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Saturday, March 20, 2010

WINDGATE PASS

WINDGATE PASS McDowell Sonoran Preserve Although this trail climbs more than 1,300 feet, the route meanders uphill in graceful, zig-zagging style—making the ascent less steep than it looks. Beginning in the lower foothills of Scottsdale’s McDowell Mountains, the path provides a tour of classic Sonoran desert terrain. Abundant saguaro, barrel, cholla and hedgehog cactuses flourish among ironwood and paloverde trees. In spring, the slopes and washes are ablaze in wildflower color. Continually changing points of interest such as contorted rock formations and boulder strewn gullies serve as previews to the high point of the hike---Windgate Pass, a scenic saddle with far-reaching views. There are many ways to get to Windgate Pass—just pick up a map at the Gateway Trailhead and customize a hike to fit your needs. Our route is described below. THE HIKE: For a quick out-and-back trip to the Pass-- begin at the Gateway Trailhead, cross the bridge and follow the signs to the Gateway Loop trail. Hang a left at the junction and follow Gateway Loop 1.2 miles to Windgate Pass trail. From here, it’s 2.2 miles to the Pass. We returned the way we came. LENGTH: 7.5 miles roundtrip RATING: modertate-difficult ELEVATION: 1,671-3,031 feet BEST SEASONS: October - April GETTING THERE: From Scottsdale, take Bell Road east to Thompson Peak Parkway. Go north (left) and continue to the Gateway Trailhead on the right. INFORMATION: http://www.mcdowellsonoran.org/ or http://www.scottsdaleaz.gov/preserve.asp MORE PHOTOS: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=18460&id=1795269672