★★★☆☆ Moderate / Phoenix Area
Choice views, varied terrain and a high traverse make the Pass Mountain Hiking Trail Loop a worthy day hike! Scrunched between the stunning Superstition & Mazatzal Ranges, this sweet 7.5-mile loop offers excellent views of each as it circles Usery Park’s main peak.
TRAILHEAD: 3939 N. Usery Pass Road, Mesa • DIFFICULTY: MODERATE • DISTANCE: 7.5 mile Loop • APPROX. TIME: 3.5 – 4.5 HOURS • ELEVATION GAIN: 730 FEET (52 STORIES) • APPROX. CALORIES BURNED: 1,125-1,300 • BEST TIME OF YEAR: NOV. – March • PETS: yes • KID FRIENDLY: No • FACILITIES: YES • fees: $7 day or $85 annual maricopa county pass
Looping around Pass Mountain, this trail comes fully loaded with mixed desert landscapes and extra-long views. From the shared Wind Cave Trailhead, the trail rolls northwards through gigantic Saguaro fields, framed by the bright-green lichen covered cliffs of Pass Mountain.
At its highest point, the trail crosses the cliff lined pass the mountain is named for. From here southern views over Mesa’s sprawl fill the landscape. The shade under the cliffs creates a popular resting place for hikers and horseback riders making the loop.
Pass Mountain is also sometimes called “Scarface” – for the slash of cliff that runs along its western flank. Although the Pass Mountain Hiking Trail Loop starts in Usery Park, only the western fourth of the hike is actually within it. The remaining 3/4 of the trail passes through the Tonto National Forest.
From the intersection of AZ-101 and AZ-202 (in Mesa), take AZ 202 east for 15.35 miles to exit 24 / McKellips Road. Turn left / east onto McKellips and drive 2.25 miles to Ellsworth Road / Usery Mountain Pass Road. Turn left / north onto Usery Mountain Pass Road and continue and drive for 2.7 miles to the entrance of Usery Park, on the right. Once in park drive for approximately 0.5 miles to the labeled parking area for the shared Wind Cave Hiking Trail.