The regional park lies at the southeast edge of greater Phoenix, bordering Gilbert and Queen Creek. The main entrance is on the east side, along Phillips Road, off Thompson Road, and here are found all the facilities, including a large carpark. The entrance is open every day of the year, and admission (2018) is $7 per vehicle. Two lesser-used, non fee-paying approaches are from the north, along Wagon Wheel Road/Skyline Drive (the Goldmine trailhead), and in the south, along Brenner Pass Road, the Rock Peak Wash trailhead; all roads are paved. Elevations in the park range from 1,550 feet, along the northwest edge, to 2,495 feet, in the Malpais Hills
, which form the eastern portion of the San Tan range and are characterized by a very steep north face, rising abruptly from a gravelly wash along the base. Other named features include Rock Peak
, a detached, conical summit near the southern entrance, and The Gap
, a pass through a narrow ridge.
Map of San Tan Mountain Regional Park
San Tan Mountain Regional Park is crossed by over 20 miles of intersecting trails, allowing many loop hikes, the shortest 1.6 miles (Littleleaf Trail and the south end of the Goldmine Trail). The most strenuous is the Goldmine Trail, as its central section involves an ascent and descent of steep, rocky slopes, in the middle of Goldmine Mountain. The remainder of the routes, although sometimes long, are generally easy, most either crossing flat land between the peaks, or following dry washes. All trails are multiple-use, open to cycles and horses, any many are wide, formerly vehicle tracks.
Trails are summarized below. Perhaps the best medium length hike, experiencing a variety of scenery and environments, is the 7.5 mile loop along the Goldmine, Dynamite, San Tan and Moonlight trails
- Dynamite Trail, 2.4 miles - winding path through the western portion of Goldmine Mountain, mostly elevated and so providing good views
- Goldmine Trail, 2.5 miles - the most strenuous route, this links the Phillips Road and Wagon Wheel Road entrances, crossing a steep-sided ridge in the middle of Goldmine Mountain
- Hedgehog Trail, 1 mile - mostly level connector between two sections of the San Tan Trail
- Littleleaf Trail, 0.7 miles - east path through flat, bushy land near the main entrance; provides an alternative to the southernmost section of the Goldmine Trail
- Malpais Trail, 4.1 miles - the remotest and least used path in the park; a loop off the San Tan Trail. Half follows a gravelly wash at the foot of the steep slopes of the Malpais Hills, while the remainder is along shallow valleys between low ridges
- Moonlight Trail, 1.3 miles - easy route over flattish ground with many saguaro and palo verde. Links two points along the San Tan Trail
- Nature Trail, 0.3 miles - interpretive loop just north of the entrance station, passing a selection of Sonoran Desert plants, and also a pond beside a rusty windmill
- Rock Peak Wash Trail, 0.9 miles - links the Brenner Pass Road Trailhead with the south end of the San Tan Trail, via a sandy dry wash running between two hills
- San Tan Trail, 6.4 miles - long circuit over fairly level land in the middle of the park, forming an 8 mile loop with part of the Goldmine Trail.
- Stargazer Trail, 0.8 miles - easy, partly elevated path across sloping ground, linking the San Tan and Moonlight trails.