Tuesday, December 31, 2013

McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Entering the park in north Scottsdale

Last Wednesday, I took my 5th annual Christmas Day hike. This year I went to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve in north Scottsdale. I took the Gateway Loop trail, which was a little over 3.5 miles and took me about 1 hour and 45 minutes. The weather was sunny with temperatures in the low to mid 40s.

I went clockwise on the loop trail, which took me on the north side of a peak, so the first half of the hike was shaded. It was a gradual rise in elevation until I reached the Gateway Saddle on the east end of the loop. From there, it was downhill and on the sunny, south side of the peak. I started the hike a little before 8am, so I didn't run into too many people until the last mile of the hike.

The all-important topo map

Let's take a walk

A beautiful morning for a hike

Hmmmm…let's go clockwise

Cholla cacti

Morning sun peeking over the McDowell Mtns.

Drinkwater Peak off in the distance

Expecting The Thing to emerge

Half-way home.

Warm sun on the south side of the loop

Almost back to the trailhead

Phoenix Mtns in the distance.

Back at the trailhead

Not 10, not 15…13