Learn about hiking trails, local flora and fauna at San Tan Mountain park

Rangers at San Tan Mountain Regional Park this month are offering a variety of events that will help enhance the park experience for patrons of all ages. Among the events are a family hike Jan. 4 that includes a scavenger hunt for youngsters and Find the Ranger and Trailhead Chat, where Ranger Nikki will be on hand to answer questions about the local flora, fauna and trails.

Read more about these events and others below.

The events are taking place at San Tan Mountain Regional Park, 6533 W. Phillips Road in Queen Creek. For more information, call the park office at 480-655-5554 or visit its website. Entrance to the park is $6 a car. Events are included with the cost of admission.

•Night Shredders Mountain Biking: 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 3, if looking for an adventure where trail-riding abilities will be challenged, then look no further than the Night Shredders. When on a bike on the trail at night, every bump, dip and shadow gives an extra pop of adrenaline. Darkness heightens senses, sharpens skills and makes you feel more alive. The policy, “No Rider Left Behind,” means they ride together in a group for safety reasons. It is mandatory to wear a helmet and bring plenty of water, an extra tube, tools to change a flat tire and two sources of light; LED rechargeable lights with at least 650 lumen. Why? The desert gets very dark at night. Riders under 18 must complete a parental consent form. Meet at the flag pole at 5:50 p.m.

(Courtesy of Take a Hike Arizona via flickr/Creative Commons)

•Family Hike: 10-11 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 4, Are you wondering which trail to take with kids at San Tan? If so, this guided hike is a perfect introduction to hiking here with youngsters. During this 1.3-mile loop around Little Leaf and Goldmine Trails participants will learn fun facts about desert plants and animals as they “spy” for items on a San Tan Scavenger Hunt. What to bring: Closed-toe shoes, hat, sunscreen and water. Meet at the main trailhead kiosk.

•Find the Ranger: 9-11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 5, Ranger Nikki will be hiking along Goldmine Trail. Be sure to say hello and be ready for a history or plant quiz. Do you know the difference between a saguaro and a barrel cactus? Can you spot a palo verde growing along the trail? What to bring: Closed-toe shoes, water, hat and sunscreen.

•Trailhead Chat with the Ranger: 8-9 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 7, Ranger Nikki will be on hand at the main trailhead to answer questions and share hiking tips and information about the plants and animals of our park. Participants can also learn about our educational programs and discover some of the exciting volunteer opportunities we have here at the park. Be sure to bring water, hat and sunscreen.

•Guided Fitness Hike: 8-11 a.m. Monday, Jan. 8, Whether new to San Tan or a longtime visitor, a guided hike is a great way to meet new friends and get an insider’s view of the park. Volunteer Sandy will help get participants’ morning off to an invigorating start by leading them on a 5- to 6-mile moderate/difficult hike. If taking part in the 100-Mile Challenge, this is a nice opportunity to add miles to a log. What to bring: Closed-toe shoes, water, hat and sunscreen. Hydration packs and trekking poles are recommended to make the journey easier. Meet at the main trailhead map kiosk.

•Night Shredders Mountain Biking: 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 10, welcome to the San Tan Bikes sponsored “Night Shredders.” if looking for an adventure where trail-riding abilities will be challenged, then look no further than the Night Shredders. When on a bike on the trail at night, every bump, dip and shadow gives an extra pop of adrenaline. Darkness heightens senses, sharpens skills and makes you feel more alive. The policy, “No Rider Left Behind,” means they ride together in a group for safety reasons. It is mandatory to wear a helmet and bring plenty of water, an extra tube, tools to change a flat tire and two sources of light; LED rechargeable lights with at least 650 lumen. Why? The desert gets very dark at night. Riders under 18 must complete a parental consent form. Meet at the flag pole at 5:50 p.m.

•Homeschool – Rocks and Minerals Part 1: 10-11:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 11, rocks are all around in the valley. They can be huge mountain ranges, big boulders or stones under our feet. How did they get here? What are they made of? Join to learn about the rock cycle and how minerals and rocks are formed. Participants will also have a hands-on activity to explore how the process happens. Afterwards, they’ll take a short stroll outside to talk about the rock formations to see from the trail and identify rocks on the ground. Be ready for fun because this class will “rock” your socks off! General public welcome. Maximum 20 students. Meet inside the Nature Center.

•Malpais Trail Endurance Hike: 7-11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 12, pump into the new year with a tough yet invigorating 9-mile hike that tackles the Malpais Trail at the south end of our park. (This is an advanced/difficult 9-mile hike – approximately four hours.) Previous hiking experience is required. Contact Ranger Nikki to RSVP or ask questions at nikkibunnell@mail.maricopa.gov. Participants will head out on San Tan Trail just before sunrise and connect onto Malpais at the east end, getting the wash half of trail completed first. They will learn a little about the area’s geology as they trek in the sand with the hills looming above them. They’ll get back on solid and higher ground for the second half of the trail and head back to the visitor center via Hedgehog. They will stop for water, snack and rest breaks as the group needs it. Trekking poles are recommended. Bring a hydration pack, hat, snacks and a light source.

•MTB 101 – Beginner Mountain Bike Clinic and Ride: 8-10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 13, if looking to learn new skills, increase confidence on the bike, or simply enjoy the sport like never before, do the MTB 101 class. It is an introduction that teaches all the basic skills needed to ride in the desert and mountain terrain. Get to know the bike and riding equipment, learn how to balance, shift and control speed with proper braking, and become familiar with riding protocol and safety. The introductory 30-minute class is also followed by a short 3-4 mile ride to practice what they just learned. A helmet is required for safety reasons and bring plenty of water and an extra tube and tools to change a flat tire. Meet at the main trailhead.

•What’s in Your Pack?: 8-9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 13, prepared for a hike in the desert? At the main trailhead officials will have items on display that should be in a pack or pocket…just in case…regardless of the hike distance or terrain. From maps (and actually using them) to first aid and hydration participants learn how to make an outdoor journey safer and more fun. Stop by and chat with officials and learn how a few ounces of hiking prevention are worth several pounds of cure. Be sure to have water, hat and sunscreen.

•Night Shredders Mountain Biking: 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 17, welcome to the San Tan Bikes sponsored “Night Shredders.” if looking for an adventure where trail-riding abilities will be challenged, then look no further than the Night Shredders. When on a bike on the trail at night, every bump, dip and shadow gives an extra pop of adrenaline. Darkness heightens senses, sharpens skills and makes you feel more alive. The policy, “No Rider Left Behind,” means they ride together in a group for safety reasons. It is mandatory to wear a helmet and bring plenty of water, an extra tube, tools to change a flat tire and two sources of light; LED rechargeable lights with at least 650 lumen. Why? The desert gets very dark at night. Riders under 18 must complete a parental consent form. Meet at the flag pole at 5:50 p.m.

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