Sunday, May 28, 2017

#4 Phoenix Sonoran Preserve

Summary:  This is the City of Phoenix’s newest preservation effort to protect the pristine Sonoran Desert wilderness within the City’s boundary.  The 21,500 acres of undisturbed desert mountains, washes and plains can be easily accessed over 34 miles of well maintained trails by hikers, mountain bikes, horseback riders and nature lovers from three trailheads.

Why You Should Go:  If you love the Sonoran Desert this preserve can become your favorite outdoor playground.  The natural setting is ideal for those who wish to exercise in the outdoors and also offers limitless opportunities for photographers and birders.  The preserve has been described by one hiker as the “Sonoran Desert Heaven!”   

When To Go:  Late October - late May are the best months to visit.  Extreme heat of the summer months can make anytime but an early morning outing potentially dangerous.

Be Safe:  Good shoes, sun screen, a wide-brimmed hat and a signaling device are always a must when visiting any desert area all months of the year.  Be sure to take an adequate supply of water and tell someone where you are going before beginning your outing into the preserve or any desert area. 
    Dogs are welcome in the preserve but must always remain on a leash.  Be sure to clean up and carry out any waste from your four-footed friend. 

History:  The citizens of Phoenix have had a long history of preserving their urban mountains for the enjoyment and recreational by all citizens.  As early as 1920 when the City covered only 5.1 square miles City leaders saw the benefit of acquiring mountain lands for picnicking, horseback riding and hiking.
    By 1925 City efforts resulted in the acquisition by Presidential decree of 13,000 acres of mountain land south of the downtown area.  The City paid $17,000 for the land that is known today as South Mountain Park.  Today South Mountain Park encompasses some 16,500 acres and is the largest municipal park in the United States.
     By 1959 the City had grown to 187 square miles and civic leaders once again began acquiring mountain lands for preservation.  In 1964 the land known as Papago Park was purchased for $3,529 and became home to both the Phoenix Zoo and Desert Botanical Gardens.
    In the late 1960s Senator Barry Goldwater led the fight to purchase 350 acres of land to save the summit of Camelback Mountain.  Over 350,000 hikers each year now follow the Camelback Summit Trail to the mountain’s summit to enjoy the view.
    In January 1972 the City had grown to 248 square miles and the City Phoenix Council established the Phoenix Mountain Preserve to protect more of the natural mountain environments and landscapes from further development.  Today the 7,500 acre Phoenix Mountain Preserve protects such mountains as Piestewa Peak, Shaw Butte, North Mountain and the Dreamy Draw Recreational Area.
    For almost 100 years the citizens and elected officials of Phoenix have had the foresight of preserving the urban mountain areas of this region of the Sonoran Desert.  The Phoenix Sonoran Preserve is a continuation of that long, held vision.
Cost: free

Hours:  Check website for trailhead hours 

Trail Map:


Phone:  602-262-6011

Location: Desert Hills Trailhead - 705 W. Carefree Hwy; Apache Wash Trailhead - 1600 E. Sonoran Desert Drive;  Desert Vista Trailhead - 1900 W. Desert Vista Trail 

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