Showing posts with label Pinnacle Peak. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pinnacle Peak. Show all posts

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Scottsdale: Hiking through Old West History

Just a mile and a half north of Pinnacle Peak and the Four Seasons Resort we found ourselves at the end of the road, looking out over a vast expanse of undeveloped land; land, a sign told us, that was once part of Mexico.

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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.

PicMonkey Collage

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.

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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.

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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!

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Many lead to, over and around gently rolling hills, Brown’s Mountain, Granite Mountain, Cone Mountain, Cholla Mountain and Balanced Rock.

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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.

ScottsdaleNov2013 013A 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.

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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.

PicMonkey Collage

We found just rusted remains of the ranch in the area we walked. . .

PicMonkey Collage

. . .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!

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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.

ScottsdaleNov2013 036That’s it for Travel Photo Thursday at TravelnWrite, so saddle up and head over to Budget Travelers Sandbox for more armchair travels.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Arizona: Take a Hike! Or a Walk in the Park . . .

Pinnacle Peak is a neighbor of our Scottsdale timeshare.  And we had only last June’s  100-degree temperatures to blame for not getting acquainted then. We finally met in December.

A Walk in the Park

PFourSeasons2012 009innacle Peak is the centerpiece and namesake of the 150-acre Scottsdale city park Pinnacle Peak Park that abuts the  Four Seasons Hotel and Residence Club Troon North.

We aren’t talking a slow stroll through an oasis of green with leafy trees and carpets of lawn. We are talking a 1.75 mile, (moderate-difficulty) trail of naturally decomposed granite that took us to an elevation of 2,570 feet.

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The trail is an IN and OUT trail, not a loop – so what you walk going in will also be your route out and you’ll be walking 3.5 miles if you do it all.  And its wide, 4 – 6 feet in most places which is good as signs tell pedestrians to yield to horseback riders (as if we wouldn’t, right?)

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Pinnacle Peak is a granite summit that rises 600 feet from the valley floor to a height of some mountain passes in Washington State at 3,171 feet. 

The trail elevation rises only to 2,570 feet and it takes about two hours at a leisurely pace to complete the hike in and out.

Several passed us who were jogging its length and others were sucking air within minutes of starting the climb – know your limitations!

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We posed at the trail's summit, our dress, as you can tell from the photo, was for sun protection -- hats, sun glasses, sleeves  -- as well as for ‘critter and bush’ protection – long pants and closed-toed shoes.  We didn’t encounter any critters but the place is home to several varieties (rattlesnakes, Gila monsters and coyotes to name a few). I carried bottled water in that bag at my side; water and restrooms were available at the trail head.

Take a Hike! (but know your limits)

So inspired were we by Pinnacle Peak that we decided on a subsequent outing to try the newly-opened Tom’s Thumb Trail head, a few miles away in the heart of the scenic 21,400-acre McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

FourSeasons2012 067In October 2012 the new trail system opened with five miles of new multi-use trails that include the Marcus Landslide Interpretive Trail.

There is no water available here and despite being only three miles off Dynamite Blvd., a main thoroughfare in Scottsdale, the area is remote.  The view’s literally for as far as the eye can see:

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That’s the roadway leading to the trail head that bisects the photo above.

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Unlike Pinnacle Peak, this trail – as we learned after we got there – has a vertical climb of 800-feet, it is steep and the decomposing granite makes for a slip-sliding experience (bring a walking stick and hiking boots for this one.) 

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The Interpretive Center has restrooms and signage but no vending machines for beverages or water – you need to bring your own.

If you Go:

Pinnacle Peak Park, 26802 N. 102nd Way (Jomax Road).

Tom’s Thumb Trail head, 23015 128th St. (three miles off Dynamite Blvd.)

Information about both at:

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 Thanks for stopping by today.  Hope to see you back again on Travel Photo Thursday when we head to. . . (you’ll just have to come back to see where we are off to next!)

Until then, happy travels.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Taste of Travel: Reata Pass Scottsdale AZ

Arizona Spring 2012 236A dust-filled rocky trail once led over Reata Pass just to the north of downtown Scottsdale, Arizona. In 1882 there was a one-room stage station there that served the coaches traveling between Phoenix and Fort McDowell on the Verde River. 

Reata Pass is now where we have our timeshare ‘home away from home’ at the Four Seasons Scottsdale Residence Club.  So close were we to the summit that from our place we could see the old water tower.

Our location put us conveniently between three wonderful Scottsdale eatery traditions: the Cavalliere family’s Reata Pass Steakhouse (which was closed for the season) and their Greasewood Flat outdoor eatery (click the link to read about it.)

Arizona Spring 2012 214This time – with a whole week in which to explore the area – we ‘discovered’ Pinnacle Peak Patio – and I say that with a smile because the place has been around since 1957 and we’d never even heard of it until last week.  (Have you noticed? There is just too much to discover when you travel!)

Arizona Spring 2012 243Perhaps a bit touristy, but if you want a taste of the Old West – not to mention some good ol’ Western hospitality – this expansive eatery and brewery (Cowgirl Blonde Ale and Gunslinger Stout among the brews) is the place to go.

We made two visits: once to belly up to the bar and sip some margaritas and the second time to fulfill a need for animal protein.

Arizona Spring 2012 242We dined at the outdoor picnic tables (open from April to October) and listened to some country music. Looking to the west we saw Pinnacle Peak and to the east Troon Mountain.

A  post about this place wouldn’t be complete without mentioning “Big Marv” Dickson – ‘a man of many steaks’ – who came to work here back in the 60’s as a dishwasher/landscaper and progressed up the food chain, you might say. He now holds the distinction of ‘having cooked more than 11 million mesquite grilled steaks.” So. . .that might be a tall tale, but with the number of steaks we saw being served we have no doubt it might be true.

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This was our picnic table view of  Troon Mountain, elevation 3,478-feet (1,060M). To put that in perspective, the elevation of Washington State's Snoqualmie Pass is 3,022-feet (921M).

If You Go:  North on Pima Road to Happy Valley (you’ll see Pinnacle Peak) Follow Happy Valley to Alma School Road. Left on Jomax to reach Pinnacle Peak Patio (10426 E Jomax Rd. 85262, phone 480-585-1599) or continue on to Greasewood Flat and Reata Pass.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

TP Thursday: The Arizona Oracle

We are in America’s Southwest this week and it seemed fitting to highlight the stark beauty that is found in this arid region of the country.four seasons scottsdale 013

We were near Pinnacle Peak, to the north of Scottsdale and exploring the Four Seasons Resort . . .as we walked from the Residence Club parking lot to the hotel, this was what we saw between two of the casitas.  It was as if the rock was addressing the two saguaro cactus . . . we could only imagine the stories the rock could tell.

For other travel photos, check out Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Friday, March 11, 2011

High Plains Drifters in the Sonoran Desert

Saguaro Cactus - Arizona's Sonoran Desert
j. smith photo, (c) 2011
The High Plains Drifters believe we are in the Sonoran Desert. All the travel guides are promoting hotels with views of it, golf courses that blanket it and excursions that could take you further into it.  It's a stark, dry, and somewhat intimidating place because it is so vast -- as are the cities clustered around Phoenix, which continue to spread their roads and homes out over its flat monotone surface.  Coming from the Evergreen State and its towering mountains, this place has required that stretch from the comfort zone that we are seeking when we set out on new adventures.

The Timeshare Trail led us south from Las Vegas, past Hoover Dam (more on that later), over a ribbon of highway that stretched off as far as your eye could see into the distance. It lead us through remnants of the old American West.  We passed places that just sort of appeared, all alone, hugging the highway; places like Rosie's Den offering 47-cent a cup coffee which was just down the road from  the Last Chance where you could eat the best burger.  We drove a section of Route 66 in the town of Kingman, a frontier town founded in 1882.  For those of you watching our soaring gasoline prices, the price there was $3.74 a gallon.

Just beyond Haulupai Mountain Park was the small Wikiup, AZ with a couple cafes and motels and where we noted the first sighting of saguaro cactus, those towering sentenals of the Southwest that live so long, they don't start growing 'arms' for the first 50 - 60 years of life.

We set up 'housekeeping' for the week in Diamond Resort's Scottsdale Links Resort.  We've explored the town in Ol' Orange (still the only car we've seen painted that color); me with two maps spread out on my lap and Joel's head swiveling as he announced crossroads and intersections in hopes I could assure him we were going the right direction for whatever our intended destination.

In the course of the week, thanks to several of you, we've found some new 'finds' and visited some old  favorites, I'll tell you about those places soon.  And while here, we fell in love with Pinnacle Peak, one of our directonal landmarks and a striking bit of scenery. I have more to tell ya about it, but fer now gotta pack up as we are headin' to Tucson today and Ol' Orange is awaitin'.


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