Phoenix Sonoran Preserve

Phoenix Sonoran Preserve

Written by Mare Czinar Category: Citizen Hiker (hiking blog) Issue: November 2017
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Phoenix Sonoran Preserve

Shannon Griffith on the trailShannon Griffith leads a very busy life. The active Cave Creek mom juggles her dual careers as a middle school English teacher and part-time real estate agent along with her adviser position with the Veterans Heritage Project. “VHP gives me the opportunity to give back to the community by pairing students with veteran [mentors]… I feel blessed to be a part of their program.”

Even with a packed schedule, Griffith still finds time to hit the trails in the nearby Phoenix Sonoran Preserve. “I love that the trails in Phoenix Sonoran Preserve allow for all different levels of hikers. If you’re looking for something easier to do with kiddos, you can find it. But if you’re looking to experience more of a climb and some added mileage, you can find that, too.”

She particularly likes mountain biking the trails. “My favorite trail is a 5-and-a-half-mile loop from Apache Wash Trailhead: Sidewinder Trail, to Apache Vista Overlook, to Ridgeback Trail, to Ridgeback Overlook, to Ocotillo Trail. This [trail] provides just the right amount of up and down to really make me [bike] hard and fast. But I also can’t resist stopping to take pictures of the views, and the plant and animal life.”

Cooler temperatures in the Valley herald the return of winter visitors and the reemergence of long-dormant local hikers. Griffith recommends bringing plenty of water, food, a phone, sun protection and proper gear when trekking in the preserve. A smartphone comes in handy in the preserve because trail markers have QR codes that can be scanned for instant access to maps and information – a plus for those unfamiliar with the area.


LENGTH: 5.5 miles
RATING: Moderate
ELEVATION: 1720’ - 2002’
HOURS: 5 a.m. to sunset or 7 p.m., whichever comes first
FACILITIES: Restrooms, shaded seating, horse staging area, map kiosk (no water)
GETTING THERE: From Loop 101 in north Phoenix, take Cave Creek Road exit 28 and go 4.5 miles north to Sonoran Desert Drive. Turn left (west) and continue 3.5 miles to the trailhead on the right.

NEXT MONTH: The Tucson founder of the Trails Inspires blog connects communities with the outdoors.