Favorite R2R2R Training Hikes

Listed below are my favorite, significant training hikes when preparing for R2R2R. I do a couple of these each week for 3-4 months prior to an R2R2R attempt. There are other, lesser hikes too, but these are the big ones. A goal is to accumulate 50,000-100,000 feet of elevation gain during the 3-4 month period. In my younger years, I would couple these hikes with 5-10 mile runs once or twice per week, but gave up running in 2004 due to a failing knee. Trail distances and accumulated elevation gains listed below are from GPS tracks and are only approximate.

Phoenix Mountains Trifecta
Phoenix Mountains Trifecta

This is my favorite training hike and a staple during training season. It involves climbing both sides of Camelback Mountain (Echo first, then Cholla), and then driving over to Piestewa Peak and climbing that one too. Total accumulated elevation gain is about 3750'. "Trifecta" is a name I made up for this hike. No one else calls it by that name except for hiking buddy Doug Minderlen, who also does this one.
Shaw Butte - North Mountain

This was my original "long" training hike and one that I did regularly during the first 20 years. It is close to home and an easy one to knock off on the way home from work. Now that I am retired and have the time to go wherever I want, I rarely do this one since I have tired of it somewhat. The hike begins by going up the Shaw Butte road (start at the Central trailhead), down the backside, over to North Mountain and up its west side, and then down its SE side into North Mt. Park. Turn around and retrace steps back to the Central trailhead. When finished, you have climbed Shaw Butte twice and North Mountain twice for an accumulated elevation gain of approx. 3000'. I call it SBNM-NMSB.
North Mountain-Shaw Butte

Related to the one above and using some of the same trails, this one begins at North Mt. Park, climbs North Mountain via its SE side, descends the west side, then over to and up the "backside" of Shaw Butte. Retrace steps back to North Mt. Park for 2 ascents of North Mountain and 1 of Shaw Butte. This one is also close to home and a convenient one to do when I don't feel like driving very far or don't have a lot of time. Total accumulated elevation gain is around 2250'. I call this one NM-SB-NM.
center> Toms Thumb to Thompson Peak
Toms Thumb to Thompson Peak

This is a hike that I put together after studying the map for the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The hike begins at the Toms Thumb trailhead at the north end of the McDowell Mountains and follows trails southerly until intersecting Thompson Peak Road. Turn right and follow the road to the Thompson Peak summit. There are 3 significant climbs on the route: (1) the Toms Thumb trail to the East End plateau, (2) Thompson Peak Road, and (3) the East End trail back up to the East End plateau on the return. I like this one because it offers a lot of elevation gain and more trail miles than some of the others. Thompson Peak road is STEEP, one of the steepest roads you will encounter, and a great leg workout. Accumulated elevation gain for the entire route is around 4200'.
Siphon Draw to Peak 5024
Siphon Draw to Peak 5024

Known by most as "The Flat Iron", this hike begins at Lost Dutchman State Park and climbs Siphon Draw to the western Superstitions high point, Peak 5024. I typically skip going out onto the Flat Iron as I've been there many times before and that extra side trip doesn't add any significant elevation gain. This one is a real leg-buster and is sort of like doing two Camelback hikes, back-to-back. Accumulated elevation gain to Peak 5024 is around 3000'.
Siphon Draw to Peak 5057
Siphon Draw to Peak 5057

This hike is like the one above in that it begins at Lost Dutchman State Park and climbs Siphon Draw; however, instead of stopping at Peak 5024, continues on along the Superstition Ridgeline to its highpoint at Peak 5057. Retrace steps back to Lost Dutchman State Park. All in all, you are doing the western 2/3 of the Superstition Ridgeline in both directions, which is more difficult than doing the entire Ridgeline, end-to-end. I've used this one as a R2R2R readiness hike, to gauge my fitness level before tackling the Canyon. Often, it leaves me depleted enough to doubt my fitness level. Accumulated elevation gain is around 5500'.
Peak 5057 from Carney Springs
Peak 5057 from Carney

This one is similar to the one above in that the destination is highpoint Peak 5057 on the Superstition Ridgeline; however, it begins at the east end of the Ridgeline and traverses the eastern third and back. I don't use this one often because you can get a similar workout at Siphon Draw with a shorter drive. Accumulated elevation gain is around 3400'.

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