Pemberton Trail - MMRP, AZ | HikeArizona
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Pemberton Trail - MMRP, AZ

Guide 259 Triplogs  1 Topic
  2.7 of 5 
1.3k 259 1
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 15.25 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,960 feet
Elevation Gain 620 feet
Accumulated Gain 850 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 6-8 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 19.5
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author avatar Guides 9
Routes 0
Photos 120
Trips 117 map ( 396 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Mesa, AZ
Associated Areas
list map done
Phoenix Region
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb → Early
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  7:31am - 5:27pm
Official Route
35 Alternative

long, flat, long, flat
by ck_1

  Likely In-Season!
Rerouted in early 2013 to NOT follow the service road at the north end of the park.

The Pemberton Trail is the longest hike in McDowell Mountain Park. This long loop hike has varied terrain and wonderful views of Four Peaks and the Rim to the North. Weaver's Needle and the Superstition Mountains are also visible from this trail. Begin your hike at the Trailhead Group Area. Hiking the 15.3-mile trail counter-clockwise will allow you to experience the elevation changes and varied terrain at the tail end of the hike. The trail begins to the North of the parking area driveway. Rather quickly, the Scenic Trail shoots off to the right and offers a 3-mile option as it returns to the Pemberton farther North. About a mile and a half into your hike, the trail crosses McDowell Mt. Park Dr. Continue on the trail to Cedar Tank at the 3-mile mark.

At this point, you will be heading west toward the corner of the park. There is an additional walk-in entry to the park at about the 6-mile mark along this stretch of trail. The trail makes an abrupt turn south toward Granite Tank. You will be walking toward the actual mountain range. Although it will seem that you will reach the mountains, you will not. This is where the hike becomes interesting. The unusual rock formations along this stretch of the trail make for interesting photographs. The trail continues past Rock Knob to the right and Tonto Tank to the left until it begins to turn East at approximately 13 miles. Throughout this section, the terrain is broken. However, this is the most scenic section of the trail. After passing the old Pemberton Ranch site with less than a mile to go, the trail will again cross the park drive and end with a straight shot back to the parking area.

The total elevation gain on this hike is less than 1000 ft. There is no water along the trail. Elevation at the trailhead is 1960 feet. My evaluation of the trail is that it makes for excellent mountain biking. As a hiking trail, it is too long and dull to hold the hiker's interest. It is possible to break the hike into segments by connecting with other park trails. This is a popular trail for trail runners due to its flat, even terrain and mountain bikers for its length. Bike it, don't hike it.

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2001-09-27 ck_1
  • overview map competitive tracks hunting zone campgrounds
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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.

Permit $$
Maricopa Regional Parks - 2021 [ fees ]

$7 per vehicle,$85 annual or trade your first born for the life pass

$2 walk, bike or horse ride into park

2021 [ hours ] - varies by park & season

Paved - Car Okay

To hike
From Shea Blvd, take Fountain Hills Blvd if coming from the West, Saguaro, from the East to McDowell Mtn. Road. The road heads North away from Fountain Hills. Turn left at the entrance to McDowell Mountain Park. Yes, you have to pay to enter. Take the park drive past the family and group campgrounds to Shalimo Dr. Turn right and follow the road to Trailhead Group Area.

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