MSP central region artery
The Gooseneck Trail is the main artery running through the Central (AKA Gooseneck) region of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and connects the Fraesfield Trailhead to the Tom's Thumb Trailhead. This 6.5 mile segment is part of the larger Maricopa Trail and offers side branches to the McDowell Mountain Regional Park trails as well.
The land surrounding this trail and its tributaries was purchased by the City of Scottsdale from Arizona State Land Trust at auction on December 7, 2011 for $41 million dollars ("The People's Preserve" p. 66 by Joan C. Fudala). This critical purchase created a continuous trail system between the Northern region (Granite Mountain, Brown's Mountain) and the Southern Region (Lost Dog, Gateway), and as of 2014 the McDowell Sonoran Preserve contains just over 30,000 acres and represents 1/3rd of the land total of Scottsdale.
The coordinates for the start of this trail segment are from GN1 trail marker at the Fraesfield Trailhead. There is ample parking and a separate equestrian area but no water and no map signs. The first 0.8 miles run parallel to Dynamite Blvd/Rio Verde Drive and are unremarkable. Traffic is visible from the trail. After crossing the road at 128th Street, the next 2.2 miles run parallel to 128th Street on its western border. Between markers GN3 and GN5 you will find very tall stands of creosote (some more than 6 feet tall). At GN5 marker is a branch point for Redbird Trail which is 1.6 miles in total length.
Continue on Gooseneck trail past the very large pack rat midden under a mesquite tree on the right side of the trail. Then at GN7 marker is the junction with Jomax Road and private property to the east. Continue to the four-way intersection at GN9/10 markers for quite the surprise: a very large ranching water tank. Investigate for animal tracks if the tank is full and stop for a break in the shade of the trees. There are Service Roads that run east/west here that could be used to make loops in the area.
The next 0.4 miles to the west of 128th Street run along the raised berm of the water tank and offer 180 degree view of Tom's Thumb and the associated ridgeline. After crossing 128th Street at markers GN12/GN13, travel one mile before reaching connecting trails to McDowell Mountain County park trail. If you continue on Gooseneck past markers GN17/19, the trail becomes more narrow with many small, picturesque granite rock formations. At the end of the trail is GN21 marker and you may choose to take Rock Knob Trail to Marcus Landslide Trail (west) or to the Pemberton Trail (east).
Look for the blue colored paper map of the Central region to explore the many loop permutations nearby or make this a shuttle hike as I did with one car at Frasefield TH and one at Tom's Thumb TH. High clearance vehicles can travel on the unpaved 128th Street between the two trailheads. Bikers and equestrians will find Gooseneck trail and the Central Region of the Preserve very inviting as well.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
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.