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Sonoran Preserve - North Area, AZ

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Guide 53 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NE
3.2 of 5 by 9
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Loop 6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,840 feet
Elevation Gain 1 feet
Accumulated Gain 700 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 9.5
Backpack No
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
14  2017-03-11 rrshort
1  2015-07-29 Stoic
20  2015-06-10 Stoic
11  2014-07-19
Ocotillo Trail-Sidewinder Trail Loop
14  2014-05-15 Bradshaws
9  2014-05-06 Bradshaws
7  2014-03-28 Bradshaws
20  2014-03-23
SRO Loop - Sonoran Preserve N
Page 1,  2
Author MEWhiteman
author avatar Guides 40
Routes 91
Photos 790
Trips 351 map ( 2,703 miles )
Age 75 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Nov, Feb, Jan → 8 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:13am - 6:32pm
4 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Lots of Options
by MEWhiteman

The Phoenix Sonoran Preserve has been in the planning stages for many years. A trail system was built a couple of years ago in the southern part of the park which is now being actively used. In mid 2012 another system of trails was completed in the northern section of the park on the south side of Carefree Highway. The new Dove Valley Road / Sonoran Desert Drive completed in May 2013 divides the northern and southern sections. (This segment of Dove Valley Road should not be confused with the Dove Valley Road on the north side of the park which allows access to some of the trails. They do not connect.)

This new trail system goes around and over a line of hills stretching southeast from Carefree Highway west of 7th Avenue to Apache Wash. The trails in this section are interconnected such that many loop as well as in and out hiking opportunities exist. I'd describe it as a large loop with trails and junctions connecting both sides of the loop to create smaller loops. There are also several side trails leading to the concrete multi use trail called the Sonoran Paseo paralleling the new road as well as a couple of spur trails leading to hilltops providing good views of the surrounding park. There are several access points providing different options for starting the hikes enabling one to hike different areas without a long hike in from the main trail heads. The large, outside loop is 13.7 miles long comprised of the Sidewinder and Ocotillo Trails. The shorter loop possibilities begin at about 2 miles and go up from there. Several combinations for different loop hikes are posted as GPS tracks. I used an arbitrary median distance and AEG in the statistics for this description as there is wide variation depending on the hike. The trails themselves are well constructed and graded and the hills are not steep making for good hiking, mountain biking and riding. There is very little shade. The trails are well marked with stickers on steel posts using the same format as in the south area of the park. They contain the trail name, mileage, elevation profile and a QR code to allow smartphone owners to get additional information. A letter on a colored background allows easy trail identification.

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2013-03-01 MEWhiteman
  • Sonoran Preserve - North Map
    area related
    Sonoran Preserve - North Map
  • SPN - West Side Map
    area related
    SPN - West Side Map
  • SPN - East Side Map
    area related
    SPN - East Side Map
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 Triplog Reviews
Sonoran Preserve - North Area
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Wasn't planning on hiking today because of work. But a nice pilot offered to fly in my place. We slept in to recover from last night's festivities and then headed over to the Sonoran Preserve since I hadn't had time to plan anything better. Figured it would be crowded. That was definitely correct. Kids, dogs, bikes, and lot's of folks all enjoying a very nice day. Even with the crowded trails, the hike was much much better than the crowded airports. Definitely a good start to what I hope will be a fun year on the trails.
Sonoran Preserve - North Area
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Inaugural trip on my new Fuji mountain bike, me bum feels a bit battered :stretch: Suppose I'll need to invest in some padded panties :doh: I think the bike will be a nice way of changing things up, so I don't get as burned out and as easily.
Sonoran Preserve - North Area
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Quick after work hike :D Had to check out this tank that I had seen on several other hikes. It turned out to be Bosco tank. It was totally dry and smelled of fish :yuck: it was also filled with flying insects
Sonoran Preserve - North Area
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After yesterday's rain I figured the Sonoran Preserve North trails would be the most colorful they will be this Spring. So MJ and I ambitiously set out to put footprints on all of them.

Began at the Carefree TH and took the Sidewinder east. This one goes up and down and up and down. The temps were cool and the sly was clear with just some whispy pillows over the northern high country. We conversed a great deal about our upcoming Grand Canyon raft trip. MJ is obsessed with what to pack (limited to 25 pounds, not counting consumables like alcohol thank God). I'm just obsessed with having nearly a month off and not having to go to the airport or shave. WOO HOO! Anyway, back to the hike. Not a lot of people on the trail so that was nice.

Cut south on the Ridgeback Trail over the summit to join the Ocotillo and head east again to the new TH. Had some refreshments and used the facilities. An elderly group was having a little lunch close by, but didn't have a bottle opener. Saved their day with my handy multi-tool that goes everywhere with me. Its nice to come to the rescue of a beer unlawfully entrapped inside a bottle.

After our little rest we headed north on the Sidewinder and then up the little spur to the easternmost hilltop summit. Then the Skunk Wash trail took us back south to the Ocotillo which was aptly named today. The ocotillo are in max bloom right now. There were some really large nice ones along the trail.

Footsore, we finally made it back to the trailhead and the Jeep for the very short ride home. Great day to be out.
Sonoran Preserve - North Area
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SRO Loop - Sonoran Preserve N
couldn't decide what I wanted to do this weekend. First I was gonna hike on Saturday and then decided Sunday would work out better with my workout schedule. Then it was a matter of what to do on Sunday afternoon as I do like spending mornings at home on the weekend when I can... which isn't often. I toyed around with the usual suspects of the Phx Preserve or Shaw Butte but then saw Barrett's trip report from the N Phx Preserve so decided that would be my choice.

I posted it up on the HAZ Calendar and FB after figuring out a 10 1/2 mile route :wrt: from Carefree Hwy and 7th Ave. I couldn't see where anyone else had come from there so I had to rough out the mileage and such (forgot to take a pic of the route I had scribbled on a piece of paper; I'll add that later).
Got some interest on FB but only Karl and Kathy could make it. I was surprised Karl wanted to hike again after not getting home til after midnite and after a 27 mile mostly off trail hike. I knew it would be a little warm but it's time to acclimate a bit. We did have some broken clouds and a breeze for most of the hike.

The trail was what I expected, a highway in many cases, but sometimes that's a refreshing change. It gives you a chance to talk with someone side by side rather than ahead or behind. We started on the S (Sidewinder Trail) and for the first little bit Karl walked at my pace. He seemed a bit wobbly but before you knew it, he was blazing the highway ahead of us and Kathy and I were left behind to catch up on things. A couple times Karl stopped in shade to wait for us. I say a couple times because that's about all the shade you'll get out there.

The ocotillo and hedgehogs and creosote were all blooming. The cane cholla had just started. This ended up being a pretty good hike at that as you do get some elevation; much more than I thot :sweat: . Off to the North are some houses including a double-wide that Karl thot was in the perfect location. We hit the junction with the R (Ridgeback Trail) where we conferred for a moment in the shade of a tree as my mileage wasn't matching up exactly. We finally made it to the Ridgeback Overlook and the views really are quite nice. Kathy did her normal pic for FB and as usual, it's already on FB before I get home :lol: . That woman is fast with her phone :gun: .

And then it was time to head back where you eventually hit the O (Ocotillo Trail - appropriately named). Unfortunately we had less of a breeze. However, the scenery and conversation were nice so that made up for it. This part of the route paralells the 303 and alongside it is a wide sidewalk and 4 beautiful bridges plus a veranda. We did run into several people on bikes but not too bad as it was Sunday afternoon. I think the secret to hiking in these easy trail areas is to hike on Sunday afternoons.

And then we came to the last intersection with the Sidewinder and we looked up at where we would be hiking. We had briefly discussed staying on the Ocotillo but since Karl was heading up the Sidewinder; we presumed the decision was made :lol: so UP we went... another "Karl's Hill" situation for me like when we did 5057 and didn't have to do the hill but did.

We encountered a couple different hikers that before you knew it had already turned around. We couldn't quite figure that out. The entire hike I kept expecting Karl to drop but then concluded he probably hikes in his sleep ;) . It was a good afternoon out on the trail with good people and good weather. What more can one ask for?

Ocotillo and Hedgehogs were blooming along with some cane cholla. There were limited patches of poppies. Looks like the hedgehog and cane chollas will continue to bloom for awhile.
Sonoran Preserve - North Area
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Couldn't ask for a better day. Hit the snooze button three or four times, had a beautiful hike, and back home just in time for the NFL playoffs to start. 8)

Tons of people out enjoying the warm holiday weekend... 15-20 hikers and 30-40 mountain bikers.

O :next: S :next: AW :next: O

Also nice to see a Phoenix Police officer watching over things in the trailhead parking lot. And yes, a real live cop, not just one of their cars parked in the lot. Glad to see they're keeping an eye on things up here.
Sonoran Preserve - North Area
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First time in the northern part of the preserve... the City of Phoenix really did a great job with the Apache Wash trailhead!

Pretty busy for a Monday. Saw maybe a dozen hikers and five mountain bikes. The spectacular weather probably had something to do with it.

O :next: R :next: RO? :next: R :next: S :next: AV :next: S
Sonoran Preserve - North Area
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Decided to try out the northern part of the Sonoran Preserve today. Did a counter-clockwise loop through the first part of the Sidewinder Trail, up to the Apache Vista, down the Ridgeback Trail to the Ridgeback Overlook, then the Ocotillo Trail back to the trailhead.

There were lots of people in the park today, but the crowd really thinned out once we passed Apache Vista. Once we were on the Ridgeback Trail, we saw almost no one. Bit of a hazy day out, but the view from the Ridgeback Overlook was probably the best I've experienced in either side of the Preserve so far.

Another nice day at the Sonoran Preserve. Next time I'm here I'll have to go further down the Sidewinder Trail and make a longer loop out of it.
Sonoran Preserve - North Area
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Picked a different part of the Sonoran Preserve for today's training hike. Started from home, crossed the Carefree Highway and stayed on an old jeep trail along the western side of the Preserve until reaching Dove Valley Road. I then repeated the Carefree/Dove Valley segment again and then worked home. Made for a nice little work out.
Sonoran Preserve - North Area
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This section of the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve is exploding with Mexican Poppies. The Trail head is on the South Side of the road, at the intersection of Carefree Highway and 7th Ave. Once you pass through the gate, head West up the trail. The flowers will start coming in to view after 1/2 mile or so (I did not have my GPS today)

Conversely, this is the most extensive amount of poppies I have ever seen in this particular area of North Phoenix. Last weeks 1"+ rainfall should insure they continue to blossom and flourish, well into Spring. When driving East on CF highway before 7th Ave, peer off to the South, the hills are covered in a thick blanket of fresh blossoms.

Permit $$

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
Trailhead is located at the southwest corner of Carefree Highway and 7th Avenue. From I-17 take exit 223 Carefree Highway (SR-74) and travel east to a traffic light at 7th Avenue. Parking is on the right just before the light. From north Scottsdale take Carefree Highway west. Turn left at the 7th Avenue light and park in dirt on SW corner. It may be easier to pass the light and make a u-turn at the first opportunity and return to the parking.

Alternate access: Parking for a couple of cars is available at the intersection of 10th Street and Dove Valley Road south of Carefree Highway (.5 mile paved, .5 mile good unpaved); also at the junction of 14th Street and Dove Valley Road on the side of the road (paved); and also at the end of Central Avenue south of Carefree Highway there is very limited parking for a high clearance 4WD vehicle or you can park at end of pavement and hike down hill.

Future access: The City of Phoenix is constructing a new large trail head at the 16th Street alignment on the north side of the new Dove Valley Road / Sonoran Desert Drive within the park. Target completion date is Fall 2013.
page created by MEWhiteman on Mar 01 2013 5:55 pm
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