Friday, June 12, 2015

Megan About Town: Discovering Scottsdale’s Sonoran Desert

Two-thirds of Scottsdale’s land is permanently protected, sustainable desert habitat acreage. That’s pretty unheard of for an urban setting like Scottsdale. Many years ago, concerned Scottsdale citizens came together to ensure that the McDowell Mountains and the surrounding Sonoran Desert areas be free of development. In 1992, the group, coined the McDowell Sonoran Land Trust (now the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy), turned to the City of Scottsdale for help to acquire more preserve land. Only a few years later, 64 percent of Scottsdale voters approved a sales tax to specifically fund land acquisition. 

Today, we see the citizen’s efforts in the breathtaking views of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The 30,000 acres of land include five trailheads and more than 130 miles of trails, which make it the ideal place for anyone to find a trail to hike, bike, or horseback ride.

I’m more of a hiker myself. And really, I mean I’m more of a casual walker. I am not looking for crazy challenges on the mountain, but I am looking for a light exercise and beautiful views. That’s what brought my friends and me to the Pinnacle Peak trail overlooking the Preserve. In fact, a fellow hiker made a comment that she often sees folks hike this trail holding a cup of coffee and wearing flip flops. I wouldn’t recommend doing that. As a rookie hiker, I felt the trail was moderate.

It was a beautiful day, and we were up early to beat the sun – and the rush. If you do decide to check out Pinnacle Peak trail, it’s good to know that it’s near residential areas as well as the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North. That means that this is a popular trail.


Because we had an early start, the light on the trail was ideal to snap a few photos of the surrounding area. And, just as I recommended in my Papago hike blog, the Pinnacle Peak trail would be a great place to bring your camera. There are several outlooks during the hike that make for great places to pull to the side and snap a couple photographs.

Take a look:

If you are looking for a more challenging hike, check out Tom’s Thumb just across the way from Pinnacle Peak. Or click here for information on all of the trails in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

The Scottsdale CVB also offers a free, downloadable Desert Discovery Guide that details area hikes, plants and animals in the area, and explores other ways to get to know the Sonoran Desert.

For me, the best part of a morning hike with friends is the inevitable brunch stop afterward. We ignored our dusty, sweaty appearances and headed over to The Breakfast Joynt at DC Market Street. They were kind enough to let us in, and we quickly demolished every bit of food we ordered.

Next time around, we’ll probably check out a Preserve trailhead. But only if eggs benedict is the prize for completing the trail.

from Official Travel Site for Scottsdale, Arizona |

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