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Granite Mountain Loop Trail - MSPN, AZ

no permit
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Guide 116 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NE
3.9 of 5 by 18
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Difficulty 1 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Loop 4.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,722 feet
Elevation Gain 227 feet
Accumulated Gain 320 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 5.8
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27  2019-09-17
Balanced Rock Lollipop MSPN
15  2019-05-13
Divide Trail Loop
38  2019-04-12
Balanced Rock Loop
38  2019-03-23 tibber
5  2019-01-31
Balanced Rock Trail - MSPN
8  2019-01-21 Oregon_Hiker
1  2019-01-05 Sun_Ray
13  2018-04-07 RowdyandMe
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Author DarthStiller
author avatar Guides 15
Routes 230
Photos 6,011
Trips 434 map ( 3,778 miles )
Age 50 Male Gender
Location Mesa, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Oct, Nov, Mar, Apr → 7 AM
Seasons   Autumn
Sun  6:14am - 6:26pm
Official Route
29 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
a solid loop
by DarthStiller

The Granite Mountain Loop Trail, as its name indicates, is a 4.2 mile loop around Granite Mountain in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The easiest access to this trail is from the Granite Mountain Trailhead, but it can also be easily reached from the Fraesfield Trailhead via the Black Hill Trail. The very short 0.2 mile Granite Mountain Trail serves as the primary connector and starting point of the loop, and this description will start from that junction with the loop trail at the southern end of the loop.

The trail is newly constructed and single track. The vegetation at the start is fairly dense with many palo verdes, teddy bear and buckhorn chollas, and a saguaro forest on the south and east sides of the mountain. There are also several granite boulders strewn about that adds to the more proximate scenery. The trail does a quick and mild ascent and the levels out soon. The views to the east of Four Peaks and Mt. Ord and the Mazatzals further north are nice, although in the morning it’s hard to see with sun behind them. Below you in front of the mountains, views into the development and ranches can be seen. Along this section are junctions with the Saddlehorn and Bootlegger’s Trails, which can take you back to the Granite Mountain Trailhead on the eastern end of the preserve, or connecting to other trails for other loops.

At the northeast end of the loop, there is a short spur connector to a scenic lookout that allows views all the way to the south of the Superstitions and Red Mountain (Mt. McDowell). Looking back directly south, the McDowell Mountains and Tom’s Thumb are prominent on the horizon. Just under a half mile past this is the junction with the Cow Poke Trail, which, like the Saddlehorn and Bootlegger’s Trails, heads east.

Turning left at this junction and heading west across the north face of the mountain, the trail begins to descend and the vegetation thins out somewhat. Views to the north include the Cave Creek area and the western end of the newly expanded preserve area. As you turn south, the powerlines become a prominent feature as well the McDowell Mountains again. To your left, Granite Mountain also becomes a more prominent feature as this side of it is steeper and higher, compared to the more gentle slopes on the east side. If you’re hiking in the morning, this will also provide some shade. At the junction of the Balanced Rock Trail, turn left again and make it back to the starting point, checking out the views to the east again.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2014-02-18 DarthStiller
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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.

Most recent of 46 deeper Triplog Reviews
Granite Mountain Loop Trail - MSPN
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Balanced Rock Lollipop MSPN
Another pre-dawn start of an exercise hike for the SloFolks. We started at the newly remodeled Granite Mountain Trailhead. They did a great job on this and also the Fraesfield TH to the south. Even included flushing toilets! Nothin' but the best for us hikers. :D

We used six different trails to do the reverse looking lollipop loop shown in the photoset. Started with lots of moonlight and only one car in ahead of us when the gate opened automatically at 5:41am . Driving over we passed the Pima/Dynamite TH and the cars were lined up two abreast and all the way out to Dynamite Road waiting to get in.. MB'ers I'm assuming.

Even without all the flowers of this past spring this network of trails is very scenic. Granite boulders of all shapes and sizes. The tread on the trail is so nice it allows you to take in all the sights and vistas. It's nice to occasionally lift my eyes from the sad, sad ground...(obscure Leo Kottke song lyric). The Mazzies with the sunrise behind them were beautiful. I got some good shots of the ranges to the south and east also.

With the early start we had the place almost to ourselves. Aside from a large hawk (Ferruginous?) we saw just a few MBers and one couple hiking in as we were leaving. Summer is breaking, you could feel it in the air! :y:
Granite Mountain Loop Trail - MSPN
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It's been about 4 years since I was last out here and I remember I was impressed then and even more impressed now. Why? One word: WILDFLOWERS :y: Laurie had mentioned how that area was in a 20 year peak bloom and she wasn't kidding. Even though I was probably 1 week past prime; it was incredible... except for all that fox tail (at least that's what I call the low grass with a feathery plume). While the fox tail is pretty, way too much of it and thank goodness I didn't have to walk thru it. I stopped at the wrong TH at first so I had to get back in the car and drive further (I had turned at Frasefield TH rather that 136th St).

It was now 3:45 and I was hoping to be done at 5:45 which I would have been except there was one problem: WILDFLOWERS :y: . Actually the whole hike is pretty impressive. The banana yucca were blooming all over the place and then you have the giant boulders and saguaros mixed in. On the way out as the light was waning, the banana yucca looked like torches. I don't think I was quite able to capture it in the photos. And speaking of photos, I blew thru the rest of my memory card as I rounded the corner and finished off the last of the wildflowers so I had to resort to Kemosabe for the last 1/2 of the hike.

The most impressive flower show was as you came off of the Saddlehorn Trail onto the Granite Mountain Loop and around the corner to the southwest. Every kind of wildflower imaginable and en masse. Needless to say I got hung up here for awhile. On top of all this, it was a glorious afternoon temperature-wise and the trail is like gliding on ice; especially after Saturday's mostly off-trail hike in the Supes. Every time I come out here I think I need to rent a bike and go for a spin.

Once the wildflower show was done I was able to pick up my pace but I was still in Tibbernarian mode as I rounded each corner circling the mountain. I saw a dozen others with a mix of bikers and hikers. As I hiked into the shadow of the mountain it actually got a bit chilly but that didn't stop me from taking some more pictures; especially as I came around the corner with the Brittlebush providing the only light in the shadow of the mountain.

I think I got done a little after 6 and on the way home I got to see golden rain. Not sure that I've ever seen that before. And yes, there is much video but since I'm behind a couple weekends now... it's hard to say when that will be ready.

Bootlegger Trail to Granite Mountain Trail [ youtube video ]
Granite Mountain Trail
[ youtube video ]
[ youtube video ]
[ youtube video ]

I would have said extreme except that it's past its prime but still worth going out for the rest of the week I'd say. Many of the desert wildflowers were well-represented out here as was the Brittlebush. The Banana Yucca seemed to all be blooming; there were groves of them.
Granite Mountain Loop Trail - MSPN
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McDowell Sonoran Preserve-North Loop
Short walk in the park.
Beautifully cool weather.
The park is busting with blooming flora.
Banana Yucca, Poppys, Brittlebush, Blue Dicks, Fiddleneck, Scorpionweed,Desert Chicory, Globemallow, Luppine, Woolly Daisy, Wiry Lotus, Chuparosa and even Microseris :), to name a few.

This is the best time of year to enjoy this park

With afternoon plans, the goal was to hit a few trails out there I had not been on.

There were no @Mazatzal or @Crzy4AZ sightings
Granite Mountain Loop Trail - MSPN
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After hearing many Steward report about the wildflowers on Bootlegger and Granite Mountain trails decided to brave it on a Sunday morning. Wife Judy and friend Kathy joined me. We hiked it clockwise...Bootlegger-Granite Mountain-Bootlegger from Granite Mountain parking lot on 136th street. Yes, very good display of wildflowers and with our 7:30 AM start we avoided most of the crowds for 3/4 of our hike. Poppies starting to die off and Brittle-bush in full bloom.
Granite Mountain Loop Trail - MSPN
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As a member of the 'All Trails Club' in the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy, whenever a new map comes out with addtional trails I need to hike them to maintain my membership. I've been putting off North and South Diablo as they are about equal distance from most of the tailheads and farther than I've wanted to hike. North and South Diablo are designed with mountain bikers in mind as they both have black diamond rated areas. Decided to park near the corner of 135th St and Dove Valley and go in at a step over in the fence. This is what Judy and I ended up doing: Dove Valley Trail, Cow Poke, Granite Mountain Loop, Branding Iron, S.Diablo, N. Diablo, The Divide, Branding Iron, Granite Mountain Loop and Dove Valley. The Diablo trails are not marked with mileage markers as there is not room on the map and there are several small loop on both trails. I did a real poor job of estimating the mileage in the area to be about a mile and it turned out to be 3.5! So my planned 6+ hike turned into 9+. We had the time and water so no big deal. I've now completed all the new trials in the Northern section of Brown's Ranch area. A new trailhead at the corner of Dynamite and Pima Rd will open sometime in I've got some time before I have new trials to hike.
Granite Mountain Loop Trail - MSPN
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What a beautiful hike through Granite Mountain Loop Trail in the McDowell Preserves. I love hiking around huge boulders and thousands of saguaros. Hiked with our neighbor Stephanie and her Aunt and Uncle from Nebraska. This is a perfect hike for tourist as it is easy, the trail is smooth and the scenery of giant cactus, mountains and boulders. The ground is carpeted with grass--so unusual for the desert. The temps--a perfect 70 degrees. No wind and not a cloud in the sky. Would have liked to extend the hike through the Coyote Canyon Loop to make it an 8-mile hike but the Aunt and Uncle felt 6 miles was just perfect for them. Stephanie kept trying to find cacti that forms a letter in the alphabet for a project she is working on. I believe we found her about 8 letters on our trail. It was a good day.
Granite Mountain Loop Trail - MSPN
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Started a bit late....around 8.45 am. Trail head only had 2 other cars. Didn't see anyone until I reached the scenic point. It was cloudy and chilly until around 11 or so. Then started to see a few people. I finally saw and photographed bewick's wren. I was also entertained by canyon wren who came down to be photographed.....they are always somewhere on rocks...I hear them but never been able to photograph until now :y: . Saw a sparrow which could be a new one for me or not....sent it to our expert for ID. I may be seeing a red tailed hawk building a home....not sure but will keep an eye on it this season.
Overall great photos of 2 new sps for me. Lot of entertainment from wrens today.
Granite Mountain Loop Trail - MSPN
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Joined an organized hike from McDowell Sonoran Conservancy. 15 of us started from Granite Mountain TH and used various trails to get to Hawknest trail and back. On the way back we had one individual who had foot issues that slowed the whole group down. Meet up was called for 7:45 AM and we left at 8:10. Wish we could have started at 7 as it was warm the last hour or so.

AVE HR:114
Granite Mountain Loop Trail - MSPN
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A Saturday morning with Judy. Bootlegger to Granite Mountain loop and back on Bootlegger. WAY :( to many mountain bikes today! Will not do this popular trail on a weekend again.... although it's very scenic. We started about 8 AM.
Granite Mountain Loop Trail - MSPN
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On Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Conservancy patrol today with wife Judy. Boy was the visibility poor out toward 4 peaks. Gave out one map to a group of 6 hikers standing by a sign post trying to figure out which way to go and answered a question about wildflower season for an out of state visitor. I think this is one of the best hikes in the Northern part of the preserve because of the saguaros and granite rock formations.

saguaros just starting to flower. Hedgehogs in full bloom.

Permit $$

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To Granite Mountain Trailhead
31402 N. 136th St Scottsdale, AZ 85262

Parking, Horse Trailer Parking

Drinking water is NOT available.

Follow Fountain Hills Boulevard north out of Fountain Hills to Rio Verde Drive and head west to 136th Street to the Granite Mountain TH.
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 2 h 3 min
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 2 h 8 min
page created by DarthStiller on Feb 18 2014 10:38 am
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