The road we had driven to get here – past numerous housing developments that make up this area in north Scottsdale -- had once been the route of cattle drives.
We were at Brown’s Ranch Trailhead, the newest section of Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve. A grand opening celebration took place only weeks before our arrival although the trails that loop through this area have been open since June.
Once home to a sprawling cattle ranch, this newest recreational facility in the area has a large information center (pictured above),water (for humans and their furry friends), restrooms, an equestrian staging area, 200-car parking lot with plenty of handicapped spaces and parking for two-dozen horse trailers.
The Trailhead offers some 60 miles of non-motorized, multi-use – hike, bike and equestrian – trails; from beginner to intermediate. There is even a wheelchair-accessible Jane Rau Trail loop that leaves the main trail near the entrance and provides a scenic loop over the acreage. So many trails to choose from that it could take days or weeks to try them all out!
Many lead to, over and around gently rolling hills, Brown’s Mountain, Granite Mountain, Cone Mountain, Cholla Mountain and Balanced Rock.
We set out to hike up Brown’s Mountain, (the one on the right in the photo above), on a Thursday morning. You can tell from this empty parking lot that we nearly had the place to ourselves. In fact, we saw six people during the two hours we were on the site of the former ranch.
A series of switchbacks led up the eastside
of the mountain, one of two dormant
volcanic sites in Scottsdale.
We wore tennis shoes as we’d left our hiking boots home and did just fine until we almost reached the top.
A sign posted at the last portion of the trail -- a steep, narrow trail -- coupled with watching three others with hiking poles slip-sliding their way down, caused us to pass on the last 0.2 miles.
So we paused near the top for photos (to prove ‘60-somethings’ can still climb mountains) and then it was down the other side to explore more of the land that made up the ranch established by E.O. Brown in 1916 and run by his sons until the 1960’s.
We found just rusted remains of the ranch in the area we walked. . .
. . .which fueled our imaginations about life in the real “old West” – not the one we grew up watching on black and white televisions – and sparked plans to return on our next visit to explore a bit further!
If You Go:
Brown’s Ranch Trailhead’s address is: 30301 North Alma School Parkway, Scottsdale, Arizona. To get there, take Scottsdale Road or Pima Road north to Dynamite Blvd. Head east on Dynamite. At Alma School Road turn left, and head north.
The loop route we followed was about seven miles in length. We found this hike to be far less congested than the popular Pinnacle Peak trail and far less difficult than the Tom’s Thumb Trail, also just down the road.
That’s it for Travel Photo Thursday at TravelnWrite, so saddle up and head over to Budget Travelers Sandbox for more armchair travels.