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Brown's Mountain Trail - MSPN, AZ

no permit
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Guide 49 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NE
2.8 of 5 by 11
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 1.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,759 feet
Elevation Gain 528 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 3.84
Interest Historic & Peak
Backpack No
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
11  2019-05-18 Crzy4AZ
4  2018-12-27
Brown's Mountain Summit via Upper Ranch
6  2017-11-11
Granite Mountain Loop Trail - MSPN
11  2017-10-11
Chuckwagon Trail - MSPN
2  2017-08-26
Brown's Mountain Summit (MSP)
3  2016-04-23
Hawksnest - High Desert Loop
4  2016-04-09
Browns Ranch Loop
10  2016-04-03
Brown's Mountain Summit via Upper Ranch
Page 1,  2,  3,  4
Author neilends
author avatar Guides 8
Routes 16
Photos 182
Trips 140 map ( 670 miles )
Age 47 Male Gender
Location Scottsdale
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Feb, Nov, Jan → 7 AM
Seasons   Winter to Early Spring
Sun  6:15am - 6:26pm
Official Route
11 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
A shot of hiking espresso
by neilends

Climbing Brown's Mountain is kind of like drinking a shot of espresso: after a pretty short 1.6 mile hike, your trail reward is an explosion of expansive views from a nice little cliff. If you're trying to get a mountain view without leaving the Phoenix metro area, and without the longer (and annoyingly crowded) effort of Piestewa, Camelback or Tom's Thumb, this is your spot.

Textbook desert hike. Bring ample water and be educated about hot weather hiking.

Trail Identification
I think the trail names are a little confusing here so here are a few words on that. The trail known as "Brown's Mountain Trail" doesn't start until you've hiked about 0.6 miles on another trail, called Brown's Ranch Road. Study the official McDowell-Sonoran Preserve map if you're at all confused. If you don't take the required left turn at 0.6 miles, you will continue onto Brown's Ranch Road and do a partial circumference of the mountain. I don't know why MSP decided to call this a "road" but it is definitely a trail.

The trail to the summit starts at the clearly-marked and paved Brown's Ranch Trailhead. For about 0.6 miles you will walk down the flat and easy "Brown's Ranch Road" trail. This northern section of the MSP is popular with mountain bikers so you'll be passed by plenty of them on this stretch. This is a popular walking trail for area residents so expect some crowds in nice weather.

At 0.6 miles, there's an official sign pointing you to your left to reach the summit of Brown's Mountain. This is where Brown's Mountain Trail actually begins. What's fun about this mountain is that, both from the trailhead and from this 0.6 mile marker, you can look up and directly see your objective. The cliff-like summit might look daunting to a novice hiker or someone not in great shape. But this is one of the easiest mountain climbs in the metro area. For another 0.7 miles, you gradually make a few easy switchbacks up the mountainside.

After that 0.7 miles, there's a sign giving you two options: to your right is a scenic overlook, and to the left is the summit. If you're not up for the 0.2 mile scramble to the summit but still want a nice view, the overlook is lovely and a good place for photos. The summit trail to the left features some loose footing, so hike it with care. My wife has a physiological fear of heights (dizziness, loss of balance), so she needed some hand-holding and cheerleading to make it up, but she was successful and can't wait to do it again.

This summit if you reach it is one of my favorites in town, despite the ease of reaching it. Be careful near the cliff edges. The 360 views are expansive.

On a clear day you can see the Four Peaks and Battleship Mountain in the Superstitions, Camelback Mountain, Piestewa Peak, the South Mountain range, and many others. You can also see the parking lot that you walked in from. The views of the Preserve itself are also delicious. Brown's Ranch was an active ranch for decades, and most of the ranch buildings were at the foot of this mountain. In 1959, a bunch of ranch hands evidently scrambled up this mountain to lay some foundation for a structure, and carved their names into a small concrete pad at the top. You'll know the year because one of them carved "1959" next to his name.

If you skip the summit trail altogether or want to continue on Brown's Mountain Trail, you can continue on until connecting with the Upper Ranch Trail.

Water Sources
Water fountains for both humans and dogs are at the trailhead.


Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2017-08-27 neilends
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    MSPN Trail List
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    MSPN Gate Schedule
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    McD Sonoran Preserves - North 2015 - 1
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    Axle & West
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 18 deeper Triplog Reviews
Brown's Mountain Trail - MSPN
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Got some friends together for a bike ride. None of them having ever been to Brown's Ranch, I figured this would be a good one to introduce them to the area. Actual rout was brown's ranch road to Corral, then around Cholla Mountain, then to balanced rock, then a loop around Granite Mountain, then pipeline to the new section of Chuckwagon back to the lot. I like the new section of Chuck wagon. It helps with the boring Pipeline road. I only wish it went further east. I guess the other option is to go all the way down to Latigo. I do like the granite mountain loop a lot. There is always some rental/tour groups out here and this day there was also an REI group ride. It looks like they already started construction on the new parking area on Pima/Dynamite.
Brown's Mountain Trail - MSPN
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Brown's Mountain Summit (MSP)
Took it easy this weekend after over-doing it last weekend. Hiked to the summit of Brown's Mountain from the Brown's Ranch Trailhead. Hit the trail around 6:20 so it was getting a little warm as I hiked up, but this is a short and easy hike. I of course got my obligatory 360 photo from the summit:

Also spotted a desert tortoise. Photos to come.
Brown's Mountain 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.
Brown's Mountain Trail - MSPN
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Did this hike from the parking lot on Alma School up the the Brown's Summit spur. I recorded 3.1 miles round trip and 502AEG. The hike was a bit easier than I expected, the trail is very smooth and the incline is gradual other than the last spur up to the summit. Good day to be on the trail and the views are fantastic from the top.
Brown's Mountain 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:
Brown's Mountain 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.
Brown's Mountain Trail - MSPN
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Goldie Brown
Given the very nice day, we decided to head over to North Region of the McDowell Preserve to get in a few miles. With a clear sky, light breeze and temps in the low to mid 70s, it would be impossible to imagine a more perfect time to have some dirt under your feet.

Looped around Cone and then came up Goldie Brown from the North side. Had never been up Brown before. Really nice views from the top.

Dropped back down the south side and headed back to the trailhead. Made for a very nice stroll.
Brown's Mountain Trail - MSPN
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It was a beautiful afternoon for a hike. I did not have a hike planned so Rowdy and I just started hiking and this how we ended up. The weather was very nice and the crowds were small perfect. We started out on the Latigo Trail and the rest is history. I did notice such a difference in this hike from the one we did yesterday. The plants were not the same even though the trails were not that far apart.
Brown's Mountain Trail - MSPN
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Me and my girlfriend took a friend of mine on an easy hike. Pretty warm out there this morning, and the trails were pretty busy. Did a figure 8 loop with Brown's Mountain Trail, Upper Ranch, and Wrangler back to the TH. Had never been on Upper Ranch or Wrangler. Nothing too exciting but nice walks through some healthy desert scenery. There was a rattlesnake crossing the path right at the trailhead with several people crowding around watching it go by. 2nd one I've seen so far this season. Decent amount of wildflowers in the area but nothing spectacular.
Brown's Mountain Trail - MSPN
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Now THIS is the way to get to Brown's Mtn summit in northern MSP. If you are aggravated by traffic on Brown's Ranch Road or that's it's a boring, sandy trail . . . then take this route via Wrangler Trail in a loop.

Brown's Ranch Rd :next: Upper Ranch :next: Wrangler :next: Brown's Mtn trail :next: spur up/back :next: Brown's Mtn :next: Upper Ranch :next: Brown's Ranch Rd.

Avoid some traffic and Wrangler has nice little ups/downs and prettier scenery.

Met two MSC stewards (one from class 12 and one from class 40) - - then almost to the scenic lookout I ran into two more stewards that I know and wanted to hike with (Marsha and Lynne) - - what luck! They were headed a different way - so I went up to the summit for lunch then back down in a loop.

Permit $$

Map Drive
Connector trail - Not Applicable

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 Aug 27 2017 12:54 pm
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