Over the many years we have lived, studied and taught about Arizona, the cities of the Valley of the Sun have done a tremendous jobs in preserving the amazing mountains and mountain foothills found here. Each year more and more land in put into preservation and new trailheads are open to the general public. Here is our story about one of the newest trailheads...
For those of us who live in the far North Valley the nearby Phoenix Sonoran Preserve continues to offer new opportunities to explore and enjoy the rugged beauty of our local Sonoran Desert. And if you enjoy hiking, mountain biking and/or horseback riding, the newly opened Desert Vista Trailhead just might become your favorite local hangout.
The Desert Vista Trailhead is located just to the northeast of the Fireside at Norterra Community Center. From here outdoor lovers can access 10 trails leading into the interior of this lush desert preserve and covering over 14 miles. A new restroom facility and fresh water station are also found at this trailhead.
All 10 trails are wide and easy to follow but difficulty varies usually based on elevation change. The Cactus Wren Trail is considered easy to moderate and has an elevation change of only 234 feet. While the Dixie Mountain Summit Trail is a steep, 346 foot ascent to the mountain top with panoramic views of Camelback Mountain, Shaw Butte and Piestewa Peak.
The 3.82 mile Dixie Mountain Loop Trail was the first trail built in the Sonoran Preserve opening in 2010. It is rated “moderate” as the many small climbs throughout the trail results in an elevation change of 1,322 feet.
Many desert washes cut through the desert landscape as the trails skirt along the hillsides. Stunning views of undisturbed desert landscapes change at every turn and twist of the trails.
When completed the Sonoran Preserve will encompass some 20,000 acres which will make it larger than both the Phoenix Mountain Preserve and South Mountain Park. Since this new preserve is still not surrounded by housing developments, these trails are relatively uncrowded and hikers can often find themselves alone on the trail with only nature as a companion.
The main protected land that is encompassed by the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve is bordered by the Carefree Highway to the north, North Valley Parkway to the west, Cave Creek Road to the east and the Central Arizona Project Canal to the south. The Desert Vista Trailhead is just the newest facility to open within the preserve with more trailhead and parks coming in the near future.
So, if you are looking to quickly escape back into undisturbed nature, get out and discover for yourself the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve and the new Desert Vista Trailhead. You will surely enjoy this nearby desert experience - just remember your sun screen, water and hat!