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Windgate Bell Loop, AZ
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510
260
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The newest (2007) City of Scottsdale trails in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve form a super loop with many points of entry and options to extend your distance or accumulated elevation gain. This description is from the largest available parking area in a clockwise direction to Windgate Pass then to Bell Pass and around Gateway Loop back to the parking area.


Starting from Horseshoe Trail (point A on the Super Loop map), there is minimal elevation change to connect with Gateway Loop trail (point B). Take a left and follow Gateway until it intersects with one end of Windgate Pass trail (point C). You could go to the top of Gateway Saddle and back or make the saddle (point aa) part of your return loop.

It is a steady climb to Windgate Pass (3031 ft) over the next 2.2 miles. Tom's Thumb is visible to the left and McDowell Peak looms above on the right. On this section the Desert Park trail (point D) merges with Windgate Pass trail, and further up is an option to go 100 feet to Inspiration Point (point E).

From Windgate Pass (point F), continue down and around to the trail's end as it intersects with Bell Pass trail and Windmill Trail (point G). This area is completely away from any housing developments or construction, and Thompson Peak is in view around the turn in the loop. Continue up to Bell Pass (point I) arriving at the highest point on the loop.

Descend down Bell Pass trail and you can complete the loop over Gateway Saddle and throw on more (372 ft) elevation gain or continue around Gateway Loop returning to Horseshoe trail.

Of course the loop can be approached counter-clockwise by parking at the Bell/104th Street lot and heading out on Levee trail or 104th Street trail (point cc and dd), but this parking can only hold about 12-16 cars and is not slated to expand.

Other loop extenders for more distance and accumulated elevation gain:
1. Desert Park trail (point D): Shares a trailhead with Horseshoe trail. It's 2.7 miles to intersection with Windgate Pass trail.
2. Windmill trail (point G): Connects with McDowell Mountain Regional Park trail system.
3. Prospector trail (point H): Connects with the road to Thompson Peak and McDowell Mountain Regional Park trail system.
4. Paradise Trail (point K): Connects to Quartz trail which connects to Lost Dog Wash trail which connects to Sunrise trail. That would be a whopper of a hike.
Description 260 Triplogs  3 Topics
RatedFavorite  
Wish List 5
 Region
 
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 Phoenix NE
Statistics
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Multi-Loop 10.1 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,671 feet
Elevation Gain 1,529 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,967 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4-5+ hours
Kokopelli Seeds 19.94
Author Crzy4AZ
Descriptions 31
Routes 88
Photos 2,493
Trips 567 map ( 2,010 miles )
Age 44
Location Scottsdale, AZ
Photos
Viewed All Mine Following
7  2017-02-26
Micky D Loop
syoung
3  2016-12-26
Micky D Loop
The_Eagle
18  2016-09-27 Widowmaker
24  2016-01-01 GlacialDrift
14  2015-05-16
McDowell Loop
The_Eagle
4  2015-02-12 Crzy4AZ
1  2014-08-09 Tortoise_Hiker
3  2014-08-09 johnlp
1  2014-06-25 The_Eagle
4  2014-03-22 hikerdw
3  2013-07-28 trekkin_gecko
30  2013-02-19 FLYING_FLIVER
Page 1,  2,  3,  4
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Radar
Backpack   No
Preferred   Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar
Seasons   Early Winter to Early Spring
Sun  5:19am - 7:31pm
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
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Official Route
 
Alternative Routes
 
Water
Nearby Area Water
Horseshoe Trail - MSP
same trailhead
0.9 mi
125 ft
Desert Park Trail - MSP
0.5 mi away
3.1 mi
605 ft
Gateway - Bajada Nature Trail - MSP
0.5 mi away
0.7 mi
16 ft
Gateway Loop Trail - MSP
0.5 mi away
4.4 mi
838 ft
Inspiration Point via Windgate
0.5 mi away
6.0 mi
1,300 ft
Saguaro Trail - MSP
0.5 mi away
0.4 mi
72 ft
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Fauna
Ants
Black-tailed Rattlesnake
Black-Throated Sparrow
Carpenter Bee
Desert Cottontail
Desert Spiny Lizard
Desert Tortoise
Eastern Collared Lizard
Harvester Ant
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Horned Lizard
House Finch
Phainopepla
Red-tailed Hawk
Rock Squirrel
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Barrel Cactus - Red
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Desert Mariposa
Desert Wishbone Bush
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Fairy Duster
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Gooding's Verbena
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Saguaro
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Geology
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Named place
Camelback Mountain
Drinkwater Peak 3914
East End
Fountain Lake
Four Peaks Wilderness
McDowell Mountains
McDowell Peak
McDowell Sonoran Preserve - Gateway TH
Mountain Spring
Pinnacle Peak
The Flatiron
Thompson Peak
Tom's Thumb
Weavers Needle
Culture
Gila Petroglyph Style (Abstract)
Gila Petroglyph Style (Anthropomorphic)
Gila Petroglyph Style (Zoomorphic)
Inscriptions
Mine Shaft
Reference Mark
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Stone Dwelling
Trail Signs and Markings
McDowell Super Loop & tributaries
by Crzy4AZ

The newest (2007) City of Scottsdale trails in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve form a super loop with many points of entry and options to extend your distance or accumulated elevation gain. This description is from the largest available parking area in a clockwise direction to Windgate Pass then to Bell Pass and around Gateway Loop back to the parking area.


Starting from Horseshoe Trail (point A on the Super Loop map), there is minimal elevation change to connect with Gateway Loop trail (point B). Take a left and follow Gateway until it intersects with one end of Windgate Pass trail (point C). You could go to the top of Gateway Saddle and back or make the saddle (point aa) part of your return loop.

It is a steady climb to Windgate Pass (3031 ft) over the next 2.2 miles. Tom's Thumb is visible to the left and McDowell Peak looms above on the right. On this section the Desert Park trail (point D) merges with Windgate Pass trail, and further up is an option to go 100 feet to Inspiration Point (point E).

From Windgate Pass (point F), continue down and around to the trail's end as it intersects with Bell Pass trail and Windmill Trail (point G). This area is completely away from any housing developments or construction, and Thompson Peak is in view around the turn in the loop. Continue up to Bell Pass (point I) arriving at the highest point on the loop.

Descend down Bell Pass trail and you can complete the loop over Gateway Saddle and throw on more (372 ft) elevation gain or continue around Gateway Loop returning to Horseshoe trail.

Of course the loop can be approached counter-clockwise by parking at the Bell/104th Street lot and heading out on Levee trail or 104th Street trail (point cc and dd), but this parking can only hold about 12-16 cars and is not slated to expand.

Other loop extenders for more distance and accumulated elevation gain:
1. Desert Park trail (point D): Shares a trailhead with Horseshoe trail. It's 2.7 miles to intersection with Windgate Pass trail.
2. Windmill trail (point G): Connects with McDowell Mountain Regional Park trail system.
3. Prospector trail (point H): Connects with the road to Thompson Peak and McDowell Mountain Regional Park trail system.
4. Paradise Trail (point K): Connects to Quartz trail which connects to Lost Dog Wash trail which connects to Sunrise trail. That would be a whopper of a hike.
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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.

Permit $$
None


Directions
Map Drive
or
Road
Paved - Car Okay

To Horseshoe Trailhead
Take the 101 Pima Freeway to the Princess Drive/Pima Road exit. Go north on Pima Road to Union Hills Drive. Turn right (east) on Union Hills Drive. Turn into the parking lot for the health club at the southeast corner of Union Hills Drive and North Thompson Peak Parkway. Parking for the Horseshoe Trail is permitted in the southeast corner of the lot. A sign for the McDowell Sonoran Preserve marks the start of the trail.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) - 28.9 mi, 34 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) - 126 mi, 2 hours 5 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) - 140 mi, 2 hours 31 mins
90+° 8am - 6pm kills
stay out of the scorching sun
prehydrate & stay hydrated
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