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Monday, September 26, 2016


McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Scottsdale.
North Diablo Trail 
A sign at the entrance to the Diablo Trails in McDowell Sonoran Preserve warns of steep rock slabs, vertical drops, uneven terrain and protruding rocks. Count me in! This recently revealed "forbidden zone" was developed as a technical bike circuit replete with slick stone traverses, boulder hops and swooping bends divided into a maze of loops with varying levels of difficulty. Located north of Cholla Mountain, the trails wind among granite outcroppings and rolling foothills with big sky views of Tonto National Forest peaks.
Entrance to Diablo Trails
Although it's clear that this compact mosh pit caters to bikers who want to test their mettle, hikers need not stay in their lane. The circuit is open to foot traffic as well and makes for an endlessly customizable trip for hikers who enjoy exploring semi-uncharted land. There are numerous ways to get to the site, but the quickest begins at the Brown's Ranch Trailhead with a 2.8-mile trek on connecting paths. Here's how: hike 1 mile north on Brown's Ranch Road and turn right onto Maverick Trail. Continue 0.8 mile to Cholla Mountain Loop, turn left and hike 0.7 mile to Stagecoach Trail. Follow Stagecoach 0.3 mile to the Diablo Trails entrance. Beyond the gate, the trails are not marked with mileages. I hiked around using The Divide Trail (Maricopa Trail) to connect the North and South systems for 3.4 miles, but I did not do all the side loops. A rider I ran into on the trails told me that this maze has been known to bikers for awhile, but it first appeared on official preserve maps released for Fall 2016, thus exposing its existence to the rest of us.
South Diablo Trail

LENGTH: Variable, but 9 miles as described here.
RATING: easy-moderate for hikers, difficult for bikes
ELEVATION: 2710' - 2969'
South Diablo Trails
Brown's Ranch Trailhead:
30301 N. Alma School Road, 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 Road. Turn left and continue 1 mile to the trailhead. There are restrooms, water and maps at the trailhead. No fee.

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