A Hiker’s Guide to Kiwanis Trail at South Mountain Park

Matthew JohnsonJanuary 22, 2021
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Kiwanis Trail is one of the quickest and easiest ways to experience South Mountain Park’s great views and heritage sites.

An easy drive through South Phoenix will take you to South Mountain Park, where the Gila, Guadalupe and Ma Ha Tauk mountain ranges come together and provide more than 50 miles of trails to explore. One of those miles inside the intersecting canyon is the classic Kiwanis Trail, a legacy trail created in the 1930s. The one-mile trek will climb 480 feet to Telegraph Pass Road and then another half-mile takes you to the scenic Telegraph Pass Lookout — where you must take a selfie or you’re not doing it right!

History

  •  South Mountain Park was established in 1924 and remains one of the largest municipal parks in the nation with more than 16,000 acres of open space.
  • Many of the park’s structures and trails were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps between 1933 and 1944.
  • The park recently got a re-boot with upgraded trailheads and improved trails.

Heritage Site

  • Many of the park’s petroglyphs are attributed to the Hohokam People who inhabited the area between the 5th century and the year 1450.
  • There are some 24 known petroglyph panels along the trail.
  • Refrain from touching the etchings or going off trail to explore them. Oils from your skin may damage them. Leaving established trails can wreak havoc on drainages, harm native plants, disrupt wildlife and encourage others to follow suit. Plus, ya know — rattlesnakes.

Source: Landscape of the Spirits Hohokam Rock Art at South Mountain Park by Todd W. Bostwick, The University of Arizona Press, 2002.

Kiwanis Trail Stats

  • Length: 2 miles round trip or 2.6 miles roundtrip to Telegraph Pass Lookout
  • Rating: moderate
  • Elevation: 1580- 2060 feet
  • Kid appropriate
  • Dog Friendly

Be A Responsible Hiker

  • Hit the trail prepared with proper gear and supplies.
  • Best to hike Kiwanis Trail between October and May. Avoid summer months.
  • Pack out what you pack in.
  • Stay on established trails, don’t leave the path.
  • Pick up your dog droppings.
  • Refrain from altering or vandalizing the trail and surrounding nature.
  • Leave no trace.

Getting There

South Mountain Park
10919 S. Central Ave., Phoenix

Important to note: Apple and Google Maps will only take you to the park entrance. Continue to follow the small road signs pointing you to the Kiwanis Trailhead.

From the main park entrance at the end of Central Avenue, continue on Stephen Mather Drive and go left at the first four-way intersection. Take another left onto Piedras Grandes Drive and continue to the trailhead.

Need a Bigger Challenge?

Extend the hike by following the National Trail – a 15-mile route that runs high in the hills over the length of the park — for great views of the Salt and Gila River Basin, Downtown Phoenix and many surrounding mountain ranges from 1,000 feet above the Valley floor.

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