Sonoran Preserve Trails

 

 

Trail Restrictions for Dogs - Dogs prohibited on trail when temperature is 100 degrees or warmer4Trail Restrictions for Dogs - Dogs prohibited on trail when temperature is 100 degrees or warmer<div class="ExternalClass2CC0A0158ABE4807B10863919E4E57EB"><p>Dogs are prohibited on city of Phoenix hiking trails when the temperature is 100 degrees or warmer. </p><p><a href="http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/pets_safe_heat_wave.html?" target="_blank">Learn how to keep pets safe during warm weather months.</a> #hikeright<br></p></div>5/4/2018 7:00:00 AM8/31/2018 7:00:00 AM
Hiking Safety Heat Message3Hiking Safety Heat Message<div class="ExternalClass0B12337F359B4FDC8525C8706510E9B5"><p>Triple-digit temperatures are in the forecast for the Phoenix area. City of Phoenix Park Rangers advise not hiking during these weather conditions and ask that you always follow these life-saving <a href="/parkssite/Documents/PKS_NRD/Take%20a%20Hike%20-%20Do%20it%20Right.pdf" target="_blank">"Take a Hike. Do it Right."</a> safety guidelines.</p><p>Monitor the <a href="https://weather.com/weather/today/l/USAZ0166:1:US" target="_blank">local forecast</a> and understand that all<a href="/parkssite/Documents/PKS_NRD/Trail%20Rating%20Guide.pdf" target="_blank"> trail difficulty ratings</a> are raised one level when the temperature is 100 degrees or warmer. #hikeright<br></p></div>5/4/2018 7:00:00 AM9/30/2018 7:00:00 AM
Fire Ban for Desert Parks and Mountain Preserves9Fire Ban for Desert Parks and Mountain Preserves<div class="ExternalClass9BD9996AE1234347B07E288EB7C4F430"><p>​The Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department will ban open fires in the city's desert parks and mountain preserves starting <strong>Tuesday, May 1, 2018</strong>.</p><p>The annual fire ban stipulates the following: Open, wood and charcoal fires are prohibited in any part of Phoenix's preserves; smoking outside of enclosed vehicles will continue to be prohibited; propane or gas grills may be used, but only in established picnic areas.</p><p>For additional information contact 602-495-5458 or <a href="mailto:natural.resources.pks@phoenix.gov">natural.resources.pks@phoenix.gov</a>. #hikeright</p></div>4/25/2018 7:00:00 AM10/15/2018 7:00:00 AM

 

 

Trail Descriptions

 

​Apache Wash Trailhead

1600 E. Sonoran Desert Dr.
Parking & Entrance Hours: 5 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Trail Hours: 5 a.m. - 11 p.m.


Apache Vista Trail -Moderate

Difficulty:  Moderate

Access:  Start at Apache Wash Trailhead. Continue north onto Badger Brawl Trail. Continue north when Badger Brawl Trail becomes Sidewinder Trail. Turn left off of Sidewinder to proceed to Apache Vista Trail.

Description:  Apache Vista Trail begins off of the northeast side of the Sidewinder Trail. It tightly winds up the north side of Apache Hill and ends up at the summit commanding a great view on all sides. There is a small loop off of the second post so you can either go left or right to reach the summit.

Distance:  0.5 miles

Elevation Change:  153 feet



Apache Wash Loop -Easy

Difficulty:  Easy

Access:  Start from Apache Wash Trailhead. Proceed to Badger Brawl Trail to connect to Apache Wash Loop.

Description:  This dirt loop trail is very popular to mountain bikers. There are many parking spots located at the trailhead for cars and horse trailers. There are bathrooms at the trailhead, but no running water. The trail offers breathtaking views of the Sonoran preserve. Apace Wash Trailhead is a beautiful example of the Sonoran Desert. This 5.6 mile multi-use trail passes through cactus gardens and allows unrestricted desert views. Many visitors are amazed with the diversity of cactus along the trail and the amount of desert wildlife. The trailhead offers vault toilets but no drinkable water.

Distance:  5.6 miles

Elevation Change:  200 feet



Apache Wash Paseo -Easy

Difficulty:  Easy



Apache Wash Trail -Easy

Difficulty:  Easy

Access:  Start from Apache Wash Trailhead. Proceed to Badger Brawl Trail to connect to Apache Wash Trail.

Description:  This trail starts on the west side of Apache Hill and connects at the Ocotillo trail. From there the trail goes along the base of the hill and opens up to the north side ending at the Sidewinder trail junction post. From there, you can to east or west on Sidewinder.

Distance:  0.4 miles

Elevation Change:  164 feet



Badger Brawl Trail -Easy

Difficulty: Easy

Access:  Start at Apache Wash Trailhead. Proceed to Badger Brawl Trail.

Description:  To get to Badger Brawl Trail, you will have to hike up the Apache Wash Loop to the start of this trail. The trail itself is fairly flat. You will cross several dry river beds, some of which are pretty wide. It is a nice trail for bike riders. Badger Brawl Trail provides plenty of green with nice areas providing shade when you need it. There is no water anywhere so bring what you need. Really nice Saguaros along and flowers make this a nice spring hike. The trail itself is very well marked and easy to follow.

Distance:  3.4 miles

Elevation Change:  124 feet



Cliff Walk Trail -Easy

Difficulty:  Easy

Access:  Start at Apache Wash Trailhead. Continue to Badger Brawl Trail. From Badger Brawl Trail, you would take a right onto Apache Wash Loop to connect to the western part of Badger Brawl Trail. Continue heading northeast on Badger Brawl Trail to proceed to Cliff Walk Trail.

Description:  The Cliff Walk Trail follows the Cave Creek river bed for its entire length. The trail has some great views of the area and is well marked all way.

Distance:  2.9 miles

Elevation Change:  190 feet



East Skip Rimsza Paseo -Easiest

Difficulty:  Easiest

Access:  Start at Apache Wash Trailhead. Proceed south on Badger Brawl Trail. From Badger Brawl Trial, take a left to continue on to East Skip Rimsza Paseo.

Description:  East Skip Rimsza Paseo is a paved concrete surface used primarily by walkers, joggers to some degree by bikers. For the most part it parallels Sonoran Desert Drive and can be accessed in either direction from the Apache Wash trailhead. At the trailhead head south down the sidewalk back towards the main road and then head either east or west. This trail is great for families and the elderly as it has a very gradual incline, not even noticeable, and has good views of the area. Don’t mind the traffic noise as the roadway has become very popular.

Distance:  1.9 miles

Elevation Change:  37 feet



Esplanade Trail -Easy

Difficulty:  Easy

Access:  Start at Apache Wash Trailhead. Proceed to Badger Brawl Trail. Turn right onto Apache Wash Loop. Continue north and turn right to proceed onto Esplanade Trail.

Description:  The first section of the Esplanade is flat and sparse. This trail is a gentle climb hosting some occasional sandy areas and quick turns that keep you alert. After crossing an old jeep trail, you'll begin to parallel the Cave Creek Wash and the hike gets more interesting. On your left is a continuation of the desert you just hiked through, but on your right is a nice tangle of ironwood, Palo Verde, various shrubs and often a nice grove of saguaros along the edge of the wash. The wash is very wide here. Be on lookout during monsoon season as some areas may be impassable.

Distance:  3.4 miles

Elevation Change:  127 feet



Ridgeback Trail -Moderate

Difficulty:  Moderate

Access:  Start at Apace Wash Trailhead. Continue onto Badger Brawl Trail. Turn Left onto Ocotillo Trail. From there you will turn right to proceed to Ridgeback Trail.

Description:  Ridgeback Trail lies between the Sidewinder Trail and the Ocotillo Trail. This trail is easier starting from the north (off the Sidewinder Trail) as the climb from the north is not as steep as the one from the south.  You'll have excellent views and can clearly see the parking lot at the trailhead.

Distance:  1.5 miles

Elevation Change:  224 feet



Ridgeback Overlook Trail -Moderate

Difficulty:  Moderate

Access:  Start at Apace Wash Trailhead. Continue onto Badger Brawl Trail. Turn Left onto Ocotillo Trail. From there you will turn right to continue to Ridgeback Trail. Turn Left to proceed to Ridgeback Overlook.

Description:  Ridgeback Overlook is a quick outer loop to the top of the hill past the Ridgeback Trail junction. It has a great south view and is a quick climb to the top.

Distance:  0.2 miles

Elevation Change:  50 feet



West Skip Rimsza Paseo -Easiest

Difficulty:  Easiest

Access:  Start at Apache Wash Trailhead. Proceed south on Badger Brawl Trail. From Badger Brawl Trial, take a right to continue on to West Skip Rimsza Paseo.

Description:  West Skip Rimsza Paseo is a concrete trail with little gain in elevation. The trail stays close to Ocotillo Trail but then heads south and ends at Dove Valley Road. 

Distance:  3.1 miles

Elevation Change:  15 feet





Desert Hills Trailhead

705 W. Carefree Hwy.
Parking & Entrance Hours: 5 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Trail Hours: 5 a.m. - 11 p.m.


Ocotillo Trail -Moderate

Difficulty:  Moderate

Access:  Start at Desert Hills Trailhead. Proceed to Ocotillo trail.

Description:  This trail continues on the west side of the preserve gradually gaining elevation before dropping down to the parking area at 7th Avenue and Carefree Highway.

Distance:  6.3 miles

Elevation Change:  100 feet



Sidewinder Trail -Moderate/Difficult

Difficulty:  Moderate/Difficult

Access:  Start at Desert Hills Trailhead. Proceed to Sidewinder trail.

Description:  Sidewinder Trail is the longest, most technical trail in the North Sonoran Preserve.  Built with mountain bikers in mind, it begins behind the Apache Wash Trailhead Ramada.  Heading east around Apache Hill and gradually climbing as it intersects Apache Vista on the east before dropping down on the north side passing Apache Wash Trail.  From here, it heads into the north flats before climbing again, passing the 14th and 10th St. connector trails and Ridgeback.  It descends into some tight washes as it climbs steadily again before plunging down near the Central Avenue connector trail.  From there, it joins Ocotillo Trail but quickly starts climbing again going deep into the preserve and forming a “highway gore point”. After that, it winds around the communication towers where one can take a quick connector trail down the asphalt road to the parking area or continue on Sidewinder along the west side snaking down to the saddle and finishing at the parking area. This trail is definitely for the more experienced.

Distance:  7.0 miles

Elevation Change:  120 feet





Desert Vista Trailhead

1900 W. Desert Vista Tr.
Parking & Entrance Hours: 5 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Trail Hours: 5 a.m. - 11 p.m.


Bobcat Trail -Easy

Difficulty:  Easy

Access:  Start at Desert Vista Trailhead. Proceed from Hawks Nest Trail to Dixie Mountain Loop. Proceed to Bobcat Trail.

Description:  Bobcat Trail is pretty flat, but is a great slightly uphill warm up leading to the Dixie Mountain Loop.

Distance:  1.0 miles

Elevation Change:  79 feet



Cactus Wren Trail -Moderate

Difficulty:  Moderate

Access:  Start at Desert Vista Trailhead and continue to Hawks Nest Trail. Proceed to Desert Tortoise Trail and turn left onto Valle Verde Trail. Proceed to Cactus Wren Trail.

Description:  This trail connects the Great Horned Owl Trail to Valle Verde Trail and is a pretty flat trail with a few mild peaks and valleys. Like most trails in the area, Great Horned Owl Trail is pretty sun exposed.

Distance:  1.4 miles

Elevation Change:  43 feet



Desert Tortoise Trail -Moderate

Difficulty:  Moderate

Access:  Start at Desert Vista Trailhead and continue to Hawks Nest Trail. Proceed to Desert Tortoise Trail.

Description:  Desert Tortoise Trail starts with a short climb from the parking lot and some reasonable elevation changes. The back side of the loop fairly flat with another slope up to meet Dixie Mountain Loop for return. If you bring a dog, it better be very leash controlled due to close proximity of Cholla cactus on trail sides.

Distance:  1.1 miles

Elevation Change:  53 feet



Dixie Mountain Loop -Moderate

Difficulty:  Moderate

Access:  Start at Desert Vista Trailhead. Continue to Hawks Nest Trail. Proceed to Dixie Mountain Loop.

Description:  Visitors will start this loop on one side of the southern mountain and then loop around the side of the north mountain with beautiful views of Dove Valley. The trail is rolling and beautiful in either direction, but the ascents are a bit smaller if taken in the counter clockwise direction. This loop also gives hikers access to two short summit trails to reach the tallest peaks in the Southern Phoenix Sonoran Desert Preserve. Be aware that the trail will became narrow in a few spots, but generally remains wide enough to safely pass other trail users. The route is almost entirely exposed, so bring plenty of water and sun protection, especially if you'll be embarking during the hot summer months.

Distance:  3.8 miles

Elevation Change:  401 feet



Dixie Mountain Summit Trail -Extremely Difficult

Difficulty:  Extremely Difficult

Access:  Start at Desert Vista Trailhead. Continue onto Hawks Nest Trail and take a left onto Dixie Summit Mountain Loop. Proceed to Dixie Summit Trail.

Description:  The Dixie Mountain Summit Trail winds its way up the Dixie Summit.  It is strenuous with a few switchbacks before you make it to the top. 

Distance:  0.2 miles

Elevation Change:  698 feet



Great Horned Owl Trail -Moderate

Difficulty:  Moderate

Access:  Start at Desert Vista Trailhead and continue to Hawks Nest Trail. Proceed to Desert Tortoise Trail and turn left onto Valle Verde Trail. Proceed to Great Horned Owl Trail.

Description:  Along Great Horned Owl Trail, visitors will be greeted with many steep ascents. These are followed shortly by descents that will allow hikers to catch their breath. Especially if you take this one counter-clockwise, you'll want to leave a bit of gas in the tank, because there is a pretty steep climb at the end. Are you ready for a killer work out? If so, the Great Horned Owl Trail is the place to begin.

Distance:  3.1 miles

Elevation Change:  204 feet



Hawk's Nest Trail -Moderate

Difficulty:  Moderate

Access:  Start at Desert Vista Trailhead and proceed to Hawk's Nest Trail.

Description:  Hawk's Nest Trail is primarily used for hiking, trail running, horses, and mountain biking and is best used from September until May and directly links to Desert Tortoise Trail and Dixie Mountain Loop. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance:  0.4 miles

Elevation Change:  236 feet



Union Peak Trail -Moderate/Difficult

Difficulty:  Moderate/Difficult

Access:  Start at Desert Vista Trailhead and continue to Hawks Nest Trail. Proceed to Desert Tortoise Trail and turn left onto Valle Verde Trail. Take right onto Great Horned Owl and proceed to Union Peak Trail.

Description:  The combined picturesque trails with many ups and downs and will raise your heart rate to help strengthen the heart, strengthen the legs and burn calories. Hike up to Union Peak Trail to get a spectacular view of 360 degrees from the top, you will want to bring your camera.

Distance:  0.5 miles

Elevation Change:  224 feet



Valle Verde Trail -Moderate

Difficulty:  Moderate

Access:  Start at Desert Vista Trailhead and continue to Hawks Nest Trail. Proceed to Desert Tortoise Trail to connect to Valle Verde Trail.

Description:  Valle Verde Trail connects the southernmost range to the more northern range. Depending on which way you go, it is mostly downhill when heading south. The return trip heading north is gently uphill. The trail is well marked and has nice views of the valley. The western end of Valle Verde climbs up to the Dixie Mountain Loop trail, where it is quite steep.

Distance:  1.2 miles

Elevation Change:  224 feet



Western Vista Trail -Moderate/Difficult

Difficulty:  Moderate/Difficult

Access:  Start at Desert Vista Trailhead. Continue to Hawks Nest Trail and take a left onto Dixie Mountain Loop. Proceed to Western Vista Trail.

Description:  It doesn't take long to get to the end of the trail, though it is a tough climb. The grade will be moderate in some places and more challenging in others, but in either case, you'll have a consistent climb all the way to the Western Vista.

Distance:  0.3 miles

Elevation Change:  255 feet


Take a hike, do it right logo

Review "Take a Hike. Do it Right." guidelines before visiting the trail.  The symbol to the right of each trail name represents the difficulty rating.

Trail rating guide

*Add an additional level of difficulty when the temperature is in the triple digits.