December 25, 2019

Christmas Day Hike - Miller Canyon

I knew this morning I would be either riding my bike later in the day or taking a hike. It was cold and windy a little after 7am with a forecast showing possible showers later on. When I mentioned I might go hiking at Miller Canyon, a place I had checked out by car a few weeks ago, a friend suggested I hike the lower trailhead on the Perimeter Trail ... I did but I think I might have taken a wrong turn by following the trail marker.

I knew with the amount of wind and 44° it was going to be more challenging than I wanted riding a bike. Hiking was sounding better all the time and I knew it would give me the same workout as a bike ride if I was going by the length of time of the hike and my heart rate. That isn't why I like to hike though ... it's quiet 'out there' and in this area mostly likely I'll be surrounded by beautiful scenery.

While drinking my two cups of coffee it sure did seem that Stella was becoming a little too attached to Heidi's blanket. She isn't like Sadie who use to just take stuff and claim it was hers. In fact most of the time Stella doesn't like sleeping on a blanket. She likes the floor in the bedroom, the walk-in closet or on top of my shoes by the bed.

Heidi was sleeping at the foot of the bed on the floor in the sun. That's her daily routine. She just raised her head as she heard me walk back into the room with the camera.

I took my friend's suggestion that was in the same area I wanted to hike. This small hiking book is just wide enough to fit in the back of my jeans pocket or in a side pocket on my cargo shorts. I would be taking the top hike, starting in the lower right hand corner of the map.

The more I drove south to Miller Canyon Rd, the larger the rain drops got although it was more of a sprinkle than a rain. When I pulled into the trailhead parking lot I wasn't sure what the weather would be ... so I added a light rain jacket to my layered clothing and warm jacket. 44° and a breeze felt slightly cold but I knew the hike would warm me up. Rain was just a drizzle at the time I left.

This is the road leading into the trailhead parking lot. I came from that direction.

After staring at the trail marker below and checking the map, I continued on this trail just like the sign indicated.

About a mile and a half further up the mountain I began thinking I should have taken this trail if I had turn right at the trailer maker. I had taken what my friend had called a "more ambitious" trail and one that would give my hip a work out. You will see in the following photos what he meant. It was rocky in some spots and probably an elevation increase of 600-800 feet from the trailhead parking lot.

Based on this I went straight ahead instead of going to the trail to the right. The right thing to have done was have a better map than what is in that book. With a more detailed map it would have told me exactly which way to go. I'll spend that $6 it will take to get that detailed map at the ranger station next week. (After I get home and can see the map better on my large monitor I see I was headed the right direction and that gate I was going to turn around at was most like just around the next turn from where I turned around based on the distanced walked on my watch.)

It looked like and felt like the rain was being blown over the top of Miller Peak, opposite of where I was.

Pretty easy hiking ... little did I know how much it would change further up.

Yes that is snow on the same peaks I take pictures of from my patio. The snow and I in this photo are about 4,600 difference and I have no plans to get to the top. I am headed to a closed gate which is my turnaround point based on the trail description.

It was at this point I was questioning my decision to go straight like the marker said because if I am thinking correctly that dark mark like a fence going from left to right across the photo is the trail I will be following. The chances of finding a closed gate in that direction are slim and none I have a feeling.

Yes, that dark mark going across the photo was for me ... I'm walking that trail now in this photo.

That is not my car in the photo but that is the parking lot where my car is.

I can see I am climbing. That is looking North.

People with geology degrees would know what this is. Or people that are rock hunters or have hiked a million miles in their life time. Me ... don't have a clue.

By this time I am pretty sure I am headed for Carr Canyon ... the problem is at this elevation at Carr Canyon I would be above the point where the road is closed for the winter. Interesting.

As I made the turn I see where my trail continues ... up around that turn ... yep, I'm headed for Carr Canyon.

I rounded that turn in the photo before this one. I could see it was going to keep going for almost 2.5 miles based on my watch's activity app. I had planned to walk to the closed gate 1.3 miles away from the trailhead and turn around. So I stood there took some photos and enjoyed the beautiful view before turning around.

Yes, that water was ice cold.

Back to the bottom and across from my car. It was a great hike almost 4 miles long. That strong head wind was welcomed since I was too hot under a long sleeve thermal shirt, under a sweat shirt that was under a warm North Face Jacket topped off with my light rain jacket. I could also feel it in my legs ... it was some very good exercise for today.

It is so nice to live so close to hiking trails like this and I don't take that for granted either. I'm very fortunate to hike these trails and ride my bike in this area a little further north from where this photo is.

It was a beautiful day here in the 'Wild West' today ... still time for a short siesta.


  1. A few more hikes like that and you'll be ready to go to the top of the road and tackle the Miller Canyon Trail which climbs 2800' in 3.5 miles!

    Blowing up that page of the book you sent me, I don't think there's any more detail in the map I have than what you find in the book. In fact the map I have does not have the way-points marked off on it. My map just makes it easier to see all the trails together and how they interact with each other, and is less to carry than the book.

    If you go to then zoom in on your area you can find the same trail with slightly better, though not great, topographical data. I set up the zoom then take a screen-shot to carry with me on my phone.

    If you go to then zoom the map in, a lot, and double-click in the Miller Canyon area, then click on the inverted blue teardrop that appears, (sometimes it takes several double-clicks to get the inverted teardrop) then click on the View Products button in the box that pops up, then go to the right-pane and click "view PDF" on the first map in the list, the 2018 MILLER PEAK, AZ TNM GEOSPATIAL PDF 7.5X7.5, a pdf of the USGS topo will download. (No cost to do this, the charge is for a paper map to be sent to you.) I then move these to my phone so I can take them with me.

    Unfortunately, though rich with topo info, (I zoom in to at least 125% to see the data) the trail itself doesn't show on the USGS map. It's frustrating that it takes 2 or three different maps to get a clear picture of a hike. . .

  2. Thanks for those links. I was able to get the information you described in both links and now have them in my phone. I am going back to hike that same trail only all the way to Carr Canyon.

  3. Terrific photos and what great exercise. Bet the girls were happy to see you come back home.

    1. They were happy to see me return .... it was close to their time for lunch. LOL