Showing posts with label hiking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hiking. 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.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Just west of Las Vegas we hit the Jackpot!

Mother Nature provided this win just a few minutes drive and a world away from Las Vegas. Because we had a rental car for the road trip from Santa Barbara, we were able to get away from The Strip and see what else Vegas has to offer. It may have been the first time we visited the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area but it certainly won't be the last. And next time we'll bring our hiking boots!

Visiting the Canyon on an early Saturday morning, we paid the $5 federal entrance fee and then joined a parade of cars winding our way through the canyon on a 13-mile, one-way scenic loop. Shutterbugs like me couldn't resist stopping at each of the overlooks scattered along the route and conveniently each overlook provided ample parking - a plus for Joel, the driver.

There are some 19 hiking trails that lead off into the canyon from the overlook parking areas, ranging from easy walks to more 'strenuous' routes both in terms of distance and elevation changes. Having arrived without food or drink, we skipped the picnic area at Willow Springs about half way through the drive. It's a fabulous setting though for outside dining. And climbers around the world come here to hoist themselves up and down the sheer rock surfaces on more than 2,000 rock climbing routes. Permits are required to climb.

Managed by the Bureau of Land Management the Red Rock National Conservation Area encompasses nearly 200,000 acres. You are reminded of the expansiveness from several points along the scenic route. A new Interpretive Center has just opened and is a good place to start your visit.


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