I'll admit I was a bit apprehensive about the hike up Hermit (8 miles long, 3600 feet up, unmaintained trail)
I started at sunrise (5:30 AM) and finished 8 hrs later. You start by backtracking on the Tonto until you get the Hermit Trail junction. Then it is up, and up, and up...
I spent half my time looking back (as the views are tremendous) and appreciating as things started to look smaller down below.
The other half of the time I was looking up, feeling depressed about how much more up there was. The trail goes up through these rocks. Do you see it? I couldn't.
The vistas became better, but the trail became rougher. There were numerous rock falls that left you no choice but to scramble and climb over rocks.
About 2/3 the way up you come to a rest house at Santa Maria Spring (the only water on the trail). I rested here for quite a while since I knew the last bit was a bear of a climb.
There was a park volunteer there. His job was to count hikers and look for people in trouble and radio for help if necessary. He said it was obvious I was in good shape.
After endless steps, you come around one last curve and see perhaps the greatest viewpoint of the whole trail - the parking lot.
I had spotted my car here on day 1 with a big bag of potato chips. I couldn't believe I did this hike with zero physical problems.
However I did meet a back country park ranger on the way out. We chatted a while and I complained about the lack of trail markings
in Monument. She admitted people have been lost there before and made a note of my comments.