quickly on weekends, so plan to arrive early or park in the overflow lot. No fees.
Next Month: A Cave Creek mom and real estate agent demonstrates the drive-by appeal of Phoenix Sonoran Preserve.
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