Usery Mountain Regional Park (Mesa, Arizona) is 48 miles / 53 minutes from Roundhouse, and is part of the Maricopa County regional park system that accepts the annual pass we purchased yesterday.
We arrived there this morning around 7:30AM, and although there is plenty of parking, the place was filling up pretty well. Our target hike was the Wind Cave Trail, of which I studied little and really had no idea what to expect.
Gear-wise, we had our binoculars, hiking boots, Osprey packs with 2L of water each, and broad brimmed hats. I left the camera behind so all images here are taken with the phone.
Near the trailhead there is a restroom, information kiosk, and this corralled entrance gate, presumably designed to keep the equestrians out. During the hike we saw plenty of dogs on the trail but no bikes or horses. Neither would fare too well here, as the trail is rocky, narrow, and steep in many places.
Just past the trailhead, you cross a couple of washes / mini riparian areas like the one above. This particular area was pretty rife with Black-throated Sparrows.
After about a half mile of somewhat flat hiking, the trail really starts to go vertical on the way up to the wind cave. You can see Marie below on a typical part of the trail, which runs right along the edge with no guardrails.
A great aspect of this hike is that once you’re heading up the mountain along all the switchbacks, it’s largely in the morning shade (as seen below).
Yes, that’s a trail below. Many stretches of the trail are over such bouldered passages.
The views are spectacular, and the sun rising over the mountain above you is beautiful (image below).
It took about an hour to get up to the Wind Cave, and it was totally worth it. There is plenty of room to sit, hang out, have a snack, and soak in the views. There is also a huge honeybee colony in the cave, making for interesting observation.
There’s even a nice little sign welcoming you to the cave. : )
Above is a view from the Wind Cave. We went a little further up the side of the mountain from there, where the trail gets really primitive and sketchy. The view below is from that spot, which was another couple hundred feet above the cave.
Bird-wise, there wasn’t much happening… some Cactus Wrens, Curve-billed Thrashers, hummingbirds, House Finches, Canyon Towhee, and Common Raven. These aren’t really intended to be birding outings, as we’re just really, really, enjoying the hiking. There are so many beautiful and exhilarating places to hike here in Arizona, and it will take us years to even scratch the surface. Below is a throw away shot of yours truly.