Editor’s note regarding COVID-19: Please be cautious and courteous of fellow hikers by maintaining a safe distance (at least six feet) between yourself and others at all times including on the Sonoran desert trails. I was extremely disappointed to find on my most recent hike (on the Gateway Loop Trail) that social distancing was not being practiced by many. Please follow CDC guidelines and instructions of your local authorities in all activities during this pandemic crisis.
Hiking the McDowell Sonoran Preserve Trails
As soon as the temperatures began to cool in the mornings after the hot desert summer, Mr. TWS and I put on our hiking boots and got back to hiking McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale. I’ve got two more trails to add to our list of favorite Scottsdale hikes … so far. We’ve got much more to explore since the preserve, the country’s largest urban preserve, has 182 miles of Scottsdale’s trails.
Both of these trails highlighted in this post are ones I would recommend for short hikes or as just a part of longer hikes on trails that connect with them.
Gateway Trailhead (18333 N. Thompson Peak Parkway)
Paradise Trail — Easy (Hiking, Biking, Horseback Riding)
The Paradise Trail is a fun, mostly easy trail connecting the Gateway Loop Trail and the Quartz Trail. The main access points are from trails from the Gateway Trailhead. Although it is classified as an easy trail, there are a few spots with inclines that some may consider a little more difficult. The terrain is rocky, so watch your step!
A portion of this trail weaves through McDowell Mountain Ranch residential area, but you never feel too close to homes. I love the scenery along this trail as you walk through heavy vegetation with the McDowell Mountains towering above you nearby. From some vantage points, you’ll also see vistas of the valley and the iconic Camelback Mountain. We’ve seen several bicyclists on this path, but most of them didn’t seem to having much fun with the rocky obstacles. The distance is 1.5 miles one way, but keep in mind that you’ll have already traveled on another trail before you get here, so plan accordingly.
Brown’s Ranch Trailhead (30301 N. Alma School Parkway)
Brown’s Ranch Road Trail — Easy (Hiking, Biking, Horseback Riding)
We decided to go a little farther afield trying one of the many diverse trails accessed at the Brown’s Ranch Trailhead. We chose this easy two mile trail for our first visit, although it is a primary access route from the trailhead to the Brown’s Ranch trail network.The path is mostly wide with smooth, flat terrain. When you first start out from the trailhead, power lines are visible, but they are quickly gone from sight as you head further north into the desert.
The mountain and desert scenery is beautiful with the imposing Brown’s Summit in view most all of the way. On our soon-to-do-list is Brown’s Summit Spur Trail that takes you to the top of the summit. It is designated as moderately difficult with a short, steep climb.
More Scottsdale hiking tips to come!
Be sure to check out our previous posts with our other recommendations: