Granite Falls-Chuckwalla Loop

Granite Falls-Chuckwalla Loop Skyline Regional Park, Buckeye
Story and Photos Mare Czinar

Granite Falls-Chuckwalla Loop Skyline Regional Park, Buckeye

Easy, family-friendly trails are often also great choices for hiking with dogs. Whether your four-footed pal is a seasoned pro or stepping out for the first time, you’ll find a gold mine of dog-tested, dog approved trails at Skyline Regional Park in Buckeye. The park, which opened in 2016, is situated in the southern reaches of the White Mountains and offers a rich menu of hiking options that range from barrier-free strolls to difficult mountain ascents. Shaded picnic ramadas, camp sites, restrooms, water, and paved road access add comfort and convenience to a day in the outdoors.

Although the park is located just two miles north of Interstate 10, the sounds of civilization are absorbed in rolling foothills, cacti-embellished peaks and mesquite cluttered arroyos.  A good way to sample the park’s many features and awesome vistas is to hike the Granite Falls-Chuckwalla Loop. Our ‘test drive’ crew for this hike included Stephanie Markoff of Chandler, with her canines Louie, a 10-year-old Collie Doodle and Kona a 3-year-old Labradoodle. Dawn Vandell and Sarah Collins of Fountain Hills, brought along 6-year-old Lab mix, Walter. Rounding out the team were Buckeye residents and frequent park hikers, Cassie Musick and her kids Noah and Lilliana.

The trek begins by crossing a beautiful iron bridge spanning Mountain Wash.  Once over the bridge, a map kiosk shows several ways to customize the hike. We chose to walk 0.4-mile west on the Turnbuckle Trail to connect with the loop. Although both the Granite Falls and Chuckwalla trails are rated as easy, many ups-and-downs and twisty turns add a touch of challenge and variety. The dogs appreciated the mostly easy-on-the-pads terrain, sandy passages and plenty of ironwood-shaded spots for water breaks. Evidence of wildlife activity is everywhere. Coyote scat, packrat  middens, lizards, cactus wrens, complex geology, desert-adapted plants and scampering ground squirrels satisfy canine curiosity and provide teaching moments for kids. All park trails are outfitted with junction signs that show distances, location and trail maps, making it easy to get around and stay found. With its amenities, well-maintained tread, lowrisk layout, assortment of experiences and the bright spots of spring wildflowers and cacti blooms, Louie, Kona and Walter are pleased to bestow a perfect “5-paw rating” on this West Valley gem.

LENGTH: 6.24 miles
RATING: easy
ELEVATION: 1480 – 1725 feet
2600 N Watson Road, Buckeye.
From Interstate 10 in Buckeye, take the Watson Road exit 117 and go 2 miles north to the gatehouse. Turn left at the stop sign and follow the signs to the trailhead.  Dogs must be on leash always and owners must pickup and pack out all waste.

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