San Tan Mountain Regional Park events through Jan. 17

(Photo from https://www.facebook.com/SanTanMtnPark/photos)

The following events are taking place at San Tan Mountain Regional Park, 6533 W. Phillips Road just south of the Maricopa/Pinal County line near the town of Queen Creek. For more information, call the park office at 480-655-5554 or visit its website at http://www.maricopacountyparks.net/park-locator/san-tan-mountain-regional-park/. Entrance to the park is $6 a car. Events are included with the cost of admission. The park consists of 10,200 acres south of Hunt Highway in Pinal County. Restroom facilities and water are available at the San Tan visitor center.

•Night Shredders Mountain Biking: 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 20, if looking for an adventure where trail-riding abilities will be challenged, then look no further than the Night Shredders. When on a bike on the trail at night, every bump, dip and shadow gives an extra pop of adrenaline. Darkness heightens senses, sharpens skills and makes you feel more alive. The policy, “No Rider Left Behind,” means they ride together in a group for safety reasons. It is mandatory to wear a helmet and bring plenty of water, an extra tube, tools to change a flat tire and two sources of light; LED rechargeable lights with at least 650 lumen. Why? The desert gets very dark at night. Riders under 18 must complete a parental consent form. Meet at the flag pole at 5:50 p.m.

•Solstice Sunrise Hike: 7-9 a.m. Thursday, Dec 21, join as a ranger leads the in-house hiking group, San Tan Hikers, on a hike to greet the sun on its shortest “work day” of the year. Participants will have a great vantage point to snap photos as it appears over the mountains near Pinal Peak so be sure to have a camera. Participants will make a loop that is just over 4 miles but shorter bypass routes are available. What to bring: Closed-toe shoes, water, hat, flashlight (optional) and snacks. Meet at the Main Trailhead map kiosk.
•Meet the Critters: 10-11 a.m. Friday, Dec. 22, join for a meet and greet with some of the animal ambassadors in the critter room. Find out why the park’s Gila Monster is named Jaws, how a kingsnake can swallow a mouse and breathe at the same time, what it means when a chuckwalla sneezes and more. Participants will also talk about these critters’ relatives that live out in the wild and how humans can enjoy the outdoors while respecting and protecting their habitats. Meet inside the Nature Center.

•Beginner Skill Level Mountain Bike Ride: 8-10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 23: an exciting beginner mountain bike ride among the San Tan Mountains. This 5.5-mile ride is open to all ages and skill levels. Local experts will be available to help participants understand a bike’s features and learn the ins and outs of safe riding. “No Rider Left Behind” is the policy because participants will ride together in a group. It is an opportunity to be around others who are passionate about mountain biking as a sport to have fun and get some exercise. Helmets are required. Under age 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Essentials: water, helmet, extra tube, tools to change a flat tire. Meet at the San Tan Trail sign at the main trailhead.

•Family Hike: 10-11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 23: Wondering which trail to take with the kids at San Tan? If so, this ranger-led hike is a perfect introduction to hiking with youngsters. During this 1.3-mile loop around Little Leaf and Goldmine Trails participants will learn fun facts about desert plants and animals as they “spy” for items on a San Tan Scavenger Hunt. What to bring: Closed-toe shoes, hat, sunscreen and water. Meet at the main trailhead map kiosk.

•Sonoran Desert 101: 8:30-9:30 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 24, whether participants are a new desert dweller or a longtime resident, they will enjoy an introduction to the Sonoran Desert landscape. How do plants and animals survive in a place that receives less than 10 inches of rain per year? This mile-long walk will explore some of nature’s efficient survival strategies that allow them to do so. Participants will also touch upon San Tan’s interesting geologic and cultural history. What to bring: Closed-toe shoes, water, hat and sunscreen. Meet at the flagpole.

•Night Shredders Mountain Biking: 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 27, welcome to the San Tan Bikes sponsored “Night Shredders.” If looking for an adventure where trail riding abilities will be challenged, then look no further than the Night Shredders. When on a bike on the trail at night, every bump, dip and shadow gives an extra pop of adrenaline. Darkness heightens senses, sharpens skills and makes one feel more alive. The policy, “No Rider Left Behind,” means they ride together in a group for safety reasons. It is mandatory to wear a helmet and bring plenty of water, an extra tube, tools to change a flat tire and two sources of light; LED rechargeable lights with at least 650 lumen. Why? The desert gets very dark at night. Riders under 18-years of age must complete a parental consent form. Meet at the flagpole at 5:50 p.m.

•Sunset Photography Walk: 5-6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 28, Join for a short walk to explore vantage points for capturing a desert sunset. Participants will discuss some artistic elements that help create a great image and test different photo techniques. This is a way to get acquainted with a standard digital or phone camera. What to bring: Closed-toe shoes, water and a camera. Meet at the main trailhead map kiosk.

•Kids’ Photo Stroll: 10-11 a.m. Friday, Dec. 29, Hey youngsters, bring your favorite adults and even a leashed dog and participants will take a little walk around the park to take some photos. Participants will learn about portrait, landscape and still life photography as they search for cool subject matter and backdrops. They’ll even talk about how people took photos in the “olden days.” What to bring: Closed-toe shoes, water, hat and a regular or phone camera. Meet at the Main Trailhead map kiosk.

•Snake Feeding: 7-7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 30, while it’s usually considered bad manners to stare at someone who is eating, the king snake and gopher snake are more than happy to have an audience watch as they gulp their dinner. Stop by to witness these critters demonstrate the fine art of swallowing prey that is bigger than their heads. Note to the squeamish: the snakes are fed thawed mice. The classroom can only accommodate around 50 people for the viewing so arrive early. Meet inside the Visitor Center.

•Festive Flashlight Walk: 7:30-8:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 30, participants can’t beat spending the almost-last night of 2017 walking in the dark desert with family, friends and maybe even a coyote or two. Participants will stroll along the trails checking high and low for bats, owls, bugs and any flash of eyes in the darkness. To celebrate the end of year participants are welcome to add some pizzazz to the evening by wearing festive clothing and bringing glow sticks. This family-friendly walk will be just over a mile long. Meet at the flag pole.

•Desert Walk and Talk: 9-10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 2, join longtime volunteer Robert for a fun and informative one-mile walk. Learn some of San Tan’s rich history and discover interesting facts about the Sonoran Desert’s unique plant life. Essentials: Closed-toe shoes, hat and water. Meet at the flagpole.

•Night Shredders Mountain Biking: 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 3, if looking for an adventure where trail-riding abilities will be challenged, then look no further than the Night Shredders. When on a bike on the trail at night, every bump, dip and shadow gives an extra pop of adrenaline. Darkness heightens senses, sharpens skills and makes you feel more alive. The policy, “No Rider Left Behind,” means they ride together in a group for safety reasons. It is mandatory to wear a helmet and bring plenty of water, an extra tube, tools to change a flat tire and two sources of light; LED rechargeable lights with at least 650 lumen. Why? The desert gets very dark at night. Riders under 18 must complete a parental consent form. Meet at the flag pole at 5:50 p.m.

•Family Hike: 10-11 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 4, Are you wondering which trail to take with kids at San Tan? If so, this guided hike is a perfect introduction to hiking here with youngsters. During this 1.3-mile loop around Little Leaf and Goldmine Trails participants will learn fun facts about desert plants and animals as they “spy” for items on a San Tan Scavenger Hunt. What to bring: Closed-toe shoes, hat, sunscreen and water. Meet at the main trailhead kiosk.

•Find the Ranger: 9-11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 5, Ranger Nikki will be hiking along Goldmine Trail. Be sure to say hello and be ready for a history or plant quiz. Do you know the difference between a saguaro and a barrel cactus? Can you spot a palo verde growing along the trail? What to bring: Closed-toe shoes, water, hat and sunscreen.

•Trailhead Chat with the Ranger: 8-9 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 7, Ranger Nikki will be on hand at the main trailhead to answer questions and share hiking tips and information about the plants and animals of our park. Participants can also learn about our educational programs and discover some of the exciting volunteer opportunities we have here at the Park. Be sure to bring water, hat and sunscreen.

•Guided Fitness Hike: 8-11 a.m. Monday, Jan. 8, Whether new to San Tan or a longtime visitor, a guided hike is a great way to meet new friends and get an insider’s view of the park. Volunteer Sandy will help get participants’ morning off to an invigorating start by leading them on a 5- to 6-mile moderate/difficult hike. If taking part in the 100-Mile Challenge, this is a nice opportunity to add miles to a log. What to bring: Closed-toe shoes, water, hat and sunscreen. Hydration packs and trekking poles are recommended to make the journey easier. Meet at the Main Trailhead map kiosk.

•Night Shredders Mountain Biking: 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 10, welcome to the San Tan Bikes sponsored “Night Shredders.” if looking for an adventure where trail-riding abilities will be challenged, then look no further than the Night Shredders. When on a bike on the trail at night, every bump, dip and shadow gives an extra pop of adrenaline. Darkness heightens senses, sharpens skills and makes you feel more alive. The policy, “No Rider Left Behind,” means they ride together in a group for safety reasons. It is mandatory to wear a helmet and bring plenty of water, an extra tube, tools to change a flat tire and two sources of light; LED rechargeable lights with at least 650 lumen. Why? The desert gets very dark at night. Riders under 18 must complete a parental consent form. Meet at the flag pole at 5:50 p.m.

•Homeschool – Rocks and Minerals Part 1: 10-11:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 11, rocks are all around in the valley. They can be huge mountain ranges, big boulders or stones under our feet. How did they get here? What are they made of? Join to learn about the rock cycle and how minerals and rocks are formed. Participants will also have a hands-on activity to explore how the process happens. Afterwards, they’ll take a short stroll outside to talk about the rock formations to see from the trail and identify rocks on the ground. Be ready for fun because this class will “rock” your socks off! General public welcome. Maximum 20 students. Meet inside the Nature Center.

•Malpais Trail Endurance Hike: 7-11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 12, pump into the new year with a tough yet invigorating 9-mile hike that tackles the Malpais Trail at the south end of our park. (This is an advanced/difficult 9-mile hike – approximately four hours. Previous hiking experience is required. Contact Ranger Nikki to RSVP or ask questions at nikkibunnell@mail.maricopa.gov. Participants will head out on San Tan Trail just before sunrise and connect onto Malpais at the east end, getting the wash half of trail completed first. They will learn a little about the area’s geology as they trek in the sand with the hills looming above them. They’ll get back on solid and higher ground for the second half of the trail and head back to the visitor center via Hedgehog. They will stop for water, snack and rest breaks as the group needs it. Trekking poles are recommended. Bring a hydration pack, hat, snacks and a light source.

•MTB 101 – Beginner Mountain Bike Clinic and Ride: 8-10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 13, if looking to learn new skills, increase confidence on the bike, or simply enjoy the sport like never before, do the MTB 101 class. It is an introduction that teaches all the basic skills needed to ride in the desert and mountain terrain. Get to know the bike and riding equipment, learn how to balance, shift and control speed with proper braking, and become familiar with riding protocol and safety. The introductory 30-minute class is also followed by a short 3-4 mile ride to practice what they just learned. A helmet is required for safety reasons and bring plenty of water and an extra tube and tools to change a flat tire. Meet at the Main Trailhead.

•What’s in Your Pack?: 8-9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 13, prepared for a hike in the desert? At the main trailhead officials will have items on display that should be in a pack or pocket…just in case…regardless of the hike distance or terrain. From maps (and actually using them) to first aid and hydration participants learn how to make an outdoor journey safer and more fun. Stop by and chat with officials and learn how a few ounces of hiking prevention are worth several pounds of cure. Be sure to have water, hat and sunscreen.

•Night Shredders Mountain Biking: 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 17, welcome to the San Tan Bikes sponsored “Night Shredders.” if looking for an adventure where trail-riding abilities will be challenged, then look no further than the Night Shredders. When on a bike on the trail at night, every bump, dip and shadow gives an extra pop of adrenaline. Darkness heightens senses, sharpens skills and makes you feel more alive. The policy, “No Rider Left Behind,” means they ride together in a group for safety reasons. It is mandatory to wear a helmet and bring plenty of water, an extra tube, tools to change a flat tire and two sources of light; LED rechargeable lights with at least 650 lumen. Why? The desert gets very dark at night. Riders under 18 must complete a parental consent form. Meet at the flag pole at 5:50 p.m.

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