Besides cooler temperatures, I know it is “that time of year” because mom has started listening to Christmas music. Hey, if it makes her happy! I also know because we can hike more local places without having to get up before the sun. Neither of us are morning people, but we get out really early during the summer, so I am always grateful when we can hit the trail a little later.
One of our go-to places is the Desert Hills Trailhead right off the Carefree Highway East and 7th Avenue. You can’t miss it because it has a huge cell tower on the top of the hill! Several years ago, they redid the parking lots, so there are plenty of free spaces. It also has human restrooms, and dogs are most welcome on leash.
We always park right by the restrooms, and as you pass them, you will see two options: Sidewinder to the left and Ocotillo to the right. If you want a five-mile round trip, go to the right. Otherwise, a nice, short loop is to the left.
Recently some metal fencing was installed to keep mountain bikers out of the protected Sonoran Desert. Please abide by the law to stay only on the dedicated paths and no smoking anywhere.
You will follow that fencing to the lower, horse lot (where humans get on their horses to ride the trail) and follow the dirt path around to the right. In the distance, you will see a paved road…the one that takes you up the hill to the cell tower.
Mom and I always go up the steep hill first to get it out of the way. And if the temperatures are going to rise, the pavement can get warm later on. I tell you; it will wake you up and get your heart pumping! So, take a right on that paved road.
There are a few places where bushes provide some shade should you need it and be sure to drink some water. Take a moment to turn around and soak up the views. This is where you realize we are higher up than Phoenix proper. You’ll see Cave Creek and Scottsdale, too.
In the spring, the road is lined with yellow flowers. This time of year, you just might see the hot-air balloons floating around. Regardless, it is a very quiet, easy hike of about 1.5 miles.
Right before you get to the cell tower, you will see a dirt trail to your left. If you miss it and get to the very top of the hill, turn around and take your first right. It’s easier to see coming down than going up.
This little connector trail continues you on the official Sidewinder Trail, which you will go to the right. Here, you will see the Sonoran Desert Parkway and all the way into downtown Phoenix. Lately, we have seen the line of pollution down there and are thankful we don’t have poor air quality up here…yet.
At this point, you are walking away from the Apache Wash trail system. The Sidewinder trail takes you around the cell tower. Keep following it until it starts to go downhill. Pay attention to the real trail and follow the “S” sign. When you come to an intersection, there is a sign for the closed area that goes up another hill, but you continue down the “S” trail back to the iron fencing.
At the horse parking lot area, you turn left back to the restrooms and parking lot. It’s a complete loop. Should you want to go in reverse and go down the big hill/paved road, be careful not to miss the connector trail at the big Saguaro on your left. If you look up, you’ll be pretty close to the cell tower.
If you miss that connector trail, you are in a for a long haul! Mom and I did that when we first moved to the area. We learned to take pictures of the map so we could look it up on mom’s phone, and we pay attention to where we are and where we want to go.
Stay safe out there and enjoy our great weather!
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, executive recruiter, business consultant, coach, fitness 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!