Two hiking trails recently constructed within the newest addition to the South Mountain Park and Preserve are open to the public, although the paths are not well-advertised and can be hard to find.

"The trails are definitely open," said Phoenix parks spokesman David Urbinato of the area called South Mountain 620, a large, vacant, square parcel of desert between 19th and 27th avenues in western Ahwatukee Foothills. "People can go hike them."

Cynthia Peters, the city's parks and preserve administrator, said although the park is named South Mountain 620, it's actually only 247 acres. Originally, officials planned to acquire all 620 acres of the site, she said.

Phoenix bought the portion north of Chandler Boulevard from the Arizona State Land Department in April 2009 for $18 million, she said. The property's southern half could be auctioned off to developers at some point, Peters said.

"At one point, the city was going to buy the whole thing, but that didn't happen," Peters said.

City trail experts designed the new trails, which provide a moderate to difficult hike up to South Mountain's ridge. The trails were constructed with help from the citizens group Volunteers for Outdoor Arizona at a cost of about $185,000, mainly for trail grading, she said.

The trails were finished in May but haven't been highlighted much because the area lacks significant parking and because the trailheads are not clearly marked with signs, she said. Park amenities, such as restrooms and parking, are planned for some years out, when the city has the funds, Peters said.

"There will be a trailhead there in the future," she said.

Urbinato said the existing trailheads are in the property's interior. He said the trails are accessible from Ahwatukee by walking west from the terminus of 19th Avenue and Chandler Boulevard.

"I don't think it's going to get a lot of volume because you have to walk a ways to find the trails. You have to be pretty motivated," he said.


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