In March, Stella, Aspen and I took a break from the cold Colorado weather, to bask in the sun in Mesa, Arizona. I recall once hearing that hiking in the desert lacked any depth of color, and was just a mass of brown. However, that could not be further from the truth. One early afternoon, we set our sights on hiking the Wind Cave Trail inside of Usery Mountain Regional Park.
Upon entering the trailhead, I was immediately enamored by the size, various shapes and sheer number of Saguaro Cacti! The Saguaro Cactus is native to the Sonoran Desert, and prior to growing its first arm, it would have been alive for at least 75 years!!! The Saguaro Cactus lifespan typically exceeds 150 years and could grow to 40 feet tall. Though there are many variety of cacti on the trail, it is the Saguaro Cactus that stands sentry over the trail.
From the trailhead, you begin a steady incline, passing through a dry riverbed before entering a slightly more challenging portion of the hike. Roughly 3/4 of a mile into the hike you enter a point on the trail that will require you to step up, climb over and around a few boulders, for lack of better words. Once through that section of the trail, you will be at the steepest part of the ascent before it falls back to a steady climb and the final push to the trails end, Wind Cave.
Wind Cave is a large overhanging cliff face, providing scenic views of valley below. This is an out and back hike, totaling roughly four miles with a decent elevation gain of 854 feet. Overall, this was a nice quick hike with great views. For those who may be a touch more adventurous, one could leave the trail near the top and explore a bit more of the mountain.