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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.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


Apache Junction
High Point Trail go to the summit of Silly Mountain 

Sandwiched between the US 60 freeway and the rough-cut mountains of the Superstition Wilderness, Silly Mountain Park straddles the worlds of hot pavement and rugged backcountry. A web of 9 trails meander along the the mountain's humps, slumps and points of interest including an old grave site and an abandoned mine. The park is the result of a restoration project funded by public and corporate donations and managed through a partnership between the City of Apache Junction and the Superstition Area Land Trust--a non-profit educational corporation created to protect and preserve Arizona State Trust Lands around the southern slopes of the Superstition Mountains. Up until 2008, Silly Mountain was being used as an off-road vehicle playground which took a heavy toll in the terrain. The decimation of native vegetation and deep trackway scars were becoming an eyesore and a public safety concern. Restoration of the site involved stabilizing trails for long term sustainability, re-establishing indigenous plants and restricting travel to non-motorized use. The park's most resent addition is a barrier-free, interpretive Botanical Walk that features 280 species of Sonoran Desert plants.
LENGTH: 3.5 miles of trails plus a barrier free Botanical Walk
RATING: easy to difficult
ELEVATION: 1550' - 2139'
From Phoenix, travel east on US60 and turn left onto Mountain View Road just past milepost 199. Go 0.3 miles on Mountain View, turn right onto 32nd Ave and continue 0.2 mile to Silly Mountain Road. Turn right and go 0.4 mile to the trailhead on the left.
Superstition Area Land Trust (SALT)