Saturday, December 20, 2014

McDowell Sonoran Preserve



First, a little history about Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve: Back in the 1990s the city and citizens of Scottsdale, AZ set about to acquire over 30,000 acres of the adjacent Sonoran desert and McDowell Mountains. They even approved two small tax increases over the years for land acquisition and improvements such as hiking trails and trailhead parking areas. There are now six trailheads and over 100 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding, free for anyone to use. How nice of Scottsdale to preserve this magnificent landscape.

Yesterday our friend Jane met us at the Granite Mountain trail, about halfway between the campground at McDowell Mt Park and her house in Cave Creek. We hiked just under 7 miles in this beautiful desert and only saw a few other people.

Jane and Jim doing a little route planning.



We saw some interesting looking saguaros.


The beginning of a crested saguaro?


We could barely see the clump on top of the rocks, so Jim took a closer look with the zoom.


Looked a bit like palm trees from a distance.



This one appeared to be a very recent fall right across the trail, probably due to the rain we had a few days ago.



We took a side trail to Balanced Rock. Luckily it didn’t fall on us.


What an enjoyable hike, and not strenuous or rocky so we could actually look around while hiking without worrying about our footing. It would be a great trail to bike on, too.

We were hungry after our hike and stopped for a very good veggie pizza at Brugo’s. Then Jane invited us to stop by to and see their house and meet some friends and neighbors who also own a Lazy Daze, so we did. We could actually see living in a community like that one day but who knows. We really do like this part of Arizona and if Jim needs to be close to the Mayo Clinic it might just be a place we could live in at least part of the year. Always thinking of the future but can’t quite grasp settling down yet. Just hope we don’t have to anytime soon.


  1. That balanced rock reminds me of a crested saguaro.

  2. The rock formation in your final image reminds me of a piece of non-living coral that we had in our salt-water aquarium many years ago. If the image was scaled to the size of our coral, each of you would be about 3 inches tall.

  3. This comment is from Sherry. Jim accidentally deleted it.

    That's a really wonderful landscape. So glad the people had such foresight to set aside such a great place for gentle uses. Such big tall cactus. Will the one that fell across the trail die? I hope we can visit and hike out there some day. We seem stuck in Florida for the winters and by the time we get out to AZ it's always too hot for me.

  4. I am putting all your hikes on Pinterest. When Paul and I get there this winter, I want to do several of these hikes. And #1 on my bucket lit is to see my first crested saguaro.

  5. There are so many wonderful places. It would be difficult to choose just one.

  6. I learned something today! I did not know about the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. We'll have to check it out when we're up there. Cave Creek is a beautiful area.

  7. Thanks for the background info! We plan to visit in the spring and take advantage of this area. What gorgeous saguaro!!! I do believe the arm on the right is the beginning of a new crested saguaro. It looks like the one on the left is just some kind of a weird mutation but you never know. We'll have to check back in a hundred years and see how it is doing:) That poor guy on its side! It was so large. Love that fancy rock, looks like a flower.

  8. It's great that Scottsdale saved this beautiful landscape.

  9. I didn't realize the Preserve was that enormous! Very Cool! Maybe next winter we'll get out that way for a bit...

  10. Great pics of the saquaro, they are so majestic. Both balancing rocks are pretty amazing! It's always special to have a "local" guide, for both trails and community :-)

  11. I've always thought that a winter home in the Cave Creek area would be ideal…let's go halvesies…I get it in the winter, you get it in the summer :)
    Box Canyon Mark

  12. Now THAT looks like my kinda hike! Love those "palm trees!" What beautiful, interesting structures they are. Glad to see Peterman is back in full swing!