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Dixie Union Loop - Sonoran Preserve, AZ
mini location map2014-01-18
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Dixie Union Loop - Sonoran Preserve, AZ 
Dixie Union Loop - Sonoran Preserve, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 18 2014
Hiking10.78 Miles 1,973 AEG
Hiking10.78 Miles   4 Hrs   55 Mns   2.53 mph
1,973 ft AEG      39 Mns Break
1st trip
Was going to try and put together 8 miles or so using the Cave Creek Recreational area but then for some reason I decided I wanted to try out those new trails people have been hiking in N Phx. I started searching Dixie Loop and found Bruce's route and decided I would do that.

Well first off the driving directions using Mapdex are incorrect (except I did miss that turn at Quail) as I ended up in a residential neighborhood. Fortunately a neighbor knew where the TH was which was back down to Copperhead, past the Community Center and hang a right (NE).

The hike starts you right up the hill for .39 miles on the H Hawk's Nest Trail where you come to the saddle with the D Dixie Mountain Loop Trail going in both directions. However, before getting there you reach the intersection that has markers of H and DT. I thot DT was Dixie Trail but fortunately the people behind me said they were going to take the Desert Tortoise Trail... so I knew to keep going on the Hawk's Nest. (I just found out that if you look closely at the tag on the marker, it lists the name of the trail by the letter).

I didn't fare too well :sk: with my lunch here so after recovering from that I headed to the west as I was going to do the Loop clockwise. Here is the only place where I got closer to the houses but not bad before heading safely east again between two little mountains. I passed the rusted suburban. I noticed in my movie that I could have gotten a neat picture with the shadow it created and such but I didn't.

Next you go through a little teddy forest before reaching the intersection with W Western Vista. I didn't study this route before embarking so I wasn't sure if this was Dixie Peak or not :? . Once again some other hikers came along and she said "no, Dixie is over there." pointing to the east. So off I went again. The trail goes a bit farther NW before making a big u-turn and heading east. It was around this area that I decided I wasn't really feeling it today so I wasn't sure if I would finish what I set off to do.

Nonetheless, I would soon find myself climbing to DS Dixie Summit (after hitting a saddle and rounding a corner). It was shady for part of this climb which reminded me a bit of the hike up to Sunrise Summit but with a much nicer trail. I reached the top fairly quickly. There was a foreign couple and their baby up top so I didn't stay long except to take a 360 video and capture a few photos. The views are pretty far and wide and the air seemed pretty clear for the most part.

Down the trail I went, continuing south until the intersection with the V Valle VERDE Trail (per the Sonoran Preserve map). This part of the trail is kind of pretty for a bit and then you reach the C Cactus Wren Trail. By this time, you're pretty much right in the middle area between the peaks. You do pass thru a more flora area before going back to the desert scrub which is what you mostly see on this Loop.

I was starting to wonder here where I would see the dam and then I thot, maybe Bruce went off trail to get to the dam (and I speculated such on the video too) ;) . Yes, I forgot to download his route [-( . I came to a section where the old road went straight and the trail went to the right (south) and thot I should take the road as I was pretty sure the dam was in that direction (SE). However, I continued on the trail and past the intersection with the GO Great Horned Owl Trail thinking I might see the dam a little higher up. I checked Scout but without my glasses I couldn't get a good enough look at the map so I resigned myself to "next time".

So I headed toward UP Union Peak deciding that summiting that would be my punishment for not downloading Bruce's route. This is an interesting part of the trail as it gradually takes you up and around to the north side for your climb up. As I was hiking I saw that the Peak was over to the SW so I thot getting there would involve a ridge walk and I was right. I also decided that since it was .45 miles to the summit that it wouldn't be too steep and it wasn't. On my way up as you make your way to the east side of the mountain, THERE was the :pk: dam. Well at least I got a couple pics of it and somehow managed to get the helicopter above it. A helicopter had been flying around for an hour it seemed but I couldn't tell what it was up to.
As I was crossing the ridge line I encountered a lady who said she's never run into anyone on the summit before so she was surprised. She lives below and climbs this mountain as her after work hike. Well that would be nice wouldn't it?! :)

After taking my pictures and on my way back, I saw what looked like a trail that headed west and south down the mountain. I took that for a little bit but it looks like it will take you south off the mountain and eventually over to the Owl outer trail (at least based on satellite). That might be something fun to do in the future but at this point it was 5PM and I was a little tired and still had 3 or more miles to get back to the TH.

The shadows from the mountains were covering a lot of territory now as I finished off the Owl Trail and hit the Valle Trail again. I was counting down the miles now. My stupid Scout II once again failed to reset the computer ](*,) despite me checking that all was on 0. Come to find out, there is a glitch with the Oregon 450 in the reset process that I think I now have under control. I also had my Map my Hike app running (stuck in the back of my pack) but I can't hear what the miles are as there is no warning when she tells you so all I hear are the intervals (which are interesting). It would be nice if there was a double beep so I would know to stop and listen for the mileage quote. So by this time I don't know if I've done 8 or 9 miles. Not that it matters as I've got to get back to the TH anyway.

As I came up the V Valle Trail hill to meet back up with the Dixie Loop, there were a couple families talking rather loudly on their way down. It was around 5:30 at this point and the area was fully shaded as the sun was setting so I'm thinking they lived in the 'hood and were just making a quick jaunt. As I came around the corner of the D I could see a fabulous sunset was brewing. I aimed the camera toward the top of the mountainside but all I got was a glob of sun. But then I saw a saguaro and I was able to get that in the photo; now I had something.

I continued on and turned left at H Hawk's Nest not realizing what awaited me around the bend. I thot I heard owls, I stopped, I listened, I continued on and heard them again. Ahead I saw a black blob in a tree. Was that an owl or mistletoe? Couldn't tell, then could tell. I did get lucky :y: , it was the owl. I captured this long moment both in photos and on film I didn't feel like I had the best day hiking so this was a nice reward for all my perseverance... not to mention the awesome sunset I was also seeing :DANCE: . The video (5) has this whole encounter and you can hear the owls hooting (even above the plane engines of Deer Valley Airport).

I was pleased as punch (whatever that means :-k ) when I got back to Tonto. Needless to say, I have to go back out there. I think I figured out how to get to the dam but I'll also download Bruce's route this time. Also, the trails are really in perfect condition. Once again, great trails for runners and bikers.

Video 1 Dixie Mountain Loop:
Video 2 Dixie Mountain Loop, Summit, on the Valle:
Video 3 Valle Verde Trail to Cactus Wren to Great Horned Owl Trail
Video 4 Great Horned Owl, Union Peak
Video 5 from junction of Great Horned Owl and Valle trail, Dixie Mtn Loop, Hawk's Nest Trail including owls and sunset
Great Horned Owl
For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination.
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.
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