An Ahwatukee-based nonprofit fighting the development of the South Mountain Freeway is taking its message to the center of the argument by hosting a hike on South Mountain.

The Sweetheart Hike, for the love of South Mountain, will begin at 8 a.m. this Saturday, Feb. 8. Participants will meet at the Telegraph Pass trailhead near Desert Foothills Parkway and 7th Street. The hike will go along Telegraph Pass and finish along the Pyramid Trail, ending at the 19th Avenue and Chandler Boulevard trailhead. A free shuttle will take hikers back to their cars.

“The best thing about this hike is it just makes it real to people that we’re talking about this mountain being destroyed,” said Pat Lawlis, president of Protecting Arizona’s Resources and Children (PARC.) “Although the entire mountain won’t be destroyed, the environment would be destroyed by the freeway and the quiet would be destroyed. One of the things that strikes me most when I go hiking is how peaceful and quiet it is. When I stand up on top of that mountain and I think about the kind of noise I would hear if there were a freeway down below it would be annoying.”

The hike is a small fundraiser for PARC. The group will have T-shirts for those who register for the hike and donate to the group. All funds raised will go toward expert testimony and legal fees as PARC continues to point out to the Arizona Department of Transportation the harmful effects a freeway in the area would have.

Lawlis said the hike is fit for all levels of experience. Beginners can do just the Telegraph Pass portion of the hike, which would be about a mile and a half, or more experienced hikers can carry on along Pyramid Trail.

Those who are interested can learn more about the issue and register for the hike at protectazchildren.org.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com.

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