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McDowell conservation history
The Jane Rau Interpretive Trail is a half-mile loop stroll through the beautiful boulder-strewn northern McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The trail starts just east of the amphitheater (past the bathrooms and water fountains), and you will walk a tenth of a mile before deciding whether to go clockwise (left) or right. The trail is wide and could accommodate many travelers and those with strollers or walking assist devices. Horses and bikes are not allowed on the trail due to the stabilized trail surface. You cross three bridges along the barrier-free path and have lovely views of Brown’s Mountain and later Pinnacle Peak. There are quite a few saguaros with their “insides” showing and can satisfy your curiosity about the wooden bones inside these grand cacti. There were no illustrative or educational plaques on the day of my visit, but I suspect that soon the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy will have several on the trail. I would recommend visiting this little loop trail at sunrise or sunset for nice photos, and it is an ideal introductory mini-hike for kids and adults alike.
The trail is named after Jane Rau, a co-founder of the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy and long-time (and current) volunteer. Jane’s efforts date back to the 1980s, and this description was given in 2008 when she won the National Land Trust Alliance Volunteer of the year award:
“Through Jane’s activism and unending enthusiasm for the conservation of Arizona’s open space, thousands of acres of urban land will not be developed. This not only impacts all citizens of Arizona now but will impact generations of Arizona citizens in perpetuity. Her foresight and unwavering determination have helped create a living treasure enjoyed by young and old alike. Co-founder, Master Steward, and Lifetime Board Member of the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy, Jane celebrated her 86th birthday working in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. While no one person can be credited with what is now the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Jane has been called “the burr under Scottsdale’s saddle” for her work in advocating for conservation.
She has successfully influenced public officials, community opinion, and the private sector to help establish this regional open space system to preserve flora, fauna, archaeological and historical resources with appropriate public access. She created a consensus in the most challenging circumstances and developed partnerships where none had existed before. She has worked tirelessly for 40 years to maintain the Arizona she fell in love with when she settled north of Dynamite Road in 1967. “
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.