An eMagazine about wheelchair-accessible events, sports & locations in Arizona

South Mountain Park

Judith Tunnel Trail
I’ve lived in Phoenix for 35+ years, and I’ve never been to South Mountain Park. Shame on me because the park has one of the best wheelchair trails in Arizona.

First off, the park is quite big. With over 16,000 acres, South Mountain Park/Preserve is one of the largest municipal park in the country. The park has 51 miles of primary trails for horseback riding, hiking and mountain biking for all ability levels.

The Judith Tunnell Trail begins just after you enter the park. The trailhead is located just behind the education center, which has some nice picnic tables, water and plenty of shade.

The trail starts off gradual and is made of hard packed gravel. It’s a very good trail for any type of chair. Half way up the hill you come to a well-constructed, yet oddly steep foot-bridge that takes you across a dry creek. And this is where the hill kicks in! For the next ¼ mile, it’s a great cardio push. I usually let Karla push me a little ‘cuz it’s so good for her calves. 😉

Once you reach the end, there is a welcome ramada. Around the shaded table is a circle that offers some real up close views of the desert and rock out cliffs. There is even a water fountain up here. Good job, Phoenix.

Coming back down happens pretty quick. You can really pick up some speed. The trail is actually a loop, which allows you to take an alternative path home.

The park definitely has wild critters living nearby. As the sun went down we could hear a large pack of coyotes howling in the rocks above us. We saw rabbit, quail and snake tracks all over which means we we rolling through the coyote’s grocery store. The view of Phoenix is great.

While you are at the park, don’t miss the chance to drive up to the top of South Mountain and enjoy Phoenix’s finest view. Be warned, it’s a steep, curvy road that will really test someone’s abilty to drive with hand controls. Going up is easy but coming down is a whole lot of braking and turning (and praying). Good stuff!

Getting there: The main entrance to the park is about seven miles south of downtown Phoenix. From Phoenix or the west Valley, drive south on Central Avenue until it ends. Its easy!

If you aren’t from Phoenix or at least the southwest, getting to this park will feel like you crossed the border. This sure ain’t Scottsdale! But relax and enjoy.

South Mountain Park Info

South Mountain Park Photos at Flickr

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  1. 2010 Phoenix Summit Challenge for Wheelchair Recreation | Accessing Arizona

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What Acessing Arizona Is All About

Accessing Arizona is primarily designed for people who are looking for wheelchair accessible events, locations and activities. If you have paralysis (paraplegic or quadriplegic), Muscular Dystrophy, Spinal Bifida, or if you are an amputee, Accessing Arizona has information about an active lifestyle.
If you are traveling to Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff, Sedona or the Grand Canyon, the site offers insight about the accessibility. We cover trails, lakes, state parks, national parks and just about anything claiming to be handicapped accessible. The site also covers sports and recreation in Arizona.
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