Alta Trail And Bajada Trail

HARD 57 reviews
#18 of 78 trails in

Alta Trail And Bajada Trail is a 7.7 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Phoenix, Arizona that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

7.7 miles
1,601 feet

dogs on leash


nature trips

trail running


bird watching


wild flowers


21 days ago

Parked at the triangle intersection of the 3 roads South Central, San Juan, and Summit Rd. The San Juan road is closed except the first Saturday and Sunday of every month. Starting from the parking lot, follow Bajada trail until you get to Alta trail, and then do the loop counter clockwise. This way, you can enjoy the views in the first half of the hike, since you walk the ridge of the mountain/along Maricopa peak. You'd then end the loop by walking the base back to the parking lot. This hike was phenomenal and the views from the top are incredible - you can see the whole valley. It was also lightly trafficked, which I really appreciate. Passed by maybe 2-3 other parties of hikers the whole time. I'd rate it more moderate than hard.

1 month ago

Parking for ~5 vehicles east of 43rd Ave at Estrella. 1/2 mile to San Juan Lookout, then chose your trailhead to Alta or National Trail. Did the full loop, 9.76 miles, ~2,150’ elevation gain, took about 4 1/2 hours. First half of Alta Trail the most challenging with steep hills. Trails fairly well marked and groomed. Lightly traffic (saw ~12 people). Good hike and enjoyed

5 months ago

11 months ago

The hike was challenging with great views and quiet. The trail for the most part was not complicated to navigate but there are points where the gravel is loose and steep points that require you to have great knees. It was also not confusing if another trail merged. It took me about 4 hours to complete and I would suggest plenty of water and a few snacks.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Nice quiet trail. Some of the footing is loose in steep areas, so trotting to finish in less than 2 hours can be difficult.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Love this trail. I’ve done it twice. If you like trails that aren’t heavily trafficked to give you a sense of being out in the middle of nowhere, this is for you. Once you come over the peak, you’ll be greeted with an amazing view of Phoenix (and all surrounding areas). Highly recommend. Can definitely get to your knees on the way down though.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

the trail to the summit and back is great and is only about 3 miles roundtrip. not sure that the full loop is worth it.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Bring lots of water!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

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.

Monday, January 16, 2017

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.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Good workout!

Saturday, August 06, 2016

loooong ass hike....but very nice trail

Thursday, June 23, 2016

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.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

This is probably the prettiest trail on South Mountain. Only downfall is the trail being a bit hard to get to.

Friday, March 25, 2016

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.

cross country skiing
Sunday, February 14, 2016

Loved the Alta hike! We did the 4.5 miles there and then back. I will be suffering for days but loved it

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Hiked a loop of Alta and Bajada. I parked at the gate on San Juan Road and walked to the east Alta trailhead, hiked to the San Juan trailhead, and followed Bajada from there back to the car. About 10 miles. Alta Trail is scenic, and narrow and precipitous in many stretches. I enjoyed Alta quite a bit, which made up for the relatively uninteresting way back on Bajada.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Summit #1 of the 2014 Phoenix Summit Challenge. Having a blast!

Monday, October 20, 2014

It was tricky finding the right area to park to get me close to the Bajada Trail because I didn't see any signs with the named trails. My goal was to do a complete loop up to Alta and back through Bajada. It seemed the closest access was to park at the 5 tables lot. From there I had to start the Ranger Trail to get to Bajada, which was the only way to get to the Alta start (see the park map). The Bajada trail can be bit confusing especially when you cross the washes because there is some slight alternate trailblazes. Also, some of the markers were faded to the extent you couldn't read them at all or were not visible across the way (could be they didn't exist because some I never found). Once you reach the Alta Trail it's easy to find your way, but there's nothing easy about the hike itself. Great panoramic views of the city throughout this trail. At the end of Alta I kept on the National trail which brought me back to Bajada and back to the lot where I started. I gave this loop 3 stars mostly because there is almost no shade unless you happen to catch the shadow of the mountain. Also, I was flailing my arms around the ENTIRE hike to keep the flies off and away from my face. Not sure if that had to do with the time of year, the weather or something else but it stole away from the enjoyment. Took me 5 hours to complete.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

This was a challenging, long trail. We were in awe of the views from the top. The trail is not well marked at the beginning of the trail from the east side--on the west side, there was a map. We found the trail very isolated and no cell phone reception. We only passed one other group of three hikers on the trail--it may be more populated on the weekend. We hiked on a Monday. Down the back side of the trail as we passed a large rock beside the trail, we heard a rattlesnake--we just walked on by without incident (whew!). It took a very long time to walk back to the car after hiking up the east side and down the west side of the trail.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Somewhat strenuous climb to the top of the Ma Ha Tauk range, but the scenic views are well worth the effort. This was the first week of March and there were already many poppies and other wildflowers blooming along the south slopes.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Started out with clear skys but soon turned to cloudy skys. The trail was very good just a few people out. Once I started up Alta Trail I warmed up quickly of course when I reached the top there was a very cool breeze. Great views from the top Phoenix look clear for the first time in a long time. I will be back in the spring when the plants are in bloom. Just great views

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The trailhead itself is only accessible one weekend a month since the San Juan road is usually closed. You can start at the parking area (which fills up by mid morning during peak season) before the closed gate.

The Alta Trail is one of my favourites because I can get a 5-hour / 10-mile hike 20 minutes from home. I do this by going back and forth on the trail. The Bajada trail is easy, but not as scenic, in my opinion. Some wildlife can be seen at dawn and dusk. Also, the trail is filled with hundreds and thousands of caterpillars early in the fall. :-)

I gave it four stars because, well, it's not as isolated as I would like. It IS in Phoenix, after all.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

awesome, as I was the only one on the Trail. I started from Bajada as San Juan Rd is closed. It was a nice easy hike until I got to the Alta trail head, from there it was all up hill but the views were awesome. I will do this one again

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Awesome views. Very rocky and hot. Take lots of water. Allow four hours minimum. Four stars only due to long stretches of desert scenery.

1 month ago

1 month ago

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