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Monday, March 24, 2014

UPPER RANCH-BROWN'S MOUNTAIN LOOP


Wildflower high season at McDowell Sonoran Preserve
Scottsdale

Brown's Mountain Trail

Standing on the summit of Brown's Mountain, a heart-pumping realization of just how close the desert preserve lapping at its base came to being washed away in a tidal surge of golf properties strikes the senses.   The suburban sprawl tsunami was averted through the persistence and hard work of the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy, hundreds of volunteers and the City of Scottsdale, leaving us with an unspoiled parcel of Sonoran Desert to enjoy in perpetuity.  So, you better darn well get out there and hike! If the spectacular scenery and easy-to-navigate trails are not enough  motivation for you, the months of March and April bring wildflower high season. Even in drier years like 2013-14, strawberry hedgehog cactus, chia, lupines, poppies, buckwheat, chicory, scorpion weed, globemallow and rock gilia add splashes of vivid color to the subtle earth tones of the desert floor.
Mexican gold poppies

The familiar flat-topped silhouette of Brown's Mountain anchors the western end of the parcel. One option to get to the high point is to hike Brown's Ranch Road to Brown's Mountain Trail and take the summit spur trail to the top.
Although this path is narrow, rocky and steep, the climb's ROI is a birds-eye view of the entire trail system and surrounding mountain ranges.  Descend and continue on Brown's Mountain Trail to Upper Ranch Trail and follow its flower-fringed course back to the trailhead.

Brown's Mountain Summit Spur
LENGTH: 4.3 miles
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION:  2710' - 3253'
HOURS: sunrise to sunset daily

GETTING THERE:
Brown's Ranch Trailhead: 30301 N. Alma School Pkwy, Scottsdale.
From Loop 101 in Scottsdale, take the Pima/Princess exit 36. Go 6.5 miles north on Pima to Dynamite, turn right and continue 2.7 miles to Alma School.  Turn left and go 1 mile to the trailhead. There’s restrooms, water and maps at the trailhead.  No fees.
Brown's Mountain
INFO & MAPS: McDowell Sonoran Conservancy
City of Scottsdale:

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