You don’t have to choose between city life and country life when you vacation in Scottsdale, AZ! In Scottsdale, you can enjoy the upsides of the shops, restaurants, and spas located in the city, as well as the adventures of exploring the vast desert terrain right at your doorstep. A favorite place for getting outside in Scottsdale for both residents and visitors alike is the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, located just northeast of downtown!
Explore the Trails at McDowell Sonoran Preserve
Encompassing over 35,000 acres and offering 225 miles of recreational trails, there is no shortage of places to explore within the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The Preserve is popular for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. With the prohibition of motorized vehicles, this is a place to get away from the constant noise of life and connect with nature.
The McDowell Sonoran Preserve trails are well marked and maintained. The trail options are varied, from short nature loops for casual strolls or challenging summits that will leave you breathless. Tom’s Thumb is one of the more popular hikes within the preserve and is a five-mile trail that ascends the McDowell Mountains. The trailhead for Tom’s Thumb can be found at 23015 N. 128th St. Switchbacks wind their way up the mountain, offering increasingly panoramic views along the way. After 2.5 miles you’ll reach Tom’s Thumb, a massive outcropping of granite, with views beyond looking out over Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area and Tonto National Forest. Retrace your steps back to the start to complete this out-and-back hike!
Other popular hikes within the McDowell Sonoran Preserve include the Lost Dogwash Trail, Gateway Loop, and Thompson Peak. Or choose one of the less-traveled trails and discover your own favorite!
Planning Your Visit to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve
The McDowell Sonoran Preserve is located in the northeast area of Scottsdale. It is open daily from sunrise to sunset and there is no charge for parking or entry. Their website is updated frequently with sunrise and sunset times, as well as any weather warnings or guidelines you should be aware of, so be sure to check for any updates before your visit! Trail maps can be picked up at trailheads or at the Community Services Office located in Scottdale at 7447 E. Indian School Rd. Suite 300. Be sure to come prepared with plenty of water for your hike!
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