Bell Pass and Windgate Pass Trail Loop

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McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Bell Pass and Windgate Pass Trail Loop is a 9.9 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Fountain Hills, Arizona that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, and mountain biking.

Distance: 9.9 miles Elevation Gain: 2,148 feet Route Type: Loop

hiking

mountain biking

nature trips

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

no shade

hiking
1 day ago

Fun fun hike. Nice views and also has a couple of connecting trails that you can extend your hike with. If you have the time I would suggest connecting to trails that lead you Toms thumb. Make sure you bring plenty of water.

hiking
1 month ago

Agree with Katrina, spectacular wild flowers - thought windgate was even more impressive though. I captured the hike on video, for reference you can check out the hike on my channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoFCcB03vM-nepESoPJ4KvA

Spectacular wild flowers up to bell pass (and throughout the trail)! The best I have seen in AZ this season.

hiking
no shade
rocky
2 months ago

hiking
no shade
rocky
3 months ago

First time parking at the lot off Bell and 24th. Cool little lot that had more parking spaces than I anticipated. I did this on Saturday (02/08/2020) so I started before sunrise just in case. If you head up Bells Pass first (heading counter-clockwise) and the way I think AllTrails wants you to go, you're going to get the bulk of the elevation right off the bat. This is the way I went as it's the most challenging. The other benefit in heading to the right first is you get off the Gateway Trail sooner and get onto Bells Pass. If you love people, dogs, housewives from Scottsdale using the trail as social hour and baby strollers (no joke, I saw a baby stroller on Saturday) - then by all means, remain on the Gateway. It's the easiest loop in the McDowell and the bane of its existence. I wanted to get this one VERIFIED COMPLETED courtesy of AllTrails and thus, I got it over and done with. If none of those things bother you and/or you don't want a challenging hike, then head up Windgate Pass first (stay straight in the beginning instead of going to the right - i.e., clockwise) you'll get a lot less elevation gain in the beginning and thus, it is much more gradual. Of course, it'll be more difficult on your knees heading down Bells Pass. Lots and lots and lots of loose rock so ankle twisters, beware. Beautiful scenery and not a lot of people at all once you get off the god-forsaken Gateway loop. I've almost completed all of the trails at the McDowells and thankfully, I don't need to visit the Gateway any longer. Yayyyy!

4 months ago

Training for the CureSearch Ultimate Hike. 2020. click link for details. https://linktr.ee/deborah.j.adams

hiking
rocky
8 months ago

We did this yesterday (9/8) and it was a good hike with some nice views of the surrounding land. We went clockwise which is opposite of the one given here and a direction that might be better for less serious hikers as it’s a more gradual incline. Pretty warm (up to 88) but looking forward to doing it again once it cools down. Trail was in great shape. Water fountains at the trail head were amazing.

Great trail, be sure to Go early!

mountain biking
Tue May 28 2019

This trail kicked me in the teeth. I took my mountain bike for a walk up most of that first nasty assent. Almost hit a deer after the sun went down 5 miles into the 9.9. I have a headlight on my bike but don’t be a fool like me lol. I’m not going to be in the Olympic Games anytime soon but I’m also not slow. I would plan for 3 hours on this one.

hiking
Thu Mar 28 2019

Lots of small stones on trail, no water. Much more dehydration than prepared for. Poor wills, great horned owl, coyotes howl every night. Great view of pristine valley on east side, views of Scottadale on west side. Great trail east to McDowell mountain park visitor center. Gateway to McDowell section hike of Maricopa County Trail. Tons of Phainopepla An individual Phainopepla eats at least 1,100 mistletoe berries per day, when they are available.

hiking
Sat Dec 29 2018

This is a tough trail because of distance. The Bells Pass portion is a steady, unrelenting climb upwards, but a rewarding view from the Pass. It loops around the backside of McDowell Peak and up again to Windgate Pass in a rather unceremonious way. Windgate is nothing special, but there is some unique plant and rock formations on that part. Nice to be away from the crowds once you get off the Gateway Loop.

Tue Nov 20 2018

I hiked this with two dogs on a Monday morning in November. No shade so bring PLENTY of water (for the dogs) . Great views when you reach Bell Pass. Didn’t see another person for 2 hours when I was East of Bell Pass.

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

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