Explore the most popular walking 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.

Nice, moderate level hiking trail with great views. Small ups and downs- nothing too strenuous. Nice to have the nature signs along the way to learn about the environment. Well maintained and Less traveled on the Sunday morning we went.

Long hike delivers a good workout. Feel it’s a bit easier to do Windgate Pass first but for more climbing near the beginning, you can first head to Bell Pass. Beautiful scenery even with grassy areas near Windgate. Not the usual desert scenery. Completely enjoyed it and it took about 4 hours. Loop trail is a plus.

My favorite place to hike. Well maintained trails, beautiful views, and you get a great workout too. Can't beat it definitely 5 star material

Nice trail but can be a bit busy on the sections that align with the Gateway Loop trail. But once your past that you will likely not see too many people. Did come across a couple mountain bike riders.

This is a nice hike to get the blood flowing. Definitely more challenging than Gateway Loop.

11 days ago

Great trail. Too many black flies in May

Great hike go early it gets hot!!

Good 10.5 mile loop if you mix in the Wingate Pass and East End Trails.

The Thumb was actually really cool to see! The approach at the beginning was a little steep, but overall not too hard. Great hike!

hiking
15 days ago

Lookout points along the trail provided a scenic opportunity to take pictures and rest. The trail was harder than expected. Lots of steep uphill areas. We did not finish and turned around half way through (which we anticipated based on other reviews). However, it was a beautiful view and we are glad to have done it (even if we didn’t finish).

Nice trail with views.

Fantastic hike but very little shade on your way up. Not overly challenging but a fantastic view at the top!

Very busy on weekends. Excellent facilities at base. Well marked. Great trail for tourists.

hiking
22 days ago

Absolute gorgeous hikes with incredible views around every corner! Got to go back this morning for a sunrise hike and it was magical to watch the light as it painted the hills around every corner. And well worth the super early rising to avoid the direct sun exposure as we snaked up the switchbacks too. This hike was so beautiful, and the geological structures so immense it makes you feel like an ant in the grand creation. Definitely a new favorite place on this planet.

hiking
22 days ago

Great hike with well maintained trails and scenic views. Agree with moderate rating. Heart rate didn’t get up super high but we did run some of it to make it more of a workout. Great nook in the “thumb” at summit to take water and snack with shade. Many switchbacks make the elevation change much less challenging than camelback hike.

beautiful trail for a run. not hard and can easily be done in an hour to 1.5 hours

This trail goes all the way up. It's a long, gradual climb to the top - somewhat challenging once you get up on the mountain, so we ran parts and hiked parts. The view from the top is totally worth it. 360-degree views of the entire valley and all its peaks! Running back down in the dark with headlamps was fun, and the terrain wasn't too challenging - felt totally safe/comfortable going at a good clip.

trail running
24 days ago

Absolutely love running this trail! Great workout. I go early at sunrise. Although the trail is marked as shorter it always clocks at 5.4-5.8 miles for me from the visitors center I think from zig zagging the terrain. Great views, and the cacti are blooming now

hiking
24 days ago

This trail is absolutely breathtaking and we will be back! Word to the wise - the park hours are serious they close at sunset - meaning a gate closes at the entrance to the park area and you may have to call to get out. We didn’t realize and had planned to do a sunset hike thinking we could stay after sunset while it was still light so it was a very quick stop but the sunset was sooooooo beautiful I would highly recommend timing your hike so you’re walking out right at sunset. Gorgeous area, wildflowers, a sweet bunny, we will definitely be back.

hiking
24 days ago

One of my favorites!

Great trail for trail running. I did part of the east end loop as well. Great views

Great easy hike, moderate is a little overstated. Very nice facilities at the trailhead and well traveled.

Very little elevation gain, but a nice dessert hike.

hiking
28 days ago

I love this trail. It’s pretty steep for the first 1.5 miles but then levels off. The views are amazing!

I love the fact that I can take one of several trails that are available. Some are moderate and some, like Sunrise Peak and the Quartz Trail, are a terrific challenge. Moreover, the views of the desert landscape and view of the surrounding mountains are fabulous. Just simply stop along the way and take in the beautiful scenery. I’m a flat lander from Illinois and think it’s spectacular there. The one thing I don’t like is people bringing dogs there. It’s rocky footing, hard on their paws and rarely do they bring enough water for them. I did have to help carry a dog down from the path going to Sunrise Peak. Wear good hiking shoes if you have them, bring plenty of water, sun screen, a hat and remember there ARE snakes there. Just be aware of your surroundings.
My name is Patrick and I approve this message.

Such a beautiful hike with amazing views. I give it “two thumbs up”.

hiking
30 days ago

Family of five with three kids in elementary school had a blast on this hike. First mile is mostly up but then flattens out for second mile to Tom’s Thumb. Beautiful views and a well-maintained trail get two thumbs up ;)

Great Hike. Well maintained trail all the way up. The steward at the top was very friendly and provide good info about the area. Took the dog with and had to keep him on the leash the whole time due to high traffic and previous reviews of snakes being more active near the trail.

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful hike just an hour out of Phoenix. Uphill the entire way out, but it’s a well kept, smooth, dirt trail, so not too strenuous. Some steep cross-backs. No trees, so being water if it’s warm! Hiking among the pebbles of giants.

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