Gateway Loop Trail (McDowell Mountain Preserve)

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Gateway loop trail - McDowell Mountain preserve
Gateway loop trail - McDowell Mountain preserve
Gateway loop trail - McDowell Mountain preserve
Gateway loop trail - McDowell Mountain preserve
Gateway loop trail - McDowell Mountain preserve
Map: Gateway loop trail - McDowell Mountain preserve
elevation plot: Gateway loop trail - McDowell Mountain preserve

Location

How to Get There
This hike is located near Scottsdale, AZ.

From the Phoenix area, take state HWY-101 North to the Bell road exit. Take Bell road East (right) until you reach the intersection with Thompson Peak Parkway. Turn left here and drive about 0.5 miles to the turn off into the signed Gateway to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve (also signed as Carla way). Turn right to enter the trailhead. There are restrooms and water at this trailhead.
addressone
18333 N. Thompson Peak Parkway
city
scottsdale
state
az
Region
Phoenix Area and Central Arizona

Hike details

Distance
4.50 [Miles] Total
Hike Distance- Details
4.5 miles for the lollypop loop hike described
Time
1.75 [Hours]
Time-details
It took us an hour and 45 minutes to complete the hike.
Elevation Change
650 Total gain/loss [Feet]
Elevation Details
about 650 ft gain.
Hike Trail Type
Lollypop Loop

Season

Best Season
  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • October
  • November
  • December
Date Hike completed
December 26, 2012

Solitudue

Solitude
Low
Solitude Details
This is a super popular trailhead. Expect to share the trails with 50-75 other hikers.

Difficulty

Difficulty Rating
Easy
difficulty detail
This is an easy hike through the desert and a nice introduction to the McDowell Sonoran preserve.

Permits

Be Aware of
Mountain bikes

Hike along the Gateway Loop trail in the McDowell Mountain Preserve near Phoenix, Arizona.

The McDowell Sonoran preserve holds a fantastic variety of desert trails to hike. To the beginner, the multitude of trails may seem daunting. A good introduction to this area is the easy Gateway Loop trail hike. This trail is well signed and easy to follow throughout its length. The typical sonoran cactii make their appearances here (Saguaro, Barrel cactus, Cholla). The only drawback to this trail is that it is quite popular. You'll have to share it with other hikers as well as the occasional mountain biker.

From the trailhead, walk across the metal bridge to start hiking on the Saguaro trail. You'll pass through an ampitheater and hike about 0.3 miles to the start of the signed Gateway Loop trail (JCT_1L on the map). You can take this lollypop loop in either direction. We chose clockwise and the instructions below reflect this choice.

JCT_1L   Turn left here to start the loop. From this point, every trail junction is signed. If you don't want to think too much about navigation, just remember to turn right at every trail junction from here until you reach this point again.

JCT_2R   Turn right here at the junction with the horseshoe trail

JCT_3R   Turn right here at the junction with the windgate pass trail

After about 2 miles of hiking, you'll reach the highest elevation point of the loop at the Gateway Saddle (elevation 2,375 ft).

JCT_4R   Turn right at the junction with the Bell Pass trail

JCT_5R   Turn right at the junction with the Paradise trail

JCT_6R   Turn right at the junction with the Levee trail (via the Crossover trail)

From the last trail junction, it's another 0.2 to return to the loop start (JCT_1L). Turn left here and hike the remaining 0.4 miles to the trailhead.

Map

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