Hiking In The McDowell Sonoran Preserve

This weekend I was lucky enough to spend some time visiting friends in Phoenix. One of my friends is an avid hiker and volunteer for the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, and took us on a hike from the Granite Mountain Trailhead.  

McDowell Sonoran Preserve
The Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve is a permanently protected 30,200-acre sustainable desert habitat with 120 miles of multi-use trails for non-motorized vehicles–we encountered other hikers, mountain bikers and even horseback riders.

After stopping at Starbucks for breakfast, we slathered on sunscreen, donned hats and Camelbak hydration packs, and headed out. It was a gorgeous day–but my friend says they all are!

McDowell Sonoran Preserve
One of our missions was to explore a new trail (the Coyote Canyon trail) to see crested saguara cacti, which are very rare.

Crested Saguaro Cactus

According to this website, only 1 in 150,000 saguaros develop like this.

Crested Saguaro Cactus

You can see lots of Saguaro in these pictures, but they only grow
in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and Mexico. 

I also was fascinated by the green trunks of the Palo verde tree, which is the official state tree for Arizona.

Palo Verde
I learned from this article that they shed their leaves during drought conditions, and then rely on their green branches and stems for photosynthesis. 

Overall, we spent about three hours hiking in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, and covered about 8 miles. As we crossed paths with mountain bikers, I knew my husband would love to take his mountain bike on a trail like this. Maybe for our next vacation …. 


Have you ever seen a crested Saguaro cactus?

Have you ever tried mountain biking?

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9 Responses to Hiking In The McDowell Sonoran Preserve

  1. RFC says:

    I mountain bike often, but in the trails of Vermont, to cacti to run into fortunately 😉 I’m LOVING the pictures of AZ you’ve been posting the past few days! Totally makes me want to visit!
    RFC recently posted…8 Winter Running Safety TipsMy Profile

  2. Beautiful pics! I haven’t been out to Arizona for years I forgot how gorgeous it was!
    Deborah Brooks @ Confessions of a Mother Runner recently posted…Celadon Spa-Relaxation & RecoveryMy Profile

  3. Sagan says:

    Oh that looks SO cool! Love hiking. I’ve never tried mountain biking but it certainly sounds like it would be a pretty interesting experience.

  4. April at RunTheGreatWideSomewhere says:

    Wow, that’s gorgeous! In 2008, we drove from Florida to Arizona and one of our stops was Saguaro National Park. It was July so it was crazy hot but those are beautiful to walk among. I’ve never seen a crested one before!

  5. Wow. What cool views. I would love to hike there.
    Abby @ BackAtSquareZero recently posted…Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah Half Marathon RecapMy Profile

  6. Jennifer says:

    Wow – gorgeous views!! I’ve never seen a cactus that large in person (only the tiny houseplants)
    Jennifer recently posted…2014 Across the Bay 10K Race RecapMy Profile

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