Saturday, May 23, 2009

Trails of Deem Hills

November 2005
When we first began shopping for a home in north Phoenix three years ago, a top priority on our list of “must haves” was “easy access to hiking in natural open space”. Along with “walking distance to good public schools”, “quiet”, and “neighborhood playground”, Stetson Hills was clearly a winner in all categories.

Before we actually made an offer on our home, we even took the time to test out the trails in Deem Hills. On a warm, rainy evening in October, we parked at the school and headed up Hackberry Drive and up into Deem Hills. The trail to the summit of the highest point was clear, save for a bit of scrambling over basalt boulders at the last pitch to the top. From there we surveyed the neighborhood below, nestled in the hills like a big easy chair. To the north, Pyramid Peak dominates the view, backed by layers of lavender hills. As we hiked down, the orange glow of sunset lit up the landscape, silhouetting the saguaros and lighting up the palo verdes. Perfect. A day later we signed our contract.

Since then, we’ve explored on and off trail all over Deem Hills. Although Deem Hills is a City of Phoenix Desert Preserve, so far there are no official trail maps. No worries! We’ve made one for you! Although some of the trails can become indistinct during the spring season when everything is growing wild, most of the year, you should be able to find the trails on our map. There are over 5 miles of trails total, which can take 3 or 4 hours to explore if you want to circumnavigate the Preserve. A quick morning jaunt up to the ridgeline and back can take less than an hour.

As with any desert hiking, it is best to wear good sturdy shoes, bring plenty of water, and wear sunscreen and a hat. Worried about rattlesnakes? In the many days that we’ve explored up there, we’ve never seen one, but we know they are there. Most likely, they will feel you coming and slither quietly away from danger (that’s you!). Do watch out for teddy bear cholla though. A pocket comb is a good tool to have along to pull out any cacti that “jump” at you, or hitch onto your shoes.

Please note that there is no parking at any of the trailheads on the Stetson Hills side. Fortunately, it’s an easy walk from your front door to the trails! Check the Stetson Hills website at to download and print your own copy of the Deem Hills Trail Map. See you up there!

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