I love to hike. It is my quiet time to reflect and take in all of the beautiful scenery that Arizona has to offer. I am fortunate to have the access to the McDowell Mountain Regional Park, Fountain Hills McDowell Mountain Preserve, and the Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve trails within a few miles from my home in Fountain Hills.
Yesterday I wanted to do a pre-Thanksgiving dinner hike to try to offset the excessive amount of food I would be consuming later in the day. Typically, the hiking trails are pretty crowded on the holidays so I opted to hike the Sonoran Trail in the Fountain Hills McDowell Mountain Preserve since it is easy to get to, it is never crowded, and it would afford me the peace and solitude I was seeking.
To get there take Shea Blvd onto Palisades Blvd. Turn left on Golden Eagle Blvd until the road ends at the Eagle’s Nest community gate. There is a parking lot with bathrooms on the left just before the gate. From the parking lot cross the street and follow the leaf marked path through the subdivision for approximately .5 miles to arrive at the McDowell Mountain Regional Park trail head entrance. There is a $2.00 self pay walk-in fee per person to offset the cost to maintain the county park.
The hike begins on the Dixie Mine Trail. This trail is rated moderate with a 200 ft elevation gain. It is a pretty well traveled trail so typically you will encounter other hikers along the way. There are a few hills, but nothing too strenuous. After hiking approximately .6 miles you will come to an intersection with a sign to turn left to begin hiking on the Sonoran Trail. This trail is 2.6 miles one-way and is rated difficult with a 1065 ft elevation gain. Due to the difficult rating it is less traveled. I only saw one other hiker on this trail yesterday. The trail starts off pretty easy. There are a few hills and you are gradually climbing. Approximately .9 miles in you leave the McDowell Mountain Regional Park, then enter the Fountain Hills McDowell Preserve where the Sonoran Trail continues for another 1.7 miles. The trail gets harder at this point. There will be several hills, twist, turns and switchbacks with elevation gains and losses. You know you have reached the end of the trail when you arrive at a flat look out point with signs marking the South entrance of the Sonoran Trail and North Entrance of the Promenade and Western Loop Trail. After taking in the magnificent views of the McDowell Mountains, Mazatzal Mountains, Four Peaks Mountains, and the Fountain (of course!), turn around and follow the trail back the way you came.
DISTANCE: 7.6 miles round trip
ELEVATION GAIN: 1065 ft
DURATION: 2.5 – 4 hours, depending on how fast you hike
TRAIL STYLE: In-and-out
DOGS: Yes, if leashed
FACILITIES: Bathrooms and water fountain at the parking lot
This entry is cross posted on Phoenix NE Valley: Real Estate, Lifestyle & Living