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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Slinky desert trail with a quad-burning bite

Phoenix Sonoran Preserve, North
Sidewinder Trail

The newest additions to the trails of this Phoenix recreation area are an eclectic collection of wide, shared-use tracks, slim footpaths and desert mountain vista points wandering among an archipelago of low-slung peaks.  Located in a separate stretch of Sonoran desert north of the preserve's established southern maze of trails around Union Peak, the new routes add 21.4 miles of local hiking options. The paths are easy-to-moderate, interconnected and all are marked with excellent signage that includes location, elevation, mileage, GPS coordinates and QR codes for downloading maps.  At just under 7 miles, aptly named Sidewinder Trail is the longest route in the system. Its serpentine course--cut on the edge of rocky slopes--serves as a backbone connector for 6 other trails. Although the grades are not too tough, this trail’s snake in the grass is its constant ups-and-downs, which makes the hike more strenuous that it might appear.

High point of the trail

LENGTH:  6.98 miles one way
RATING:  moderately difficult
ELEVATION: 1737' - 2000'
HOURS: 6 a.m. to sunset or 7 p.m. whichever comes first

From Phoenix, travel north on I17 to Carefree Hwy (AZ74).  Turn right (east) and continue to the stoplight at 7th Ave.  Park in the dirt lot on the right (south) side of the road.  No facilities at this trailhead.  The Apache Wash trailhead on Sonoran Desert Blvd,  which opened on Nov. 9, 2013, is the southern access point.

INFO: City of Phoenix Parks & Recreation

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