The several mountain ranges that surround our town of Fountain Hills provide not only a beautiful backdrop for our community but numerous hikes for novice and advanced hikers alike. Incredible views and natural desert terrain make for gorgeous hikes year round. Here are a few of my local favorites.
Sunrise Peak: The trail head for this hike is easily accessible from 128th St. and has a good size parking lot. It’s a well maintained trail that allows dogs (always a plus is my book). The trail can be quite popular on the weekends but never feels overly crowded. There are a number of switchbacks and it does get quite steep in areas. Round trip the trail is 5.5 miles, has an elevation gain of 1,282 feet, and averages most people 2-3 hours. This hike offers some amazing views of Fountain Hills and since it is a longer hike you should get a great view of the fountain at some point. From the top you will also have views stretching out over the valley clear to Camelback Mountain. The desert is especially beautiful in the spring wildflower season, but even year-round, Saguaro, Ocotillo and the usual suspects abound this area.
Pemberton Loop: McDowell Mountain Regional Park offers over 40 miles of hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding so choosing a favorite trail is a hard task. I would say one of my favorite and most frequented trails in the park is the Pemberton Loop. It’s a 15.3 mile loop. I know what you’re thinking, “that’s a long hike!” It’s a great workout because of the distance but I would rate it as moderately strenuous as far as difficulty. For a few less miles, opt for the Tonto Tank Trail and Pemberton loop, which will total 9 miles for the combined loop. The McDowell Mountain Regional Park is a great place to enjoy unobstructed desert beauty.
Dixie Mine: Although Dixie Mine trail is included in the McDowell Mountain Regional Park it is accessed from Golden Eagle Blvd at the entrance to the Eagle’s Nest community. This trail traverses the beautiful Sonoran Desert for 2.5 miles (one way) to the abandoned Dixie Mine shaft. The trail is fairly easy, with an open, level terrain.
Make sure to always bring lots of water, wear sunscreen and be on the lookout for desert critters. Enjoy!