Greetings, my fellow hiker! You're really going to enjoy this week's hike on the Desert Park Trail.
I’m Brice, president of Vaucluse Gear, where we love to sweat less and explore more. This week we’re in Scottsdale, Arizona, where (as you know) it can get quite hot so I definitely want to stay cool. And dry. In fact, the goal really is sweating as little as possible.
We found a fantastic trail – that I'm going to share with you now – and maybe one day you can take it as well! Super easy, a lot of fun, and with a lot of different things to see. So let's dive right in.
I am in Scottsdale, and this hike is located in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. This is a large, permanently-protected desert habitat that includes an interconnected network of “non-motorized,” multi-use trails. That means you still have other hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders with access through multiple trailhead locations.
Hiking Review - Desert Park Trail and Gateway Loop Trail - Scottsdale, AZ
I started at Cooper Ridge Elementary School (where there's a parking lot). I wanted to see this specific part of Scottsdale first and then enter the Sonoran Preserve, so I started at the elementary school because there's a parking lot, and otherwise, there's not a lot of places to park because it's mostly residential and private property.
(I don't know if somebody is going to say hey, you can't park at the school, so please let me know! It looked like an ideal place to park on the map because the trail I picked pretty much starts there.)
Part one of my experience was the Desert Park Trail. As you're hiking, it's pretty cool because, on the right hand side, you have McDowell Sonoran Preserve and its hills, and to the left, you've got Silverleaf Country Club and its par-72 golf course, and some really impressive, multi-million dollar homes. So you've got impressive man-made architecture on the left with these houses, and on the right, the even more impressive (naturally) Sonoran Preserve.
In fact, according to Wikipedia, the Sonoran Preserve’s 30,500 contiguous acres makes it the largest urban park in the United States!
That's part one. You will find there's a steady incline for probably the first hour. You are climbing up, up, and up, so it's not flat and easy. I think a steady incline for almost an hour can be quite challenging.
Finally, you enter the Sonoran Preserve. Head to the Gateway Trail Loop (which I've hiked before, just not at this point). The Gateway Trail Loop is a big loop that can get you to many places. So I took that and walked between Horseshoe Ridge Peak and Drinkwater Peak. The peaks are 2400- to 3900 feet high, you’re nestled in between the two, kind of in a valley, so it’s very peaceful, very enjoyable.
From a distance, you can also actually see Phoenix. If you look to the left, you see the preserve, and to the right, more preserve because there's a massive mountain blocking you from the town and houses that you have just seen! You walk through there and return to the neighborhood in a super easy loop. You finish where you started.
Overall, the day’s weather and outdoor conditions were sunny as usual for Phoenix or Scottsdale. The temperature was around 55 degrees, so I wore a fleece, to begin with, and had additional layers. After about an hour, I’d take them off because I was getting quite warm.
The total distance was about six miles, the elevation was just under 700 feet, and my hiking time was 2.5 hours.
Backpack Airflow System - Sweat Less in Arizona Heat
Now, as I mentioned, I'm president of Vaucluse Gear, where we love to sweat less. This is the backpack that I took, and I also had a Cool-Dry Frame. This is a frame that separates your back and your pack. It’s super light, flexible, and very soft.
I know, you're thinking, what does this thing feel like on my back?
It feels great. Because, for one, it allows separation between you and your backpack. That way, air flows as your back produces heat, allowing heat to dissipate. Sweat is evaporating, and you're much more comfortable, and after a while, it’s as if you’ve always worn it this way. You’ll start thinking, hey, this is pretty comfortable because it's soft, flexible, and keeps my body cool.
I was wearing fleece and never got overly hot. Obviously, after an hour, I started warming up, and my back was dry when I took my fleece off. My shirt was dry, too, and I continued hiking for another hour and a half. Even after that, my back was dry, and I felt comfortable.
So if you're trying to find a better, more comfortable way of hiking, and if you either sweat a lot and want to reduce that or want to be more comfortable and a little cooler, please check out my Cool-Dry Backpack Frame. I think it will help you enjoy your hiking more.
The links to this week’s trail and information are below. Thank you so much, and see you on the trails!
I've got plenty of reviews on our website from people saying, Yes, this product definitely does work.
Thank you so much, and see you on the trails.
- Weather - Sunny and 55 to 62 F. (Full overview)
- Time on trail: 2h30
- Distance hiked was 6.04 miles.
- Elevation gain was 679 feet.
Strava Tracking: You can review the hike's stats on my Strava account by clicking here.
AllTrails Tracking: You can review the trail on my AllTrails account by clicking here.