I wanted to hike the future route of the South Mountain Loop 202 freeway, but did not think there would be a place to park at the south end, on Pecos Rd., so started from the small non-rez community behind the Vee Quiva Casino. The new freeway will cut through the western most quarter mile or so of South Mountain Park, bisecting two small ridges at the tail end of the Gila Range. They are known on the planning maps as Main Ridge North, near the casino, and Main Ridge South, near Pecos Rd.
I followed quite old, and mostly very rough, jeep trails south towards Pecos Rd, about a .25 to .5 miles east of the right-of-way. I had seen some Whazzits? on satellite view, and checked those out. Looks like there used to be a small community between the ridges — marked as Ruins #1 and Ruins #2 on the posted route — of 6-10 buildings, plus garbage dump and several possible prospects. Further down wash was another set of at least three buildings (Ruins #3), and a house on a small hill (Ruins #4). Lots of good a graffiti in Ruins #1, which had the only remaining walls in the valley. All the saguaros in the right-of-way have been tagged, and numbered, for relocation. How do they determine where to put them?
There was fenced sheeting in several areas. Around Pecos Rd. it looks like it marks the right-of-way, but in the valley between the ridges, it appears not to. Not sure what it’s purpose is.*
I saw an outcropping of black rocks as I approached Pecos Rd. It looked like a place where there would be petroglyphs, and so there were. Plus bees. Lots of bees. I thought I could get a few photographs if I approached slowly, but the bees were having none of it. They were on me quick. Not attacking, but hovering very close. I slowly walked away, and they went with me for about a hundred yards. It was like being escorted out of a bar by several very large bouncers: A polite, very tight escort, no force, but if you resist you will get stomped. I understood the situation and complied. Only got one half decent photo. Bummer. Bees were otherwise a common presence throughout the hike …
I turned around at the utility station on Pecos Rd., and started heading northwest up the power line. There was not enough distance between the fenced rez border and the power line for the freeway to in between, so I figured it would be right of the power line. I off trailed the two spurs of Main Ridge South, which were rather steep & rocky, causing me to take the path of least resistance, and so wander off my intended track. From the Tower of Power on Main Ridge South, I took a rugged jeep trail down, north, then across the valley and up Main Ridge North. The climb was a 1 foot up for every three forward, and it was not as steep as Main Ridge South.
I spotted some graffiti on the fence around the water tanks just north of Main Ridge North, and started towards them, but it turned out to be on the rez, so instead I returned to my car.
Crappy Garmin 62S was well off today at 9.9 miles and 1625 AEG. Maybe walking under transmission lines messes with it? My Verizon iPhone had 3-4 bar reception on Main Ridge North, and I still couldn’t send a selfie to my wife.
My hike confirmed what I suspected: South Mountain Park will be little affected. No designated trails will be erased. The ruins are not really historic. So, the only suffering — and that will be quite a lot — will be the unfortunate folks who lose their homes or businesses to the freeway.
* I am told by a local Pecos Rd. resident that the sheeted off areas are a custom home development / gated community that is going in between the freeway and South Mountain Park.
GPS File: Loop_202_South_Mountain_Freeway
Distance: 8.24 mi.
AEG: 1,265 ft.
Time: 4h 01m