The Maxine Lakin Nature Trail, also known as trail #60, is a 1.2 mile loop on North Mountain – part of the North Mountain & Shaw Butte park in north Phoenix, Arizona. Its central location in the Phoenix metro makes this a great park to explore when you’re short on time but want to get a quick hike in. With several convenient trailhead parking lots plus a bunch of intersecting trails, you can hike here often and still mix it up for something new.
While I hike pretty frequently in North Mountain and nearby Shaw Butte and Dreamy Draw parks – all part of the Phoenix Mountains Preserve, I had definitely overlooked the Maxine Lakin Nature Trail #60. Partly because it’s such a short loop, and partly because it wasn’t well marked as it branches off of the more popular trail #100, this trail didn’t seem like it would be much of a hike.
I had an opportunity to volunteer with a crew doing trail maintenance on North Mountain last weekend and we spent a gorgeous Saturday filling in washouts, re-routing drainage off the trail, smoothing the trail surface and trimming desert shrubs on trail #60. I learned this trail is popular with mountain bikers and this group GROAZ wanted to help make the trail safer and easier to use for both bikers and hikers.
Volunteering to help maintain trails is an amazing way to give back to the parks we hike in and enjoy. It was great exercise, well organized, plus an awesome way to meet new people who also enjoy hiking. In the Phoenix area, check out the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Park Steward program for volunteer opportunities or search your local parks website
After spending the day getting to know trail #60, I have a new appreciation for this little 1.2 mile loop and decided to head back and hike it on Sunday, adding in a few additional miles via the connecting trails.
The Maxine Lakin Nature Trail #60 starts with the Charles M. Christienson Memorial Trail #100 from the north parking lot at Mountain View Park off 7th Ave and W Cheryl Dr. A few yards up the trail you’ll see a brand new sign showing both trail markings. Continue up the trail (which is at this point more of a gravel access road) until you reach the split about .2 miles in. Trail #100 splits off to the left and you’ll continue on trail #60.
At 0.3 miles, you’ll reach the beginning of the loop and can continue either clockwise or counter clockwise. Clockwise means you’ll be doing the steeper ascent first with a more gradual descent after you reach the highest point of this trail. Take the loop counter clockwise for an easier climb, but more steep descent. Either way, there’s only about 200 feet of elevation gain on this entire trail so it’s pretty reasonable for most hikers.
Taking the loop clockwise, you’ll be walking on trail that is 3-5′ wide with more rocky terrain on the left and a smoother dirt surface on the right side. The trail narrows a bit as it heads up the mountain with slightly rockier walking surface in places. Around the highest point, you’ll see trail #60 takes a right turn and heads back down.
There’s an optional connector trail that veers a bit left here and heads up to the ridgeline. This is an unmaintained and unofficial section of trail or “social trail” connecting to the North Mountain National Trail. Use caution climbing up this steeper side trail as it is much more narrow with loose, rocky tread. Taking this connector trail to North Mountain National Trail and up to the summit of North Mountain adds about 600 feet of elevation gain and about 1 mile of additional distance.
Once you’ve enjoyed the panoramic views of Phoenix from the top, head back down the connector trail and rejoin trail #60 to complete the loop. From here the trail descends and widens again, sloping gently back toward where you started.
Overall, not a spectacular hike, but a nice easy loop with views of the surrounding neighborhood. Easy enough for children and beginner mountain bikers. If your goal is to watch sunset from the top of North Mountain, this is a nice alternative to the more popular and very busy North Mountain National Trail.