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Thursday, February 5, 2015


McDowell Sonoran Preserve
Gooseneck Trail

It's fitting that this McDowell Sonoran Preserve connector route is named Gooseneck. That's because over its 7-mile length, it twists and bends in a continuous dance through the desert that dodges among massive granite outcroppings with majestic views of Four Peaks, Superstition Wilderness and the Verde River Valley. More than just a point-to-point journey, this route--which was opened in 2014-- runs from two major trailheads--Fraesfield in the north and Tom's Thumb to the south and is also part of the Maricopa Trail that spans adjacent McDowell Mountain Regional Park. Additionally, the trail ties in with the newly created Saguaro Nest (1.9 miles) and Redbird (1.1 miles) trails. Beginning the trek from the south involves hiking 0.3 mile on Marcus Landslide Trail and 0.2 mile on Rock Knob to the Gooseneck junction. Immediately upon stepping out on this playfully snarled route, a botanical treasure trove of desert plants fills the landscape. You'll walk among gorgeous specimens of wolfberry shrubs, yucca, desert hackberry bushes and glowing clusters of jumping cholla. In spring, blooming wildflowers like red maids, filaree, lupines and poppies sprout from the loose gravel soils. With big views, interesting geology and an understory of colorful blossoms, you'll be glad the trail sweeps out in lazy arcs that revel in the secret finds and secluded niches of this North Valley preserve.
LENGTH: 7 miles one-way
RATING: easy
ELEVATION: 2500' - 2813'
HOURS: sunrise to sunset daily
Parking is allowed ONLY at these Scottsdale trailheads:
FRAESFIELD: 13400 E. Rio Verde Dr.
TOM'S THUMB: 23015 N. 128th St.

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