The Sonoran Desert is pretty undervalued by lots of people, so when I have the opportunity to show someone around, I really think hard about where I want to take them. For guests who doesn’t have a whole lot of time and/or who aren’t comfortable with longer hikes, the McDowell Mountain Regional Park: Scenic Trail is my go-to. It’s a moderate 4 mile hike, that is just long enough to immerse someone in the desert, and introduce them to our iconic biodiversity (like the saguaro). And there isn’t a ton of elevation gain, but the trail does go to the top of a hill for sweeping views of the McDowell Mountains and the sky-scraping heights of Four Peaks. On top of all that, it’s close to Phoenix-metro area, so it’s not hard to get to!
TL:DR – If you don’t have a lot of time and/or the desire for a long hike, the McDowell Mountain Regional Park: Scenic Trail is the perfect introduction to wild Sonoran Desert.
Need to Know
Trail Length: 4.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 357 feet
Entrance Fee: $7 per vehicle
Managed by: Maricopa County Parks and Recreation
Facilities? Yes, at the trailhead
Vehicle Access: Accessible with any vehicle