Shaw Butte and Charles M Christiansen Loop Trail is a 4.7 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Phoenix, Arizona that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
When you say "North Mountain," I think most Arizonans know where it is or can find it. When you say "Shaw Butte," it seems like you get a lot more questioning glances and "huh?". Shaw Butte is the other side of the preserve and what a trail it is. There are 3 interesting landmarks on this trail, 2 radio towers and an old burned down restaurant, all of which are fun to check out. Despite not a ton of people knowing the name, this is a very popular trail and a good place to get a nice challenge in. Take the access road up and down a few times and you'll get your workout in for the day! Additional parking is off of Central and Thunderbird. The Trail 306 starts uphill and stays that way pretty much till the towers, with just a few flat spots to give you a break. You can walk around the towers for some nice views of the city. Once you pass the towers and continue around the loop you come to an old restaurant that has been burned down for 40 years. Take some time to look up the old Cloud 9 Restaurant and relive some history. Continuing down the switchbacks the backside of the mountain is nice and flat and easy going. You will probably pass a mountain biker or two at some point down here. You also get on part of the Trail 100 that runs through several of the mountains in the area. Also, dog friendly.
This is trail is a little challenging. From the trailhead off of Central Ave., south of Thunderbird, it is immediately a steep up hill climb. You're able to ascend all the way to the radio towers that can be seen from below. SOME of this is paved, however, it has NOT been well-maintained. I definitely wouldn't count on in for traction.
There a few switchbacks on your way to the towers. Once you're there, the vantage point is great. You'll have some nice views of the local neighborhoods, including Thunderbird High School in the west, downtown Phoenix to the south, and a good portion of trail 100 to the east.
I would recommend a good stretch before beginning, because the constant uphill climb is rough on the hamstrings and glutes, and the descending that follows is tough on the quads. Make sure you have boots with good traction, also. The second half (downhill) portion has lots of loose gravel in places.
Overall, a GREAT workout and nice hike with plenty of photo ops.
One last thing... The parking lot is small and spaces are limited. Keep that in mind when choosing which day/time to go.
sweet views all around the valley
I live on the side of this mountain, pretty easy if you hike normally! great views!
Decent trail and close to town but not overly difficult
Love all the options, as far as different paths to take. I take this trail all the time.