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ParadiseGatewayDesertPark-MSP, AZ
mini location map2013-03-25
2 by photographer avatarSgtLumpy
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ParadiseGatewayDesertPark-MSP, AZ 
ParadiseGatewayDesertPark-MSP, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 25 2013
Hiking11.38 Miles 2,064 AEG
Hiking11.38 Miles   4 Hrs   44 Mns   2.69 mph
2,064 ft AEG      30 Mns Break20 LBS Pack
1st trip
Another of my "Goofy Loop" hikes in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Scottsdale AZ.

The wonderful part about being retired is that you don't have to be anywhere at any particular time. Of course to some, that's also the horrible part about being retired. In my case, it's definitely a positive. No more tan lines where my wrist watch used to be.

With no particular destination in mind, I simply started out hiking the MSP at the Gateway Trailhead, as I typically do. Jumped around the heavily traveled Gateway Loop Trail - south on some parallel trail that I'm not sure of the name. I've been there before but never noticed there's a fallen stone building on the trail. The foundation looks still intact. It's relatively modern, I'd say. Perhaps some 20th century ranch building, spring house, tool shed etc from the old Brown's or DC ranch days in the mid 1900s.

This trail connects to another unnamed trail as it passes Paradise Trail and heads toward the fenced in mine that you can see from the south part of Gateway Loop and the West part of Bell Pass Trail. The trail is closed once you get up there about a quarter mile so I turned back, headed south on Paradise Trail.

Paradise Trail is one of those trails that starts in the preserve, then leaves the preserve and follows the creek bed through a Scottsdale subdivision. Not quite the luxury mansions that you find on the NORTH side of the Gateway, but not exactly the slums. Since it's spring, and we've had considerable rain in the past 30 days, the flora is pretty lush and overgrown. That tends to hide the fact that you're a stone's throw away from residences on both your right and left.

Just after leaving the preserve, I kicked over a cairn and went EAST up a little trail that looked lightly traveled. It was one of what I call "Party Trails". The local idiots hike up those a hundred yards or so, party, leave trash etc. I spent quite some time digging out all the broken green glass bottle trash I could find from one of the party spots.

Continued south on Paradise Trail to it's juncture with Quartz Trail. This is still heavily residential. You can hike just a short way OUT of the stream bed and reach the Paradise Trailhead parking area, shopping center, schools, heavy traffic. Or you could turn LEFT-EAST and get onto Quartz Trail and head toward the State Land Permit restricted area. I chose to simply turn around and return to MSP. This trail is relatively level, downhill toward Paradise Trailhead, slightly uphill toward Gateway. Nothing strenuous at all.

Back at Gateway Loop, I joined the traffic pattern counter clockwise and went over Gateway Saddle to Windgate Pass Trail. Turn RIGHT-EAST there and I'm now on the "roller-coaster" part of Windgate. Lots of clearly inexperienced hikers in inappropriate clothing, no water etc typically gather at the trail markers there at Gateway x Windgate junction. One of them looks at the sign and says "Oh we could go to Bell Pass either way from here". For those not familiar, getting to Bell Pass is grueling from one direction due to the elevation gain. Less grueling but several miles of up-down-up-down in the other direction. Not exactly what I'd recommend for someone wearing Ugg boots with no water.

OK, up Windgate Pass Trail to Tom's Thumb Trail. I like this part of the preserve a lot. You can look NORTH into some pretty steep canyons and see a lot of undisturbed flora and fauna. I took the Tom's Thumb trail across those canyons to what I call Desert Park to Tom's Thumb Cutoff. That little piece of trail seems very lightly traveled. It leads back toward "civilization" and joins with Desert Park Trail which, at this point, is NOT within the MSP, but still Scottsdale City Park and protected.

Then turn back SOUTH toward Gateway Loop Trail on Desert Park Trail proper. It's about one half mile across the canyons to Gateway Loop. About half way through that you come to the marked entrance to the preserve. I'm always humored by the signs at nearly all Scottsdale City Parks "No weapons except guns and knives". I was glad I didn't have my rocket launcher.

Soon back on Gateway Loop, I headed WEST toward the Gateway Trailhead. But before reaching there, made a RIGHT-NORTHWEST on Horseshoe Trail. This trail is pretty short, just over a mile I think. It joins with Desert Park Trail which then returns to the final destination of Gateway Trailhead. The trail is pretty flat and easy. I hike this small loop mainly because there are lots of idiots on this easy trail. I picked up 3 or 4 cigarette butts, more broken glass, dog poo bags. As I mentioned in another triplog, I consider this kind of trash "Stupid Trash" as opposed to "Incidental Trash", like nuts and bolts or shoe parts that simply fall off trail users.

Pretty much combined nearly all types of trails here, out and back, loop, lassoo, big loops, little loops, figure 8s. A little under 12 miles, a little under 5 hours including a couple of lengthy stops to pick up trash.

Hike like you need a root canal the following day -

Sgt Lumpy - n0eq
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Extreme
Every subsequent day I hike this area I see more and more Mexican Poppies, purple cactus blooms and African Dasies. Huge fields of them in the more sun exposed slopes.
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