register help

Gateway Loop Trail - MSP, AZ

no permit
1.4k 618 3
Guide 618 Triplogs  3 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NE
3 of 5 by 59
clicktap icons for details
Popular Workout
Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 4.4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,791 feet
Elevation Gain 680 feet
Accumulated Gain 838 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 8.59
Backpack No
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Will recalculate on button tap!
1  2019-09-15
Windgate Bell Loop
3  2019-03-02 dmarchant
31  2019-02-23
Gateway hike - snow day
12  2018-12-22
Windgate Bell Loop
17  2018-10-29 RowdyandMe
1  2018-08-26
Tom's Thumb Trail - MSP
3  2018-04-16 gummo
22  2018-04-14 rrshort
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 21
Author Crzy4AZ
author avatar Guides 31
Routes 96
Photos 2,588
Trips 589 map ( 2,119 miles )
Age 46 Female Gender
Location Scottsdale, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar
Seasons   Early Winter to Early Spring
Sun  6:15am - 6:24pm
Official Route
79 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Short loop with saddle views
by Crzy4AZ

This lasso loop hike in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve in northeast Scottsdale has a nice balance of physical exertion and expansive views of the McDowell mountain range. From the new Gateway access parking area, go 0.4 miles over the bridge until you see the amphitheater on your left. I prefer to travel clockwise from this point to have views of the McDowell ridgeline as I climb to the saddle. It's 1.7 miles to the saddle going clockwise and 1.9 miles heading counter-clockwise from this point. From the amphitheater you can also take a 0.5 mile diversion on the Interpretive trail or make a short 0.3 loop on the Saguaro loop trail before you start the Gateway loop. The Interpretive trail is paved and has several seating areas and will open officially September 2009 with numbered stops explaining features of the desert flora and fauna.

Traveling clockwise on the loop you encounter cholla, barrel, and saguaro cactus with views of Tom's Thumb in the distance as you climb towards Windgate Pass. At 0.2 miles, you intersect with Horseshoe Trail (see below). At 1.2 miles, turn right to reach Gateway Saddle climbing another 0.5 miles to the highest point of the loop at 2378 feet.

As you cross Gateway Saddle, Thompson Peak pops into view and the McDowell pit mines are visible. Continuing down in elevation off the saddle, Bell Pass is to the left and Camelback Mountain and Phoenix Mountains straight ahead. At 0.8 miles down from the saddle high point, stay right on Gateway Loop while Bell Pass trail begins to the left. Another 0.2 miles finds the Paradise trail junction on the left, but stay straight and in 0.5 miles you will see an old fence. From the fence, it's 0.6 miles to the right bringing you back to the Access center or it's 0.7 miles to the left using the Crossover trail to the small Bell/104th St parking area (see alternate entry point info below).

If you're interested in the ranching history of the area, from the old fence go left to see the ranching ruins. This stone building was part of the Lower Ranch of the Brown family's D.C. Ranch, which at its peak had more than 4000 head of cattle on 44,000 acres. In 1885 Dr. W. B. Crosby purchased the land and registered the brand "DC" ("D"octor "C"rosby), and later various members of the Brown family raised cattle on the land from 1919 to 1966 when it was split up and eventually bought by developers.*

Two alternate entry points to Gateway Loop Trail:
With 200 parking spaces at the Gateway Access area (opened May 2, 2009), most people will start the Gateway Loop trail from this point; however, there are two other nearby entry points.

1. Park at the health club at Union Hills and Thompson Peak Parkway in the southeast corner of the parking lot. The Horseshoe trail is visible from this corner and is 0.7 miles to the intersection with Gateway Loop.

2. From the small 12-car-parking area at Bell/104th Street, follow the signs to the Gateway loop by way of the 104th Street trail (0.8 miles to hit the loop) or take a right onto the Levee trail and use the 0.2 mile Crossover trail (0.7 miles to hit the loop).

The mileage and elevation gain will vary depending on where you park and enter the loop.
Parking LocationElevationRound Trip Mileage
Gateway access center17914.4 from bridge
Bell/104th St. small lot16805.2
Health Club Union Hills16715.0
* History of DC Ranch from Nancy Lucas: Google "Nancy Lucas Scenic Drive DC Ranch" for more information.

Page originally posted 2008-01-06, revised on 2009-05-09 due to access changes.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2009-05-09 Crzy4AZ
  • MSP Rock Climbing Guide - Page 1
    area related
    MSP Rock Climbing Guide - Page 1
  • MSP Rock Climbing Guide - Page 2
    area related
    MSP Rock Climbing Guide - Page 2
  • MSP Rock Climbing Guide - Page 3
    area related
    MSP Rock Climbing Guide - Page 3
  • MSP - Approved Climbing Areas 2011
    area related
    MSP - Approved Climbing Areas 2011
  • overview map
    area related
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent of 130 deeper Triplog Reviews
Gateway Loop Trail - MSP
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
I wanted to do an exercise hike not far from home, so I chose this one, even though it is not my favorite hike.

There was some cloud cover and nice breezes early in the hike, both of which were quite welcome.

I almost stepped on a rattlesnake that was curled up in a ball on the right side of the trail. I saw the snake just as my foot was about 6" away from stepping on him -- but the snake never moved, and I was able to lengthen my stride just in time to avoid stepping on the snake.

It was nice to do a low elevation hike for a change -- I could actually breathe on this hike!
Gateway Loop Trail - MSP
rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
Heavily used trail in Scottsdale. Great for a conditioning hike of roughly 4.5 miles. Suggestions- if you want a steeper, but shorter ascent take the left (Northern) route. If you want a less steep, but longer 2.5 miles vs 1.5 miles take the right (Southern) route. The Southern route has more sun exposure, especially in the morning and later in the afternoon.
Gateway Loop Trail - MSP
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
I actually only wanted to go to where the Gateway Access Loop Trail heads off to the right and the Windgate Pass Trail begins, but I only made it 1.49 miles out of 1.59 miles (and 396 AEG out of 479 AEG) before running out of gas (about 94% and 83% respectively). I guess that's not too bad considering I only had 713 kcal all day before and 23 kcal of celery on the way to the trail head. I ate a couple of Nature Valley Oat & Honey granola bars on the trail about 1.2 miles in, but they didn't kick in until I'd already gone back about a half mile.
Gateway Loop Trail - MSP
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
Had an appointment in Scottsdale , to avoid the rush hour 101 traffic went early arriving at the trailhead about 0630 which gave me time to do this hike. Plus it was unfinished business from my Tom’s Thumb hike as I meant to add this at the time but had back spasm problem. Anyway I was having trouble getting route scout started and eventually had to delete the app and reaquire it, this was the first try since and it seems to be working fine. Nice temp this am 55 degrees, passed by more hikers as the morning went on. Do not usually listen to music while hiking anymore but grabbed my antique sans disk loaded with bands from the late 60’s and 70’s ,eg. Cream, Led Zeppelin, Mountain , so between the guitar riffs and the trail condition was tempting to jog. However I’ve learned that for me running in hiking boots usually results in a malady so I held back. Scottsdale folk sure have some nice trailheads,with running water but no hair spray,cologne or towel attendant in the men’s room.Too bad the drive isn’t closer but will keep in mind when I need to head in this direction.
Gateway Loop Trail - MSP
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
I made it but it was a struggle. I think I ate too much at a luncheon I went to earlier. I wanted to turn around several times and did for a short bit until my argument with self was the loudest. I got out my poles and said "self, we'll just do this slowly". Every step seemed hard. I hate it when this happens but I'm glad I persevered. It's not like it's a difficult hike for gosh sakes ](*,) .

It's been almost 5 years since I last did this trail from Gateway. Not sure why but the AEG seems a little high. I obviously have a love/hate relationship with this trail.

It was crowded out, lots of lizards too, windy and cold at the pass. Trail seemed rougher than normal. No flowers, just a few blooming hedgehogs. No wolfberries for sustenance.
Gateway Loop Trail - MSP
rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
haven't done this combo in two and a half years
it's a good one
needed double digits with some aeg as i'll probably be working the next two sundays
'tis the season
got going around nine
gateway loop :next: bell pass :next: east end :next: the lookout :next: tom's thumb :next: windgate :next: gateway
counterclockwise so i could go up east end
temps were fine, but the wind added some chill at the passes and high points
couldn't stay at the lookout
wasn't very crowded once off gateway loop
had fun on an old favorite

forgot to mention that i came up on @darthstiller and his family hiking gateway loop
how could i tell? no one else has pants like that
nice to meet you, chris!
Gateway Loop Trail - MSP
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
Made it to Windgate Pass today, but didn't make the smartest moves in general. Reaching the Pass makes it all worthwhile, of course:

I also stopped at my favorite two-era petroglyph near Inspiration Point:

But I did all this via a late start of 7am. Getting to the top was not really a problem. I took my sweet time and had several breaks. There was a cool breeze above 2700 feet or so. (The Pass is at 3000 feet).

But because I'd started so late, the heat got to me as I hit the last 2 miles or so, on the way down. I brought 3 liters of water and used up all of it with about half a mile to go, which to me was pushing my luck. Made it home fine but learned a lesson.
Gateway Loop Trail - MSP
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
Haven't logged a hike since 2015. I've hiked here and there in the interim but my routine did in fact fade out in 2015, so it's just as well that I wasn't keeping up on HAZ. I did my old stand-by morning route today, the trailhead being a 3 minute drive from home.

I'm a gadget freak so what brought me out here in the first place is a gadget: in this case the Samsung Gear 360. I have no claimed photography skills but the concept fascinates me, as does the idea of reaching all of my favorite destinations, snapping a 360, and sharing it with my elderly relatives. I took this one today.
Gateway Loop Trail - MSP
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
That little mountain spring was going. I have only been out here once before, a few months back, but I don't recall seeing it before. Ran into John on the way down and we chatted a bit about our upcoming Kilimanjaro trip; it is getting close. I made the same mistake again when hopping onto East End. I turned at the signed intersection and followed the trail a short ways but then quickly realized the trail was about a 100 feet to my right. Ah well.
Gateway Loop Trail - MSP
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
I had not ridden in my old '92YJ "Grasshopper" Jeep since transferring ownership in Jan'16 to my local friends and our HAZ- ReneeG & family. Renee contacted me on a "whim" the day before and invited me to join her and their two young sons (my "unofficial" two young nephews), for a local, city hike :D

We knew that we would not complete the entire Gateway Loop Trail 4.3 mile round-trip, but that would be OK. I looked at my previous HAZ trip logs on this trail and noticed that this hike would be the sixth time in my past years of hiking in AZ that I had been on some portion of this South Section- McDowell Sonoran Preserve Trail. Interestingly enough, I had to review the driving directions as it has been years since I have been to this Gateway Center Parking/TH.

We arrived at the huge vehicle parking lot at 9:15am and had problems finding a parking spot [ photo ] .. good thing we all had our hiking stuff :lol:

I had high hopes for lots of wildflowers and so did a few hundred others. The wildflowers were there, but the area is drying-out quickly so we really needed to look closely, but all in all, a nice variety as documented below and in my picset.

It was a fun morning hike with Renee and the boys, and I did not break the park rules by going off-trail to hunt for ancient ruins, even though I was tempted to do so ;-)

T-hank-S again Renee for the invite, your company, and the cool morning ride in the still awesome
"Grasshopper" !!

Permit $$

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
Take 101 to Bell Road exit (by way of either FLW Blvd exit 39 arriving from the south or Pima/Princess exit 36 arriving from the north). Go East on Bell road 1.7 miles and turn left onto Thompson Peak Parkway. The Gateway is 0.7 miles on the right. (18333 N. Thompson Peak Parkway)

2009-12-30 nonot writes: From the 202 and 101 interchange, go N on the 101. Pass the first "Pima Rd/90th St" exit. Exit at "Pima Rd/Princess". Go N 0.5 miles to Legacy Rd. Turn R on Legacy. Legacy will T into Thompson Peak Parkway. Turn right (south) on TPP. Turn left into the TH. Note: what was "Union Hills" is now signed "Legacy".
help comment issue

end of page marker