South Mountain, Phoenix, AZ
At more than 16,000 acres, South Mountain Park/Preserve is the largest municipal park in the country, according to the Trust for Public Land. It boasts 51 miles of primary trails for horseback riding, hiking and mountain biking for all ability levels. The history of South Mountain Park/Preserve as a city park dates back to 1924. Prominent local citizens, with the help of Sen. Carl Hayden, bought 13,000 acres from the federal government for $17,000. In 1935 the National Park Service developed a master plan for the park with riding and hiking trails, picnic areas and overlooks, all in rustic regional character. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built many of the facilities in the park, based on this master plan.
One of my favorite things to do when I have guests coming into town is to pick them up from Sky Harbor airport and have lunch at the top of South Mountain. Lizards a plenty and sometimes tarantula’s and if your really lucky maybe some wildlife including ground squirrels.