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Giant saguaros and hidden canyon
The Coyote Canyon Trail is a new (2014) addition to the Northern section of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and offers up-close encounters with granite boulder outcrops and a surprising and beautiful narrow canyon and wash.
Overview: The closest access point for the Coyote Canyon Trail is from the 136th Street and Dove Valley Road intersection with no official parking but road-side space for 2-3 cars. From this pull-off area, take Dove Valley trail 0.3 miles to Cow Poke Trail then travel 0.6 miles on Cow Poke to the intersection with Granite Mountain Loop Trail. At trail marker sign GM5: take Granite Mountain Loop trail northwest (right towards Cholla Mtn) about 0.45 miles to the sign for Coyote Canyon trail. Head right/north 1.2 to meet up with Dove Valley Trail. Continue on Dove Valley trail 1.0 miles to the parking area.
Hike:There is very little elevation change in this hike, but there are pleasant ups and downs and bends through giant old stands of saguaro. Most of the greenery along the trail's edge is made up of mesquite and cat claw acacia trees/shrubs. Of particular interest on Coyote Canyon Trail is the double crested saguaro which can be found right off the trail about 0.7 miles along the trail. Just past this point is a warning sign to prepare mountain bikers or equestrians of the approaching trail drop into a narrow, sandy section and mini-slot canyon of the eponymous Coyote Canyon.
I found myself in utter shock as I approached the narrow drop into Coyote Canyon with the granite walls providing shade and an immediate cooling effect. Tall, smooth granite walls to either side of me and the shadows of late afternoon casting lovely light into the space. The area has received greater than usual rain and you could see evidence of fast rushing water that had pushed brush flat and pointing in one direction in the wash. The trail is soft and sandy here with a desert oasis feeling amongst the Datura bushes and grasses and reeds. There was a temporary watering hole on my particular visit with many animal footprints in the mud.
After the 0.25 mile stretch walking along the canyon floor, you meet up with the Dove Valley Trail again and follow an old motorcross trail back to the parking area.
If you want a longer loop trail, start from the Granite Mountain Trailhead to create an 8 mile hike that includes Coyote Canyon Trail. Anyway you access it, this is a terrific new addition to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and well worth the tax payer dollars it cost to acquire it for permanent protection.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.