Distance: 2 miles roundtrip
Getting there from the South Mountain Environmental Education Center (SMEEC): The Judith Tunell Trail starts directly from the SMEEC. It is a paved, accessible trail and connects to the Las Lomitas Trail at the end of the challenge loop portion. Alternatively, you can access the Las Lomitas Trail by following the multi-use horse and bike path (Box Canyon Loop Trail) that parallels the Judith Tunell Trail.
The Judith Tunell Trail consists of two loops: the interpretive loop and the challenge loop. Each loop is ½ mile. The interpretive loop crosses the Multi-Use Trail at two points on the eastern portion of the trail. You have the option of following the Multi-Use Trail to connect with Las Lomitas trail or of following the Judith Tunell Trail. The Multi-Use Trail is a typical dirt trail and is relatively flat. It is a popular equestrian trail, so watch your step as much of the trail is covered in horse droppings.
If you choose the follow the Judith Tunell Trail, this is a very nice, paved path with interpretive signs, a drinking fountain, benches and ramadas along the way. This portion of your hike is accessible to any individuals. This is a great hike for strollers, wheelchairs, you name it. The whole family can enjoy this section. The two loops are connected via a picturesque white pedestrian bridge.
At the far south end of the Challenge Loop, the Judith Tunell Trail and Box Canyon Loop Multi-Use Trail meet up with the Las Lomitas Trail. There is an opening in the wooden fence bordering the Judith Tunell Trail here. If you want to extend your hike without needing to drive anywhere else within the park, this is a great and convenient option. For this hike, follow the Las Lomitas Trail until it connects with the popular Kiwanis Trail.
You will come to a trail sign with options for following the Las Lomitas (L) Trail to your left or to your right. The Las Lomitas Trail descends into and follows a wash, leaving the wide, flat multi-purpose trail.
The path is sandy and rocky through the wash. Vegetation along the trail includes Creosote, Triangle-leaf Bursage, Palo Verde, Saguaro, Ironwood, and Barrel cactus. Most of this portion of your hike is spent in the wash. It is important to note that while the Judith Tunell Trail portion is accessible, the Las Lomitas trail is not. This is a pleasant and relatively easy trail. There is not much elevation gain, but the terrain is difficult through the wash.
Be prepared for a short, steep climb up out of the wash. Once the trail climbs out of the wash, it is a flat stretch of trail through open desert. You will intersect with the Hideout Loop Trail, which is primarily an equestrian trail. From here the trail crosses the road for the Piedras Grandes Picnic Area. You can see the picnic facility down the road to your left. You cross the loop road again at a Y intersection. The final leg of the Las Lomitas trail follows Piedras Grandes Dr. You will pass a bathroom on your left just before reaching the Kiwanis Trailhead.
Once you meet the Kiwanis Trail you have a few options. As this hike is written, you would hit the bathroom and turn around and make your way back to the Judith Tunell Trail and SMEEC. If you have more time and are up for a bigger challenge, connect with the Kiwanis Trail. This is a beautiful hike, one of the most scenic trails in South Mountain Park. See the Kiwanis Trail review if you are interested. You could also continue following the Las Lomitas Trail heading west to make a multi mile long but easy loop back to the SMEEC via the Derby Loop and Max Delta Trails. If you choose this last option, be sure to have a map with you to navigate and plenty of water.