May marked five years since we have moved from Houston, TX to Phoenix AZ. How time flies! My brother is turning 18 years old, and I am 11 ½. This past weekend, we celebrated Edmond’s birthday a little early. Mom says at his age, he deserves a birthday month. I’m down with that since it meant special treats for me, too. We also hiked a route we haven’t done in years: The Ocotillo trail at 7th Avenue.
The parking lot is the same for the shorter loop mom and I do often. It’s off the Carefree Highway and 7th Avenue (not Street): https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/arizona/sidewinder-and-ocotillo-trail-loop Parking is free, and it has human restrooms. Dogs must be on leash, and please pick up after your pooch. Normally we take a left just past the restrooms onto the Sidewinder trail, but today, we went right onto the Ocotillo trail. The loop is longer – about 5.2 miles – and moderate. Note: With the rising temperatures, bring plenty of water for you and your pup. We got up really early and enjoyed cooler temps, but we won’t have many of those days left until the fall. Be advised that you should never hike your dog when it is 100 or higher.
The trail starts by going around the parking lot and begins to follow Carefree Highway. You’ll have a little road noise, but it won’t last. This trail is very well marked and does have some rocky areas. Hey, it is the desert, after all! You will continue on the “O” or Ocotillo Trail for about 4.5 miles.
Even though we are very familiar with the area, I was surprised how different things looked going the opposite direction. Hey, I could see our housing development from here! Cool. Anyway, the trail curves around and heads down a valley. As always, keep an eye out for snakes. We didn’t see any, and I’m always grateful when we don’t. The busier the trail, the less likely you’ll have an encounter.
We recommend that you allow at least three hours for this loop. It is popular with mountain bikers, so you will find yourself stepping aside often to let them pass. As you continue on, you keep taking lefts at any trail sign that says “O.” Don’t be tricked by a few false trails along the way. They are not marked and, therefore, are NOT part of the Ocotillo trail. You will eventually come down to Dove Valley and be right along side the paved bike/walking path. Keep on the dirt path, though.
Then, you begin your climb back up. I must say, it felt really long. Mom and I hadn’t had breakfast, and we wished we had. But we pressed on during this steeper section. If you were to connect on to the “S” or Sidewinder trail, you would head over toward Apache Wash, and that would be a 13-mile loop!
You’ll see the cell tower as you make your way back toward 7th Avenue. It is here (about 4.5 miles into it) that you will take your first right onto a little connector trail (not marked) that takes you to the paved tower road. Don’t worry if you miss it because if you stay on the “O” trail the entire time, it will take you back the way you came. If you take the connector trail to the tower road, it is a smidge shorter. If you’ve been to 7th Avenue before, you’ll know that the road is all downhill back to the parking lot.
I was happy to find some shade for a few minutes before we made our way back to the car. Mom and I certainly earned our breakfast! The Ocotillo trail is very scenic and offers a little more challenging hike than the short loop. Options are always good, and you can pick what works best for you. Just say hydrated!
My mom, Lorraine Bossé-Smith is kind enough to help me share my Great Adventures, big and small. My mom is a motivational speaker, corporate trainer, business consultant, executive coach, behavioral-wellness expert, and author of nine published books. More importantly, she’s the best doggy mom ever!
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Get outside! You never know what you’ll discover, and our paths just might cross. Happy tails!