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Upper Ranch Trail - MSPN, AZ

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Guide 61 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NE
2.7 of 5 by 11
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Distance One Way 2.12 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,721 feet
Elevation Gain -61 feet
Accumulated Gain 105 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 2.47
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
30  2019-05-06
Buckshot Trail - MSPN
25  2019-04-29
Stagecoach Trail - MSPN
7  2019-03-17
Browns Ranch Explore
10  2019-03-10
Latigo Trail - MSPN
4  2018-12-27
Brown's Mountain Summit via Upper Ranch
2  2017-11-02
MSPN loop
51  2016-12-30
Christmas bird count (CBC) 2016
6  2016-10-30
Powerline Road #1 - MSPN
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Feb, Nov, Jan
Sun  6:10am - 6:35pm
Official Route
18 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby

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  • MSPN Brown Insert
    area related
    MSPN Brown Insert
  • MSPN Trail List
    area related
    MSPN Trail List
  • MSPN Gate Schedule
    area related
    MSPN Gate Schedule
  • McD Sonoran Preserves - North 2015 - 1
    area related
    McD Sonoran Preserves - North 2015 - 1
  • Axle & West
    area related
    Axle & West

One-Way Notice
This hike is listed as One-Way.

When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
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 29 deeper Triplog Reviews
Upper Ranch Trail - MSPN
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Judy joined me as I did a foot patrol for the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy while wearing my Conservancy shirt and badge. Went up to Brown’s Mountain saddle and down the back side and around mountain counter clockwise. Always busy when we have nice weather on a Sunday. A fellow steward told Pinnacle Peak had 1000 visitors by 11 AM! :(
Upper Ranch Trail - MSPN
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Christmas bird count (CBC) 2016
I participated in my first ever Christmas bird count aka CBC. I get a kick out of those initials since they mean complete blood count to me :) . Prerequisite is to attend a workshop held at Audubon center by Troy who is with az game and fish and is also a member of az field of ornithology. Since it is my first time, I learned a lot in the process :D
Workshop was on 12/10th this year held at Audubon center in Phoenix. I learned that there is no exit to central from hwy10. By the time I realized it, I overshot to 19th ave and then had to trace back using local roads :( . Troy Corman works for AZ game and fish.....In a section overseeing CBCs. He gave a nice power point talk and I am including a few slides here. They divided the area into circles and try not to overlap the dates of counts for people have a chance to participate in more than one count. They used to do an area near downtown Phoenix but decided to stop it as they noticed greatly reduced numbers of birds :o Troy taught us how to estimate numbers if you see a huge flock of birds. I enjoyed learning about it although I don't get to practice that skill in the preserve. Typical areas that attract massive quantities of birds are agricultural or riparian which are not part of Preserve. Whenever there is a flock of birds, need to pay attention to all the birds as there will be more than one sps and often rare birds are mixed in. Need lot of patience to look at all the birds.....I learned this last year as I used to assume that when I recognized one sparrow in a flock, rest are all the same. Birding with Walter, I now learned to pay attention to all of them....but I still need to work on my patience.
The day of our count is scheduled on 12/30th. We got our instructions before hand. Since there were enough stewards, they decided to add a new area in northwest portion of Preserve to the count. Our instructions included our trails that I glanced briefly and knew that it would involve power lines and cone mountain. Since our circle starts at power line, we can't include any birds we see at TH or parking lot. We start and finish the count at powerlines. Once we are inside the circle, we can report any birds we see from there. Since rain is in the forecast this week, I was watching the forecast closely....was going to cop out if it rained. But luckily no rain until tonight so I showed up. It was windy and sunny with pleasant temps. Windy means fewer birds :( Our group only had 2 stewards.....myself and Lisa, an experienced steward. We had 2 visitors from tonto NF. I learned quickly why there were not more stewards in the group.
As a person with camera, my job also included photographing esp birds we could not identify so that they can be reviewed by others. Troy recommended every group to carry at least a camera, binoculars, tripods...etc. We had a young intern that carried a tripod and other two had binoculars. As we were moving on, I realized that the powerlines also exist wayyyy behind cone mountain which is where we had to go from the powerlines in front of the mountains. :scared: ...hence the mysterious absence of other stewards. We started around 7.30 and took a lunch break around noon where Brown's mountain trail ended at second set of powerlines. I am pretty sure we all received a healthy dose of radiation......we were entertained by Harris hawks and some bikers.
The stretch of second powerlines is new to I really enjoyed that area which is filled with boulders and lots of washes. I will definitely go back there. The trail where the powerlines meet cone mountain is not recognized by conservancy but is well defined as it is used by bikers a lot.
Once we got to cone mountain, it was around 2pm. We still have over 3 miles to go :scared: I then realized it's been a year since I did a long hike. Actually I haven't been hiking much this season as I got busy with my new business. I decided that before my legs quit, I better take lead and charge forward. I became speedy gonzales......we are not seeing many birds anyway as it is middle of the point in a slow hike. The rest just followed me....must have bought my logic. We ended it at 3.30.....with 21 sps. Underwhelming number for sure. But apparently last year, it rained in the middle of the hike so they actually quit the count at half waypoint. I don't know last year's numbers. I actually don't have a copy of this year's numbers but will update this triplog if I get the list.
Most number seen were phainopeplas. Uncommon birds we saw were crissal thrashers and Brewer's sparrows. Most complained bird was gila woodpecker. We watched 2 red tailed in harmonies flight.....may be courtship.....not sure.
Overall, I really enjoyed the hike. Learned a lot from others. Probably will do it again next year....but should train my legs. They had dinner at Hacienda's. I ended up not going as I had to nurse my legs and started to work on photos. Worked out for the better as I texted photos to Lisa who was with other stewards at answers pretty fast.
Question 1: I thought our preserve is part of cave creek count count circle but I keep getting corrected. Need to talk to someone about it.
Question 2: Is HV not part of trail system....I couldn't find it here to add.
This must be my longest triplog here....editing is hard when the trip log exceeds my screen spell check either :sweat:
Final results are in my next triplog.
Upper Ranch Trail - MSPN
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The McDowell Sonoran Conservancy has a Human Trail Count the third Saturday of the month on dozen trails. On going now for about 3 years. We count hikers/runners, bikers, equestrians in 10 minute time periods for 2 hours. I was on Rustler a not very popular trail. One runner and three bikers in the 2 hour period.
Upper Ranch Trail - MSPN
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Browns Ranch Loop
Nice hike on some trails in the MSPN area with Ryan and Lauren. Saw our first rattler of the year spotted by Lauren in the third hiker position :o Good for Ryan and I it was on its best behavior. Nice morning hike.
Upper Ranch Trail - MSPN
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Did patrol hike today. Not very busy in the morning hours. Trails are in good shape despite recent rain. Pair of kestrels came to my eye level and followed me for a while. Lots of black throated sparrows and gnat catchers today. Nice to see cardinals back at the Th. Parking lot filled up by noon.
Upper Ranch Trail - MSPN
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This was a MSC Steward only fundraising hike for the Conservancy. Caroline and I hiked together and raised $700 from 25 donors! Advertising for the event encouraged hiking crazy hat or costume - - so of course Caroline and I both got our capes on and Wonder Woman gear. However we were the only ones in the hike or bike category that dressed up. Our capes had shredded edges by the end of the hike with all the cactus and wind combo.

Stopped for a break at Cathedral Rock and also went up to the Amphitheatre. Paul Staker led the hike - he is chair of MSC leadership team - was great to chat about goings on with him as I have missed a few CLT meetings with house move. Those CLT meetings are where you learn all the good stuff - real deal advance info from City personnel and MSC board, etc.

Proud of Caroline for raising so much money - helping me make the letter to ask for donations - talking to her friends' parents - and writing thank you notes to all our donors. Good life lessons there about volunteering and protecting land from development.
Upper Ranch Trail - MSPN
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Buckshot Trail
It was a great afternoon to try out a new trail. The weather was awesome so I was surprised not to see anyone else out on the trails. I also hike a couple of other trails that are not listed.
1. Broken Spoke Trail
2. High Desert Trail
The vegetation out here is larger than at the trailhead. Lots of Quail out today.
Upper Ranch Trail - MSPN
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Browns Mtn - Cathedral - Amphitheater Loop
It was fine time turtle got a bit of elevation in his rehab diet.
We were treated to a bobcat siting on the way in. Denny about wet himself.

Overcast, misted a couple of times, a bit of a breeze, the weather was perfect.
We saw a couple of hikers and some mountain bikers enjoying the day.

I ran the Turtle up Brown's Mountain, then was going to show him around some of the Brown's Ranch ruins.
The McDowell Mountain Conservancy had a large group of stewards out (15-20) in the Browns Ranch ruin area. They were comparing old documents/surveys to the current ruins, documenting and recording what they found.

Next off to show Denny the Metates at Cathedral Rock and a stop by the Ampitheater.

An enjoyable morning catching up with my favorite Testudine. :y:
Upper Ranch Trail - MSPN
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Rain was predicted - but it looked further north - so we headed out in our rain gear to do a little loop. But then it started to drizzle and quickly turned into a hail storm by the time we got back to the trailhead. Sound of hail on the roof of TH is very loud. Poor Brad carrying George. I guess poor George too. Caroline and I kind of enjoyed it - we were jogging and laughing and then cheering for the boys to hurry up. Guess we should not have gone on the hike - but we are generally cautious people - so this was a fun misadventure.

Dinner at Pinnacle Peak Patio afterwards looking like wet dogs :lol:
Upper Ranch Trail - MSPN
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Hiked to the summit with two friends, new pooch, and my wife.

My wife is terrified of heights, and I mean to a degree of physiological terror. She gets close to fainting if she visually perceives enough of an elevation "problem." So I am tremendously proud of her for tackling this one and making it all the way to the top. She was scared, and we were slow on the final approach, but she overcame. This is probably the highest peak she's ever climbed in her life.

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Map Drive

To Brown's Ranch Trailhead
From the 101 in North Scottsdale, drive North on Pima/Princess drive and go East on Happy Valley Road to the stop sign at the instersection of Happy Valley & Alma School Road. Follow Alma School Road North past Dynamite until it ends at Brown's Ranch Trailhead.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 34.0 mi - 44m
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 135 mi - 2h 4m
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 139 mi - 2h 15m
page created by joebartels on Dec 26 2014 5:07 pm
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