Today, I will share a fantastic hike you can do in northeast Phoenix, Arizona (even when it's 100º F).
Hi, I'm Brice, president of Vaucluse, where we love to sweat less and explore more. I'm going to take you back to the McDowell Sonoran Reserve, where, if you saw my previous video, it was getting quite hot, and a 400-foot incline in elevation was making me sweat a lot, and I felt I was at risk of overheating.
My body was working at a very strenuous level, and even though I wanted to go higher, I decided it was getting a little too hot. One point about Phoenix? When hiking in a desert, you must pay attention to your body. If it starts telling you that it's getting a little too hot, even if you don’t think you’ve done a lot, you’ve got to back off and listen to those warning signs. Elsewhere, I’d typically do a couple of hours hiking at 1,000-ft in elevation, but you can't do that out here.
Scottsdale, Arizona - Gateway Loop Trail
While I am here at McDowell Sonoran Preserve, I'm going to share some stats with you and some links, so if you ever find yourself around here, you can definitely repeat this same hike for yourself: McDowell Sonoran Preserve is a large, permanently protected sustainable desert habitat in Scottsdale, Arizona. The preserve encompasses some 30,500 acres and is the largest urban park in the United States.
I started and ended at the Gateway Trailhead. I completed it in a figure eight. You can probably do it in just a loop. I did figure eight because I wanted to go up where the incline was as gradual as possible and then go down where it was a little bit steeper (even then, the going down wasn't that steep). I just wanted to make sure that I would be out for about an hour.
The day’s temperature when I started, was 73º F, and by the time I ended, it was 78º. This doesn't sound hot, but when you're talking about Phoenix, Arizona in the desert, it doesn't really get that cool at night, at least not during the summer. So even in the 70s, it still gets pretty warm.
I started on the Saguaro Trail, which heads directly east. It's the most popular trail because it's an easy in-and-out from the Gateway Trailhead. Mostly everybody has to take this from the parking lot, but then I went south as opposed to going north (if you head north, there's more options but also a higher elevation, so you start climbing pretty quickly). Instead, I went south to the Gateway Trail Loop and Levee Trail. This side of the park, as you can see by this topography map, is much flatter. So it's comfortable. Of course, it was getting warmer, but as I went down, I could feel the cool breeze, and my body was cooling down quickly. Going up, I was getting a little warm but, given it was an hour-long hike, overall, it was nice.
Backpack Airflow System - Sweat Less in Arizona Heat
I did about 3.5 miles, so a good, decent hike. The elevation gain was 344,’ and I would say that was split up in two different sections, one with a little bit of incline, then flat, and then a little more of incline, and then a steady decline the rest of the way. So really comfortable moving time, just a little over an hour, at a pretty good pace of about 2.0 miles an hour. So… that was the hike!
Now one of the biggest benefits of this hike was my Cool-Dry Backpack Frame, which I have right here. I had a 15- to 18-liter Osprey and attached the Cool-Dry Frame onto the backpack. It's important to understand that it's not just how hot it is outside (that’s going to make you sweat) it’s whether you can sweat it out. If it's hot, you're going to sweat, it's impossible not to. Yes, some people have a condition (anhydrosis) where they don't sweat much, but most people will sweat. You have to sweat. The key fact is that only sweat that evaporates has any ability to cool the body.
So if you’re sweating and wearing a backpack just stuck there, soaking into your body, you're actually limiting your body's ability to stay cool.
When you're out hiking and wearing a backpack soaking up sweat, you're not allowing your body to do what it wants to, which is to cool down. It's sweating, and it wants that sweat to evaporate. But if your body is not going to get cooler, you must allow sweat to leave somewhere.
That’s where the Cool-Dry Frame comes in! You will see in this video that, when I put this backpack on, there is a space between me and the backpack (you can use any size backpack that you want). Obviously, I’m wearing a small one. I was only out for about an hour and didn’t need much stuff.
We designed the Vaucluse Cool-Dry Frame to fit any size backpack, from 15-liters or smaller, up to 65-liters. When you want to stay cooler while hiking and want that sweat to evaporate, especially under a big backpack, we highly recommend checking out our Cool-Dry Frame at the link below.
See you on the trails!
- Weather - Sunny, temperatures starting in the low 70s F and climbing to high 70s F.
- Time on trail: 1h13
- Distance around 3.4 miles.
- Elevation gain was 344 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.