Second & Fourth Tuesdays

All second and fourth Tuesday hikes begin at 8:00 am at trailheads located within Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Hikers should wear appropriate shoes and bring plenty of water. 


Introduction to Hiking in the McDowells
October 10, 2017: Brown’s Ranch Trailhead
(30301 N. Alma School Road)
The Cone Mountain loop trail features a gentle meander around the circumference of a small cone-shaped mountain. Easy loop; 4.1 miles;
362-ft. elev. gain.

Taliesen West
October 24, 2017: Lost Dog Wash Trailhead
(12601 N. 124th Street)
The Old Jeep Trail takes hikers to a scenic overlook that provides expansive views of the south and west valley; a 1-mile detour to a scenic overlook of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Scottsdale home offers views to south and east. Easy loop; 4.5 miles; 133-ft. elev. gain.

Life on the Ranch
November 14, 2017:  Brown’s Ranch Trailhead
(30301 N. Alma School Road)
The Maverick and Corral trails venture into an area frequented by Harris’ Hawks and includes a short detour to Cathedral Rock and the ruins of farm buildings and equipment. Easy loop; 5.6 miles; no elevation gain.

Wildlife Hike (Note: 6:45 am start time!)
December 12, 2017: Tom’s Thumb Trailhead (23015 N. 128th Street)
We will search for wildlife, including a herd of deer and coyote, while enjoying an interpretive trail describing the geological forces that led to a landslide about 500,000 years ago. The Marcus Landslide trail is fairly easy except for the final loop section which climbs to views of the landslide; 4.6 miles; 280-ft. elev. gain. There is no water at this trailhead.

Going to the Top: Brown’s Mountain
January 9, 2018: Brown’s Ranch Trailhead (30301 N. Alma School Road)
The Brown’s Mountain summit trail climbs along switchbacks to a scenic overlook. A short, steeper section leads to the summit at 3,253 feet offering expansive views of the North valley. The Upper Ranch Road Trail leads back to the trailhead. Moderate loop; 4.5 miles; 528-ft. elev. gain.

Gateway to the Preserve
January 23, 2018, Gateway Trailhead
(18333 N. Thompson Peak Parkway)
The Gateway Loop Trail is the signature hike within the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and features beautiful wild flowers and expansive views of the South Valley. Moderate loop; 4.5 miles; 737-ft. elev. gain.

Reaching the Summit: Tom’s Thumb
February 13, 2018, Tom’s Thumb Trailhead
(23015 N. 128th Street)
Climb to the top of Tom’s Thumb for stunning 360-degree views of the valley. Difficult out and back; 4.2 miles; 1000-ft. elev. gain. There is no water at this trailhead.

Climbing the Mountain: Sunrise Peak
February 27, 2018, Sunrise Trailhead
(12101 N. 145th Street)
Climb to the summit of Sunrise Peak and enjoy 270-degree views of the Valley. A short spur offers views of Four Peaks and Fountain Hills. Moderate up and down, although the scramble to the top (.2 miles) is difficult; 4.0 miles; 1218-ft. elev. gain.

Hiking the Maricopa Trail
March 13, 2018, Tom’s Thumb Trailhead
(23015 N. 128th Street)
The Rock Knob Trail takes hikers deeper into the desert north of the McDowells and returns via the Pemberton Trail, a portion of the Maricopa Trail that links parks within the Maricopa County system.  Join us as we search for the elusive badger that lives in the area. Moderately easy; 5 miles; minimal elevation; optional 1-mile loop (moderately strenuous). There is no water at this trailhead.

Wildflower Hike
March 27, 2018, Granite Mountain Trailhead
(31402 N. 136th Street)
The Granite Mountain loop trail takes hikers through dense vegetation of Palo Verde trees, Teddy Bear and Buckthorn Chollas, and a Saguaro forest with views of Four Peaks, Mt. Ord and the Mazatzal mountains. Easy loop; 4.2 miles; 320-ft. elev. gain. There is no water at this trailhead.

For maps of trails and trailhead locations in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve:


Third Saturday Hikes

All third Saturday hikes begin at trailheads located within the Maricopa County park system or National Forest. Carpool from Pinnacle Presbyterian’s Chapel parking lot (RSVP to required) or meet us at the trailhead. Please note that these are longer, more difficult hikes.  All hikers should wear appropriate shoes, bring plenty of water and pack a trail-appropriate lunch or snack.    

Challenge Hike (For experienced hikers only)
Ford Canyon Loop: January 20, 2018
Group Picnic Ramada #7, White Tank Mountain Regional Park
(20304 W. White Tank Mountain Rd, Waddell, AZ 85355)
The Ford Canyon Loop Trail is made up of the Waddell, Ford Canyon, Willow Canyon and Mesquite Canyon trails in the White Tank Mountains.  This 9.7-mile loop trail is for experienced hikers only.  The trail traverses sandy washes and requires climbing over boulders in narrow, rocky, steep areas. Features include a waterfall, an earthen dam, water-polished white granite patches and a good selection of wildflowers.  Directions: From the entrance to White Tank Mountains Regional Park, take White Tank Mountain Road to Waterfall Canyon Road, turn left, and then veer left for Picnic Ramada #7 parking lot. Note: there is an entry fee of $6 per vehicle.

On the Lost Dutchman’s Trail
February 17, 2018: First Water Trailhead
(Service Road 78, Apache Junction, Arizona 85219)
The Black Mesa Loop Trail climbs to Parker Pass with views of Boulder Canyon before winding down with views of Weaver’s Needle and crossing Little Boulder Canyon Creek.  After walking on a canyon floor, the trail climbs steeply to a mesa.  The trail meanders through Garden Valley before dropping into a shallow canyon, crossing a wash and climbing back to the trailhead. Rated Moderate; 9.3 miles; net elevation gain 473 ft.; total elevation gain 1,129 feet. Directions: Take US 60 E to AZ88 (Idaho Road), continue north on AZ88 to First Water Road, turn right for trailhead. Note: Tonto National Forest Day or Annual Pass required.

Stroll along Lake Pleasant
March 17, 2018: Cottonwood Trailhead-Castle Hot Springs Road
(use North entrance station)
(41835 N. Castle Hot Springs Rd., Morristown, AZ 85342)
This easy to moderate out-and-back trail meanders along Lake Pleasant.  Along the Pipeline trail, hikers must cross the lake using a floating bridge.  Once on the Wild Burro trail, keep your eyes open for the burros that roam the area around Lake Pleasant.  The trail ends at the Wild Burro Day Use Area and includes access to Lake Pleasant.  After stopping at the lake for a time of fellowship, we will return by the same route. Rated easy to Moderate; 8 miles; net elevation gain 388 ft.  Directions: Take AZ74 (Carefree Highway) west to Castle Hot Springs Road, continue north to Cottonwood Day Use Area.  Note: there is an entry fee of $6 per vehicle.

For more detailed descriptions and reviews of these hikes:

For more information
Please contact Christine Schild at