The Sidewinder Trail is the longest trail in the northern section of the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve and goes over the highest hill. It is the northern most of the two main trails in this area and has the most hills as it meanders between its easternmost trail head and the parking at Carefree Highway and 7th Avenue. There are valleys surrounding it giving good views to the hills in Cave Creek and the southern part of the Sonoran Preserve. The trail is well marked, wide and easy to follow.Hike:
I've described this hike from southeast to northwest following the ascending mileposts. The beginning of both the Sidewinder Trail and Ocotillo Trail (N33 46.121 W112 02.638) is accessed by a short trail at the north end of the trailhead parking area (currently under construction). At the milepost go right following the markers with an "S" on a light blue background which marks the trail. The trail begins a gradual climb up some low hills and at .90 miles (Milepost .83; N33 46.539 W112 02.679) reaches a junction with the Apache Vista Trail. This trail is an out & back to the top of the hill. Go right here to stay on the Sidewinder Trail. It loops around the end of the hill and comes to a junction with the Apache Trail at 1.22 miles (MP 1.18; N33 46.568 W112 02.812) where you go right again to stay on the trail. The Apache Trail connects to the Ocotillo Trail. The Sidewinder Trail is flat for the next .6 miles until it reaches the junction of the 14th Avenue access at 1.77 miles (MP 1.72; N33 46.947 W112 03.063). The trail gradually climbs for the next .6 miles and then begins a slow decent reaching the junction with the Ridgeback Trail at mile 2.50 (MP 2.50; N33 46.959 W112 03.580). Keep straight here. The trail winds around to the 10th Street access at 2.68 miles (MP 2.75; N33 46.983 W112 03.666). Bear left to stay on the Sidewinder. After crossing two washes the trail begins a gradual to moderate climb up the highest hill in this section of the Sonoran Preserve. At 3.13 miles you cross a gravel road which has been "plowed" to discourage vehicle use which provides a way to the Ocotillo Trail to shorten a loop, if you are doing one. At 3.67 miles you reach the ridge and at 3.77 you reach the high point on the trail.
Now begins a series of switchbacks down the hill reaching the junction with the Central Avenue access at 4.66 miles (N33 47.260 W112 04.444). AEG is 681' to this point. Go left here. At 4.83 miles (MP 4.70; N33 47.181 W112 04.534) the trail reaches a junction with the eastern section of the Ocotillo Trail where you bear right. A junction with the western section of the Ocotillo Trail is reached at 5.09 miles (MP 4.94; N33 47.140 W112 04.749). Keep right here and begin a gradual climb to the tower hill passing through a wash on the way. The trail reaches a junction with the Tower Road access at 6.25 miles (N33 47.453 W112 05.057). After finishing the climb the trail decends gradually reaching an area with several unmarked trails at 6.7 miles where you should keep right on the Sidewinder Trail finally reaching the Carefree Highway/7th Avenue access point and parking at 7.20 miles (MP 6.98; N33 47.927 W112 04.978).
This makes for a long out & back hike. However, with the several access points along the way, the Ocotillo Trail and other shorter trails, many shorter loops are possible from 2 miles and up. The official trail map is posted below.