Monday, March 16, 2015

A Hiker’s Paradise


Ready for a little Sonoran Desert adventure? Lace up your hiking boots and head out to Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve where more than 100 miles of spectacular trails are yours to explore.

The Preserve is the largest urban preserve in the Americas, currently encompassing more than 30,200 acres of pristine Sonoran Desert. When complete, it will comprise approximately one-third of Scottsdale’s total land area, protecting it from development and ensuring the enjoyment of generations to come.

And trust us, there’s plenty to enjoy! Contrary to what you might think when you hear the word “desert,” the Sonoran is teeming with plant and animal life. In fact, more than 2,000 species of plants and nearly 700 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and insects call the Sonoran Desert home.

All of the Preserve’s trails are open to self-guided hiking. But if this is your first visit, the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy offers a variety of free guided hikes and naturalist programs, as well as several private guided hikes (fees apply), to introduce you to the desert’s many wonders. Find the activity that’s right for you, then get out and explore our amazing Sonoran Desert!

Free Hikes & Programs

Family Fridays Presentations: Join local experts and learn about common desert plants and critters. Many speakers bring special “guests” like desert tortoises, birds of prey or interesting insects to meet the crowd.

Sensing the Desert Hike: What do you see? What’s that smell? What do you hear? The desert comes alive on this fun experiential hike. Appropriate for ages 7 and older.

Pre-Wildflower Hike: Look for signs of early wildflower bloom as you learn about the strategies used and prerequisites needed by wildflowers to ensure a successful blooming season. This moderate hike is best for older children and adults with some hiking experience.

Brown’s Mountain Summit Hike: Reach the highest elevation on the Northern Preserve with fantastic views from the McDowell Mountains to the Tonto National Park in an exciting ecological and geological environment. Best for intermediate/expert hikers.

Sunrise Trail to Andrews-KinseyTrail Hike: Burn off some calories on this picturesque but challenging trek for hardy hikers. Climb 900 feet to a saddle then continue on to explore the new Andrews-Kinsey Trail which leads to a spectacular viewpoint overlooking the Fountain Hills Preserve.

Public hikes and programs take place during fall, winter and spring. Visit the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy’s event page for dates, times and additional information on these and other events, hikes and programs.

Private Guided Hikes

Bajada Trail & Saguaro Loop Trail: This easy hike is educational and fun for all ages and abilities. The Bajada Trail portion of the hike is ADA accessible.

Nature’s Pharmacy: Native people of long ago collected desert plants for their healing and restorative properties. Find out more about these medicinal plants on this easy hike.

Bird Walk: In addition to seeing the desert’s year-round residents, you’ll also see birds that migrate here for the fall and winter. Possible sightings include the phainopepla, Wilson’s Warbler and western flycatcher.

Tai Qi Hike: Before, during and after this two-mile hike, Tai Qi instructor Ray Sol will introduce warm-up exercises to loosen muscles, balancing exercises, and Qigong breathing exercises to help restore fresh oxygen to muscles.

All About Arizona: This hike on the Old Jeep Trail is a celebration of Arizona – the state flower, state tree and more. The trail’s moderate uphill sections and occasional rocky terrain make it most appropriate for adults 18 and older.

The Conservancy’s private hikes are offered year-round (mornings only in summer) by reservation only and range from $55 to $95 per person depending on the length of the hike and the number of people in your group. For more information, a complete list of private hikes, and to make reservations, contact the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy at 480-998-7971.

Before you hit the trail, download your free copy of the Desert Discovery Guide here.

from Official Travel Site for Scottsdale, Arizona |


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