Route DescriptionDifficulty: Easy Class 1 Walk-up
Distance: 4 miles round-trip
Elevation Gain: 670 feet
The 4-mile loop Shaw Butte Trail starts up an old service road that keeps a continuous grade. In about a quarter of a mile the road will turn back sharply in the other direction. This being said the trail to the top following the road is next to impossible to miss. Along the trail you will see tons of Barrel Cacti, some Saguaro and some Palo Verde trees. This part of the trail is probably the only one that sees shade from the sun. Continue onwards towards the obvious summit with the transmission towers scattered across it.
If you want to stand on the summit you will need to go left when you reach a 3 way fork just past the first set of towers.
To continue on the loop trail go back to the 3 way fork and descend to the right. You will skirt right past a fence holding the transmission towers. Look to your immediate right at this fence and you will see a Saguaro cactus sucking the life out of a Palo Verde tree. I will attach an image so that you will know what I am talking about. Continue down this trail where it meets up with a semi paved road and follow that road to the left.
Continue onward past the site of the old "Cloud Nine" restaurant, where all that remains is it's cement foundation. You will come across a marker that marks the trail back to 15th Street and also back down trail #306 (Shaw Butte Trail). Follow the Shaw Butte trail to the left where it descends steeply to the junction with the Christiansen Trail #100.
Here there are many off trails, but just head down through the notch and continue to follow the Shaw Butte Trail #306 markers that are scattered about. If all else fails, head East when you reach the base of North Mountain, which will be the Christiansen Trail. Overall though if you keep alert, you can find the trail pretty easily.
After you have descended through the notch the trail flattens out for the rest of the way making for a pretty easy and relaxed hike.
At this point you are totally exposed to the sun, with not much hope for shade.
Continue on the Shaw Butte trail until you reach the parking lot where you started.
Make sure to ignore the signs that point you to the visitor center, unless of course you want to go that extra distance.
If you do not wish to do the loop then you can easily turn back and go down the road on which you started up.
Getting ThereFrom Interstate 17
Take the Thunderbird Road exit (#210). Follow Thunderbird Rd. East for about 3 miles until you reach Central Avenue. Once you reach Central Ave. turn right (South) and follow it for about a quarter of a mile until you reach the trailhead parking lot.
Red TapeDogs must be on a leash
No Glass containers
Trail closes at sunset
Do not remove anything from the trail
Permit needed for alcohol, firearms or amplified music
I had to laugh at this one - No shopping carts
When to ClimbOctober through April is probably the best time of year to climb, due to Summer temperatures exceeding 110 degrees. Beware if hiking in the summer of the monsoons and lightning storms.
What to BringI would bring at least a liter of water
Good hiking shoes
Click the Satellite picture for a video loop of current weather