McDowell Sonoran Preserve
Phoenix is a hiker's heaven, with the climb up Echo Canyon on Camelback Mountain and the more easily navigable red granite caves found in Papago Park. However, Scottsdale also has the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, a 30,000-acre desert expanse with over 100 miles of trails. You’ll be awed by the panoramic views of the McDowell Mountains and an ecologically diverse landscape that includes barrel and cholla cacti, and green-barked palo verde trees. Filled with lots of wildlife, you’ll likely catch a glimpse of gila woodpeckers, roadrunners, cottontail rabbits, desert reptiles, mule deer, or wild pigs known as javelina. Trailside volunteers can help you select from the multiple routes. If you’d like to learn more about the Sonoran Desert and its unique ecosystem, join one of the guided group hikes. Mountain bikers also love the preserve and enjoy the Brown’s Ranch Trailhead. More advanced riders should try the scenic northern trails at Tom’s Thumb.