Explore the Natural Beauty of McDowell Sonoran Preserve

HomeExplore the Natural Beauty of McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Your Scottsdale vacation may be spent enjoying luxury experiences, dining at haute cuisine restaurants, shopping in classy boutiques, and of course, luxuriating in the comforts found in your I Love Scottsdale stunning havens, but some of your favorite moments may be the ones spent exploring the simple joys of McDowell Sonoran Preserve. This protected tract of land stretches out over 30,500 acres and offers the McDowell Mountains as a majestic backdrop, serving as guardians of nature and adding drama to the landscape. Hiking trails that traverse the area give visitors access to some of the world’s most stunning landscape. The preserve, known as the People’s Preserve, offers free admittance every day of the year and is open from sunset to sunrise. This guide to the charms of McDowell Sonoran Preserve will give you some fun ways to fill in your spare vacation minutes! 

22 Trails 

The most popular way to explore the preserve is by hiking the 22 trails that can be found crossing its 30,000+ acres. Trailheads may offer parking—including horse trailer parking, as horseback riding is allowed on many of the trails—restrooms, even shade ramadas and water sources for use by visitors. Interpretive signage will give visitors the opportunity to learn more about the flora found throughout and directional signage will ensure that hikers will not get lost. Novice hikers may want to choose the Horseshoe and Desert Parks Loop that lasts 1.7 miles, is open to hikers, joggers, and is leashed dog friendly. The Tom Thumb Trail South is one of the more difficult trails, stretching out almost 12 miles and offering an elevation gain of over 2500 feet. Open to mountain bikers as well, there is no shade on this trail and should only be undertaken during the cooler months. And because most hikers fall into the moderate range of hiking skills, the Gateway to Bell Pass is approximately 7.5 miles long and offers an elevation gain of 1735 feet, taking hikers through some of the most scenic areas of the preserve without too much effort or strain. Most of the trails in McDowell Sonoran Preserve are leashed dog friendly, but please pick up after your dog, and if the temperatures are above 90 degrees, leave them behind. 

Mountain Bike Riding 

Mountain bikers will be thrilled to explore the landscape of the preserve, as many of the trails are open to bikers. If you haven’t packed your own mountain bike, which is very likely, there are many local sporting good stores that offer rentals, including REI: Co-Op Adventure Center Arizona, located at 17465 N 93rd Street, or Bike Emporium at 8443 E McDonald Drive. Electric bikes or any motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trails, so stick to mountain bikes to avoid having your fun ended abruptly! The top three mountain bike trails are as follows: Tom’s Thumb Trail, 4.4 miles with an elevation gain of 1236 feet and a finishing time of 2.5 hours; the Gateway Loop Trail, 4.4 miles with an elevation gain of 721 feet and a finishing time of 2 hours; and the Lost Dog Wash Trail to Ringtail Trail Loop, also 4.4 miles with an elevation gain of 518 feet and a finishing time of 1 hour and 48 minutes. 

Just Breathe 

Whether you are hiking, biking, or horseback riding through the Sonoran Preserve in Mcdowell, the time spent within the boundaries of this protected area are destined to bring you moments of peace and joy. Providing a safe place for local animals to call their home, you may be able to spot a wide variety of wildlife, including shy mule deer, delicate hummingbirds, and quick and fluffy jackrabbits. The preserve is also a habitat for bats, offering 12 different species that will make their appearance each evening at sunset, so if bats aren’t your thing, stick to a morning hours hike! Many people think of the desert as an arid space, lacking in vegetation and homing only the most dangerous creatures, but the reality is the desert, including this preserve, offers up a treasure trove of plants, trees, and vegetation; you just may have to look a little harder and examine your surroundings a little closer! During the spring, however, especially after a rainy winter, wildflowers flourish, adding color, warmth, and cheer to the arid landscapes. Cacti bloom with their own flowers, trees blossom with tiny yellow or purple flowers that attract bees and butterflies, and the desert floor comes to life with a profusion of color. Keep your camera at the ready, because family back home just won’t believe the dramatic beauty you are experiencing without photographic evidence! 

Come Home to I Love Scottsdale 

After a day spent in the great outdoors, coming home to your modern I Love Scottsdale vacation sanctuary will give you comfort, coolness, and perhaps a place to soak your tired and aching muscles. Contact us and reserve your favorite escape today!