Explore the most popular hiking trails in McDowell Sonoran Preserve with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

So, me and my mom went on this trail for a hike. We wanted an easier one because it was kind of sunny and hot. It was pretty level and we hiked for a while and just followed the lost dog trail until we got to Taliesin Look Out. It was fun on the way back because the sun was behind the clouds, the weather was very nice, and it was mostly down hill or completely level so it was very easy. I suggest that you bring some music and some snacks because we hiked 3 miles there and back. Thank you for reading!

Started at around 8 am Saturday morning and got there just as some of the early birds were finishing so got a great parking spot!
beautiful hike and I would say definitely moderate ( some parts pretty easy and more challenging near the top)
my Fitbit clocked it at 3.75 km up so 7.5 km total. would do again but hopefully get there for sunrise next time

2 days ago

For regular hikers is moderate. If you're not a regular hiker this is a difficult hike. First half is almost all uphill very steep switchbacks. Then a short section of level then another steep climb to the top. Sunscreen & water!

very rocky trail..lots of short switchbacks ..takes a lot of time.start at trailhead for this hike..more mileage from preserve trailhead..go early..lots of water and dont forget sunscreen..I needed some on the way down..had to borrow..great views

A bit of a climb in the first 1/3 then pretty easy to the top. Great views of Scottsdale at the top and Fountain Hills just before the top. Really enjoyable hike.

Per the Preserve docents and the info on display at Gateway trail head, this is a 9.5 mile loop. I went counter-clockwise to get more incline in the first part of my hike. Recent storms have washed a lot of dirt and sand off the trails. I prefer that as it leaves a more packed trail, although somewhat more rocky, and currently, footing is solid. Fabulous views in the canyon! I actually had to sit down on the trail in the most treacherous, steep part to avoid loosing my footing due the high winds the day I hiked. Took 4 hours total.

4 days ago

Nice incline for the first 1.5 miles. Breathtaking views. Slippery and steep on the way down. Not for casual hikers.

5 days ago

Took about an hour and fifteen minutes just keeping a brisk walking pace. Got in and out just before sunset. Really rocky in most parts of the trail so look where you are going. Not too much elevation but it’s a good quick hike.

6 days ago

Did this on Saturday and got rained out but made it to the thumb and back. A fun experience.

very pretty

My favorite McDowell trail - rugged but beautiful and very doable!

Good for kids

Nice easy hike on a gravel and sand marked trail. Some ups and downs, but not too strenuous. Went around 4:30 pm and was mostly shaded. Finished around 6:30 with a brisk pace on the way back. Can’t see the sunset here but beautiful colors on the surrounding mountains and area.

Excellent work out

Great hike. Last night there was a big storm so the trail was somewhat washed out, loose rocks and pebbles, but on the other hand beautiful green ocotillos and a couple of water creeks. It worth it!

Easy fun trail.

My first ever hike in Arizona (I ended up doing six in six days during my visit). Very enjoyable and simple, with great views every time you turn around. Lots of parking at the trailhead, as well as very friendly staff (volunteers?). I was there on a Saturday in late September at about 9:30 AM, and there were tons of people, mostly finishing, although they were spread out, so it wasn't a problem. Only saw one or two people going up while I was on my way down.

Killer beginning, but well worth pushing all the way to the top. Amazing views in every direction!!!

Beautiful, moderate, pet friendly trail. I recommend going at sunrise to get a stunning view of the valley and surrounding mountains.

21 days ago

It was way rockier than expected but was a fun workout. I ran out of water though (bring more than a bottle). Very scenic cacti❤️
I’ll be doing Tom’s Thumb next☹️

Perfect trail for beginners with a scenic view

Great hike but I clicked it at 5.6 miles took us 3 hours, everyone was nice on the trail.

Found an earring on the trail, partial hoop diamond- if anyone lost please let me know!

mountain biking
24 days ago

This is NOT a moderate mountain biking trail. It’s super rocky and very technical. It is only for the advance rider and one who is in excellent shape. I am an intermediate skilled rider and this trail kicked my ass. I crashed once and had to walk the bike through some very sketchy spots. Proceed with caution.

Great views from the summit. If anyone lost a rock, painted with Relax on it......please contact me, I found on trail. atthepost1017@gmail.com

This was longer than the review; it came in around 4.7 miles from my calculations. I enjoyed this hike and it was a great workout! Definitely a challenging hike for me, especially the last 1/4 had steep, rocky switchbacks. The views were definitely worth the climb and I loved seeing the fountain. Very clean and well kept trail. Loose gravel and pretty rocky at parts, so just take it slow when needed so you don’t fall! Would definitely do it again!

28 days ago

Started our September hike at 8:15. (Should have started at 7:45 due to the heat) on a busy Saturday morning. Saw numerous dogs and young children and thought this would be a nice easy hike. Ha. Didn’t see any dogs and only 2 little super girls complete the loop as it appeared many chose a distance to go out and back. Would call this hike comfortably challenging and a good workout.

Took the counter clockwise loop. This way added .2 to the trail summit and .2 less on the return. Hike had a decent elevation change.

Beautiful scenery as the crowds thinned out after a mile in. Many jagged rocks especially on the downhill return made me realize I need stronger bottomed hiking shoes.

As with many of these All Trail short mileage estimates, I clocked over 5 1/2 miles to and from the parking lot.

Nice hike. Would do it again.

good trail. nice hike . but somewhat dull

Start early, it gets hot quickly. Good hike but very rocky. Lots of people out on the trail. We saw a couple of chipmunks darting around. Great view of Scottsdale near the top.

29 days ago

First mile is very difficult. After that it’s pretty easy. Great view

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