McDowell Sonoran Preserve
January 10, 2021
Location: North Scottsdale
Distance: We logged 9 miles out and back
Parking: There is a pretty big lot. If the lot is full we recommend to park at Granite Trailhead
We were trying to find something new to hike inside of the valley and Owen came across these trails on the Scottsdale City Website. There are a ton of trails throughout here and we found some we thought we would like based off of the blog post Owen found. We dropped our dog Finnick off at Owen’s parents house because we knew we were going to do a longer hike and didn’t want to bring him. Owen’s dad told us about Balanced Rock, so we decided to add that onto our hike.
We hiked up Browns Ranch Road from the trailhead which was about .3 miles to Chuckwagon Trail. We took Chuckwagon Trail east for 2.2 miles to Balanced Rock Trail. On the way to Balanced Rock it takes you northeast. You will pass 118th Street Trail, Whiskey Bottle Trail, and Power Line Road #2. We took Balanced Rock Trail southeast to Balanced Rock for .4 miles. After we went to Balanced Rock we headed back to the west on Balanced Rock Trail, pass the intersection of Chuckwagon Trail for another .3 miles until we got to Cholla Mountain Loop Trail. We then took Cholla Mountain Loop Trail North for 1.2 miles to the intersection of Branding Iron Trail. From there we only went .1 miles until we got to the entrance of South Diablo Trail. We headed down South Diablo Trail for a bit and then decided it was time to turn around. To get back to our car we went back a different way. We took Cholla Mountain Loop Trail back to Balanced Rock Trail, instead of taking Chuckwagon back we went west for .2 miles to the intersection of Watershed Trail. We took Watershed Trail south for .9 miles to the intersection of Chuckwagon and then we took Chuckwagon all the way back to Browns Ranch Road. Once we got there it was about 1.4 miles back to the parking lot. We recommend to look at a map to see all of the trails here. It will help out a lot and will put what we did in a better perspective.
Overall, we really enjoyed these trails. There are SO many trails throughout this area. We saw a ton of bikers on our hike, but we didn’t really see that many other hikers. While hiking we had a great view of Four Peaks and Tom’s Thumb. Once we were on South Diablo Trail you could see Cave Creek. South Diablo Trail is a Black Diamond Trail for bikers, so be on a lookout for bikers while hiking on these trails!
These trails have little to no incline so they are great easy to moderate hikes depending on the length of your hike. We would recommend these trails to all hikers! We also would recommend to hit Balanced Rock if you decide to hike these trails.
As always Happy Hiking and remember to Leave No Trace.