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Sunday, November 20, 2011


Ocotillo on Ringtail Trail
McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Scottsdale
Lost Dog Wash Trail
Thompson Peak from Taliesin Overlook
Now, here's a trail after my own heart.  Although the eponymous canine didn't have such luck---it's nearly impossible for hikers to get lost on this trail. That's because this desert path bumping up against the 'burbs of North Scottsdale is lovingly maintained and outfitted with directional signage at every critical point.  Not exactly the best trail choice for solitude or a “wilderness feel”, this popular path's benefits are its ease-of-tread, proximity to town, beautiful views and nice trailhead facilities. Also, for those living in less than fit bodies due to Arizona summer hibernation, this trail makes for an effortless segue into the winter hiking season. 
Sandwiched between a sea of terracotta tile roofs and the foothills below the peaks of the McDowell Mountains, Lost Dog Wash is kind of a peanut-butter-and-jelly hike---easy to make and everybody loves it. For comparison, the Tom's Thumb hike—one of the tougher trails in the preserve-- is a Tofurkey Rubin hike---more exotic and not for everyone.
Lost Dog Wash
Given that I only had a couple of hours to hike this week, Lost Dog Wash was a natural choice. However, to add interest, I made a loop hike using 3 short trails. The Lost Dog trail is extremely popular and is usually crowded with hikers, runners, dog walkers and mountain bikers.  This loop option (details below) briefly escapes the spokes and spandex via the Old Jeep Trail.  The preserve also boasts a team of trail stewards—highly trained and knowledgeable outdoor enthusiasts who volunteer their time to educate the public about this precious swath of desert.  I hiked with one of them today for about a mile and learned quite a bit from him before we hiked off on divergent paths.  The stewards also lead public hikes and there’s one coming up this Thanksgiving morning called “More Pie Please”.  To join this free, easy, 3-mile hike, meet at 7:45 a.m. at the Lost Dog Trailhead (see below) and preemptively work off the calories for your extra slab of pecan pie (or Tofurkey Rubin).
Begin on Lost Dog Wash Trail (LD) and hike 0.5 mile to the Ringtail Trail (RT) junction.  Go right and follow RT 0.5 mile to the LD Overlook at emergency marker RT5.  Visit the overlook, then return to the trail and go another 0.2 mile to the junction with Old Jeep Trail (JT).  Go left (north) on JT and hike 1.4 miles to where the trail reconnects with LD.  Continue straight on LD.  In another 0.5 mile, you'll come to the turn off for Taliesin Overlook.  Although LD trail continues another 0.4 mile past the overlook, I made this the turnaround point for the loop.  Hike back to JT junction, but this time, go right (south) and follow LD 1.6 miles back to the trailhead.
LENGTH: 5.3 mile loop
RATING: easy
ELEVATION:  1,755' – 2,092'
FACILITIES: restrooms, water, shade ramadas, horse hitching posts 
HOURS: sunrise to sunset (it's illegal to be in the preserve outside these hours)
DOGS: leashed dogs allowed.  Handlers must immediately pick up poo and pack it out.
From the Loop 101 in Scottsdale, take exit 41 for Shea Blvd., turn east (right) and go 4.2 miles to 124th Street. Turn left (north) on 124th Street and go 1 mile to where the road dead-ends at the trailhead.
INFO: City of Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve
McDowell Sonoran Conservancy:


1 comment:

Unknown said...

I had a MAGICAL hike last night along Lost Dog. WOW!