Alta Trail And Bajada Trail is a 9.3 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Phoenix, Arizona that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round.
Bring lots of water!
Moderate to difficult in elevation gain on Alta. Moderate on National and Bajada leg. Difficult in terms of total distance. Be sure to use the Central Ave. entrance to South Mountain Park and park at the triangle/wedge as others have mentioned. Made the mistake of driving out to Laveen to the green and black dot on the map to find no access. Alta portion of this loop is very pretty in Spring: flowers in bloom, vivid chollas and ocotillos. Despite other reviews, was still quite surprised at level of solitude: went on a Sunday at 8am and once hitting Alta ridgeline, saw total of 6 people on way to San Juan Lookout (where Alta and National meet). Once completing Alta, continue on National until hitting Bajada. Minimal scenery on Bajada. Lots of dry wash crossings. May be more scenic after a rainstorm (although potentially dangerous). Took 4 hours total going solo and taking a few short breaks. Would plan on 5 to 6 hours if including a 1/2 hour lunch/break and moving at a casual pace.
I recommend doing this loop by starting on the Bajada (head west) and return on the Alta trail. You don't get much in the way of views when you head east on the Bajada. Another note, when you get closer to the west end of this loop you, take the National trail. It is what connects the Bajada to the Alta and is about a 3/4 mile little junction.
loooong ass hike....but very nice trail
This hike is a loop, but the red line doesn't show a loop. The green/black circle (Alta Trailhead?) is only accessible by vehicle (and parking is extremely limited) on the first Sat/Sunday of the month. It is also the end of the National Trail, which circles the base of the Maricopa peak to the south and east, then heads over to where the Bajada is shown as a dotted line. The Alta Trail is done well, but the red needs to go out (west) along the Bajada to the National, and then back to the start of the Alta. OR - the little 0.5 mile jog on the Bajada east goes to another parking spot (the triangle outside the San Juan gate - also limited parking available).
The Alta/Bajada is generally the loop using both trails and is shorter than going out on Alta and back on Alta (which is not a loop, but an out-and-back).
Lastly, the little 0.4 mile 'trail' on the east end of this 'loop' is NOT a trail, and it is definitely NOT a part of the Alta/Bajada Loop.
This is probably the prettiest trail on South Mountain. Only downfall is the trail being a bit hard to get to.
I loved this trail....did trail running all the way up and down. Some parts the trail was not to stable but a work out it will definitely give.
Loved the Alta hike! We did the 4.5 miles there and then back. I will be suffering for days but loved it