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Sunrise Trail - MSP, AZ

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Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NE
3.3 of 5 by 17
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 4.36 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,943 feet
Elevation Gain 914 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,005 feet
Avg Time One Way 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 7.71
Backpack No
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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14  2019-02-23
Sunrise Peak from 124th Lost Dog Trailhead
6  2018-11-22
Sunrise Peak from 124th Lost Dog Trailhead
2  2018-11-22
Sunrise Peak from 124th Lost Dog Trailhead
3  2018-11-22
Sunrise Peak from 124th Lost Dog Trailhead
14  2018-10-31
Sunrise 145th - Andrews-Kinsey
1  2018-06-24 trekkin_gecko
15  2018-02-25
Sunrise Peak from 136th Street Spur
6  2018-01-04
Lost Dog Wash Short Loop
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 9
Author paulshikleejr
author avatar Guides 20
Routes 77
Photos 542
Trips 405 map ( 1,470 miles )
Age 54 Male Gender
Location Scottsdale, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Nov, Feb, Apr → Any
Seasons   ALL
Sun  6:12am - 6:31pm
Official Route
39 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Even on a cloudy day, you can see the fountain.
by paulshikleejr

Overview: This is a popular trail in the southern portion of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. It begins at Sunrise Trailhead and has its western terminus at Lost Dog Trail. As of November 2014, it is one of the longest named trails in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. From east to west, it connects with the Peak Spur Trail, 136th Street Spur Trail, Ringtail Trail, Anazasi Spur Trail, and Lost Dog Wash Trail.

Warning: Sunrise Trail is officially rated as "Difficult" by the City of Scottsdale. You will frequently encounter rocky, loose terrain. I have slipped and fallen on my butt more than once while running down a grade.

Hike: At the end of 2012, I documented a morning hike of the Sunrise Trail. The 63 image photoset provides a decent look at the entire length of the Sunrise Trail from the trailhead to the western terminus. As of the date of this writing, almost 3/4 of the images have some sort of description.

Taking the summit of Sunrise Peak from the trailhead is popular and if that is your goal, the journey can be divided into four stages: the runway, the beam up, the supercruise, and finally the shot to the top. The trail and the runway stage starts at the Sunrise Trailhead. This is trailhead is about as developed as you can get without having a building. There is a parking area for 22 cars (plus one disabled parking spot), a refrigerated water fountain with a doggie water fountain, a weatherized trail map, doggie waste bags, trash and recycling bins, signs with lots of rules, and a container for McDowell Sonoran Preserve maps. The first section of the trail is about 0.27 mile in length and takes you from the trailhead to the first "hump" and "Sparky's Pitchfork" (at least that's what it looks like when you encounter it when coming down from the summit at twilight). After passing this point, you can't see the parking area anymore. The next section of the trail, from the first hump until you round the mountain and can no longer see the first hump, is about 0.49 mile in length. As you hike this section, you'll probably notice a total of four humps. This section is relatively easy and is downhill for the first 0.07 mile (losing 52 feet) before trending gently upward for the next 0.42 mile (and gaining 92 feet). After you round the mountain, you'll see 0.15 mile ahead and 115 feet up the next bend around the mountain. The second bend marks the end of the runway. At that point, you will have logged 0.91 mile and accumulated 353 feet in elevation gain.

The beam up begins just past that bend. This short section is so-called because over the next 0.25 mile on your way to the Upper Overlook, you'll accumulate 237 feet in elevation gain. As you round the bend, if you look carefully to the right of the trail, you'll see a short, alternative way. Either way, the next 0.12 mile takes sees you another 112 feet and puts you at the foot of the run up to the Scenic View. At that point you can take the regular, hooked path or an alternative steeper, shorter path. Taking the regular path brings you up 82 feet over 0.07 mile to the Scenic View. From that vantage point, to the southwest, you can see at least South Mountain, Papago Buttes, Camelback Mountain, and Piestewa Peak. Continuing up around a bend for 0.06 mile gets you to the "Upper Overlook" where there's a steel box and another view of the Valley of the Sun. At this point, or at the Scenic View below, many novice hikers or folks short on time may choose to turn around and head back down. All told, from the trailhead to the Upper Overlook, you've covered 1.16 miles and AEGed 575 feet.

Pressing on from the Upper Overlook, you embark on the supercruise stage of the hike to the top. Because of the relative challenge of the just completed beam up stage, the majority of the next 0.50 mile seemed to me like an opportunity to cruise at at a faster pace to the saddle at the base of the final stage. The first 0.29 mile could be called standard McDowell Sonoran Preserve outback hiking a gentler grade with mostly (but not entirely) hard surface. Sure, there are some rocky areas and a few big step-ups, but mostly it's an opportunity to make your way through some scenic landscape as quickly or as leisurely as you please. AEG and elevation gain over this portion of the trail is 210 feet. The final 0.21 mile of the supercruise begins with a quick, switchback pop-up to a longer, switchback leading to the saddle. AEG and elevation gain over this 0.21 mile is 151 feet, so it's a bit steeper overall compared to the previous 0.29 mile. Something to watch for while on this leg is the eruption of the Fountain. The Fountain is active for the first 15 minutes of each hour, day or night. After a final, quick push, you'll round a bend and find yourself in the saddle.

Upon completing the supercruise, you'll be at a saddlepoint that provides views (southeast) down into Scottsdale, Fountain Hills, and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and (northeast) into Fountain Hills, the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation Reservation, and McDowell Mountain Regional Park. The last stage of the trek to the summit of Sunrise Peak is the Peak Spur Trail, as indicated by the trail sign. After taking in the sights, continue along the 0.19 mile connector segment running below and north of the Peak Spur Trail to transit from the eastern side of Sunrise Trail to the western side of Sunrise Trail. Along the way, you'll be treated to excellent views of terrain from Thompson Peak and the northern McDowell Mountains to McDowell Mountain Regional Park, the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation Reservation, and Fountain Hills.

The first section of the western part of the trail traces a rough semi-cirlce across the slopes whose run-off drains into the creekbed that runs down and along 136th Street north of Via Linda and the forms the bulk of the 136th Street Spur Trail.
About one-sixth of a mile along, you'll come to a hitching post. After resting your horse, you can continue about a quarter of a mile forward along a relatively flat portion of trail. Along the way, take a gander south into the 136th creek canyon. Then, 0.41 mile from the western terminus of the Peak Spur Trail, the trail begins a noticeable descent and continues until you're walking along a ridge. A short while later, you'll reach the northern terminus of the 136th Street Spur Trail.

At this point, you can look down onto the rest of the Sunrise Trail and see the Lost Dog Wash Trailhead. The next 0.22 mile comprises a series of switchbacks that take you down 115 feet in elevation. The next 0.42 mile takes you down another 249 feet. This section is generally shaded in the morning and afternoon allowing for the growth and survival of unexpected flora. This section of the trail, in the morning, as the sun rises, is a sight to behold.

Arguably, this section of the trail ends where you find a natural bench. After a quick break, you're ready to tackle the next 0.57 mile which will take you down 292 feet. This part of the trail (in fact, almost the rest of the trail) can be fairly rocky. About 0.45 mile from the bench, the trail intersects a weird track that from the air looks like a trail, but from the ground, barely looks like anything at all. Maybe someone can explain what that (and the similar weird tracks in the area) are. This section of trail ends at the intersection with the Ringtail Trail.

The final 0.49 mile of the trail takes you to the western terminus at the Lost Dog Wash Trail. This section of trail drops 161 feet. This part of the trail is notably rocky. About 0.48 mile from the Ringtail Trail intersection, Sunrise Trail intersects the Anasazi Spur. Thereafter, it's a quick 0.08 mile to the end of the Sunrise Trail.

Water Sources: The Sunrise Trailhead has a refrigerated drinking fountain. There are no water sources along the trail.

Camping: Camping is not allowed on this trail.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2014-11-09 paulshikleejr
  • 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

One-Way Notice
This hike is listed as One-Way.

When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
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 55 deeper Triplog Reviews
Sunrise Trail - MSP
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went up to the mcdowell mountains again this morning
started just before sunrise for an over and back on sunrise :D
shaded for most of the ascent
hit the peak on the way over
a lot more people on the east side
always a nice hike, even if it's not thanksgiving ;)

Sunrise Trail - MSP
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sunrise over and back with the boys
7th time for denny and i :)
jj's sixth, bob and lil d's third, first time for joe
johnlp is on sabbatical this year :(
bob caught us just before the peak, which we hit on the way
joe and bob headed back after the peak
started just after 0630, which is when the gate is scheduled to open
usually we wait a few minutes, but today it was already open
warmest temps in the seven years
a lot of people hiking, especially on the east side
nice to see everyone again
happy thanksgiving, y'all!
Sunrise Trail - MSP
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I had planned on getting up early and hiking today, but instead went back to bed for a couple more hours. I finally felt up to doing something in the afternoon and decided to check out the Sunrise Trail. It was an overcast day which kept the temperature down which was nice. The Sunrise trailhead parking lot was had only one spot left when I got there at 1:30pm. The hike up to the peak is pretty steep and I worked up a good sweat. Along the way there were lots of wild flowers - yellow poppies and various blue and purple flowers too. There was also a lot of green. All over the place. I'm used to brown being the dominant color in Arizona, but there were a lot of places on the trail where it was very green. Weird.

There were quite a few people hanging out on the peak when I got there. It was a bit hazy, but the view was still impressive. I checked the time and saw that it was close to 3:00 and decided to wait for the fountain at Fountain Hills to go. I'm glad I waited. The fountain was pretty cool. After snapping a few pics I headed back down and continued Westward towards the Lost Dog trailhead. The hike to Lost Dog trailhead seemed to take forever, but I appreciated that on the return. The western part of the Sunrise trail between the peak and Lost Dog has the same elevation gain as the other part, but it climbs steadily over a much longer distance. I was able to keep up a decent pace even on the uphill part of the return leg.

As I approached Sunrise Peak on the return the sun finally broke through the clouds for a few minutes and really brought out the green on the hills. Very pretty. Overall I like this trail a lot and expect to do it again.

Numerous areas covered with yellow poppies and various blue flowers.
Sunrise Trail - MSP
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Sixth annual Thanksgiving day hike. Over and back on Sunrise trail hitting the peak on the first ascent. Special guest appearance from lindaagm, and second cameo from BobP. Very enjoyable hike as always. Everyone on the trails is a little more relaxed on this day. Thanks all, I appreciate your company. :)
Sunrise Trail - MSP
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sixth time we've done sunrise over and back thanksgiving morning :)
perfect distance and elevation gain for a holiday hike
started when the gate opened
warmer temps than usual but quite breezy at the saddle and summit
more people on top than i've ever seen; usually see only one or two others before starting down the east side
jj's a regular, lil d comes half the time, linda joined in today and we met bob as we topped out on the return
nice to see y'all again
going with my route scout stats
almost doubled my aeg for the month with this hike :?
felt good after recent back problems - be nice to keep it that way
good times indeed
Sunrise Trail - MSP
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Sunrise & Taliesen Overlook
needed a double digit training hike with some aeg, not on south mountain
started from lost dog trailhead, went up to sunrise peak, down to 145th street and back
then took ringtail to the jeep trail, and lost dog to taliesen overlook
lost dog back to the trailhead
didn't know if anyone had a track for the new nature trail, so i finished with that - it's cute
saw maybe 15 hikers and three mountain bikers - no one on the west side of sunrise, old jeep or ringtail
83 degrees when i started, 91 at the finish and quite humid
cloud cover for most of sunrise and a good breeze all morning
always enjoy sunrise peak and the east side views
Sunrise Trail - MSP
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Babysitter with kids - we hiked Sunrise to peak partly for workout and partly to disperse concrete sand that crazy people had taken up in buckets and dumped. 30 young guys - one in a tutu - carried huge American flag and buckets of rocks and concrete sand -- and some plan was thwarted by a local hiker and a two stewards. Weird. Probably they were going to put the big flag in concrete at the top. It's a Preserve - you can't just do that. Not many public places can you just erect a permanent structure randomly with a huge flag. Anyway .... City needed people to go up and disperse the concrete stuff and rocks. So we kicked the stuff around and mixed it in.

Barely got out by sunset. Changed clothes in parking lot. Dinner at Vito's --- way too heavy. Good but unhealthy.
Sunrise Trail - MSP
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Short and steep. Crowded with holiday visitors. Did patrol duties - helped 4 people with route planning and questions. The overflow parking lot was about 1/3rd full. The Fountain Hills construction in Adero Canyon is depressing. Too bad they didn't protect that land.

And I fixed the hot tub myself this morning before the hike. Nice to sit in warm bubbles after a cold hike.
Sunrise Trail - MSP
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Thanksgiving Sunrise Peak Hike
hard to believe this is the 5th time johnlp, denny and i have done this hike on thanksgiving morning
jj has joined us for four of them, so almost a founding member ;)
nice hike, not too chilly
lots of people on the east side
good times with good people
happy thanksgiving to all of my haz friends and hiking partners!
Sunrise Trail - MSP
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Great morning hike with Rob.

Started from the parking lot around 8:20 a.m. Many thanks to Rob for helping me up the mountain. He didn't carry or push me, but he allowed me to find my way up at a pace that worked for me.

We saw a number of flowering Mammillaria Zeilmanniana and one with a full crown. No animals other than dogs.

Mammillaria Zeilmanniana and other cactus

Permit $$

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
From either northbound or southbound AZ-101, take Exit 41 for Shea Boulevard. Head east on Shea Boulevard towards Fountain Hills for six miles. At 136th Street, turn left and head north for 1/2 mile. Turn right onto Vía Lindaand snake northeast for less than 1.5 miles until you reach a roundabout and entry gate for a gated community. The trailhead parking lot is on the left.
page created by HAZ_Hikebot on Nov 09 2014 6:59 pm
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