McDowell Sonoran Preserve Hike
|In This Guide|
|Distance||4.5 miles (7.2 km)|
|Time||2 Hours (Total Time)|
|Total Climbing||620 feet (189m)|
|Park Name||McDowell Sonoran Preserve Gateway Trailhead|
This “best of” McDowell Sonoran Preserve hike offers well-marked trails, easy climbs, nice views, and classic Sonoran desert scenery on the Gateway Loop Trail. The hike is a great intro hike to McDowell Sonoran Preserve and is suitable for all levels of hikers. And unlike Camelback Mountain, McDowell Sonoran Preserve is a peaceful oasis where you can connect with nature and unwind.
The McDowell Sonoran Preserve was created in 1990 when private citizens and the city of Scottsdale realized that they had to protect this pristine nature from development. They formed the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy, a public-private partnership. The preserve is run by and cared for by private volunteers. Very awesome.
Getting to McDowell Sonoran Preserve
Use this trailhead address: 18333 N Thompson Peak Pkwy, Scottsdale, AZ, 85255, USA
The parking lot is huge and you should be okay to find a spot.
Gear for the Hike
You can get away with fitness gear here, but hiking gear works too. Here’s what I recommend:
- Trail runners or hiking boots
- Daypack with plenty of water – this is the desert and it can get deadly when it’s hot
- Sun protection
If you want hiking gear recommendations, check out my full gear list. I only recommend and review gear that I actually use. No company pays me to push their product. Everything on my gear list is battle tested on the trails, and should work well for you too.
See The Gear I Use
McDowell Sonoran Preserve Trail Maps
The trail system is well marked and there are free trail maps at the Gateway Trailhead. The Gateway Trailhead also has water, bathrooms, and volunteers who will answer questions.
I highly recommend bringing some form of paper map with you, and then using it in conjunction with a GPS device. You can see the navigation gear that I use here (I’m currently using the Fenix 5x and love it). Just download the GPX file below and load it onto your GPS.
Many people also print out this web page for the turn-by-turn images. And if you really want to get tricky, YouTube Premium lets you download videos for offline use, so you can download the hike video and save it.
Download the Hike GPX File
View a Printable PDF Hike Map
McDowell Sonoran Preserve Hike Directions
Was This Guide Helpful?
It’s easy to help support this site (which I use to offset website hosting costs, etc.). Simply click on a link below to buy anything from REI or Amazon. I get a small percentage and you don’t pay anything extra.
Support With REI
Support With Amazon
You can also make a donation if you’d like, but please don’t feel obligated to do so.
The content on this site will always be free for everyone to enjoy.
And you can help other hikers as well. If you do this hike and something has changed, snap a few photos and email me the details. I’ll update the guide so that others can do the hike safely.