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Vaquero Trail to Jane Rau Trail

This hike is rated EASY.

Hike starts at 0530. Gate opens at 0509.

Sunrise is at 0537 so let's have fun doing our introductions and get rolling ASAP. 

One trail we haven't traversed yet is the Vaquero Trail.  We will head there from the TH and then follow 118th Street Trail to Latigo Trail, finishing our hike by doing a small 0.4-mile loop on the Jan Rau Trail near the TH.  This is truly an easy, beginner-type hike with very little elevation gain.


This loop hike is in the new Brown’s Ranch Area of Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve. You will be amazed at the spectacular desert views. Saguaros, living and dead, are abundant due to the higher elevation! This is a chance for you to notice unusual desert plants and possibly more wildlife. Maybe we will see a desert tortoise! We have already witnessed several strange things during our Cone Mountain Hikes!

The trails are new, well-groomed, and fairly soft. There are some areas of deep sand & dirt that will make you feel like you are trudging at a beach. You will notice breath-taking scenery on every turn of the trails!

This hike will be cross-posted on Phoenix (2-Hour) Beginner Hikers and Trail Mix. We travel at a beginner’s pace.

Bring plenty of water and PLEASE wear a hat or head-covering. We tend to lose the wind this time of year, especially during the mornings so sweat will be abundant. Also consider bringing a bandana, a towel, or other wrap-around cooling cloths and energy snacks. Be sure to nourish yourself during this hike! We will take plenty of rest and water breaks, usually at major trail marker intersections (or in shade).

The City of Scottsdale already has the new maps stocked at the TH, but feel free to print them out in advance from the link below.

DISTANCE:  4.5 miles

ELEVATION GAIN:  < 150 feet


DURATION:  2.5 hours

DOGS: Yes, if leashed

FACILITIES: Restrooms and water at the TH; dog fountain also

WEBSITE: Trail Map

DIRECTIONS: The trailhead address is: 30301 North Alma School Parkway, Scottsdale, Arizona. To get there, take Scottsdale Road or Pima Road north to Dynamite Blvd. Head east on Dynamite. At Alma School Road turn left, and head north. The Google map link will show you where to head north.

(Dynamite changes to Rio Verde Drive at this intersection, so don't get confused.)

Another option is going east on E. Happy Valley Road to N. Alma School Road and then head north.

If you are coming from Fountain Hills, just take Rio Verde Drive.

** The TH is approximately one mile north of Dynamite Blvd. **

You will observe signs that say “No Outlet” and “Dead End”… just keep going! Parking for passenger vehicles is on the left.

Contact me via Meetup if you have questions.


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  • Jim K.

    This was one of those unexpected hikes where everyone had a great time and there were voices and loads of laughter! High energy! This hike took my breath away, and I’m the one that planned it! We entered five or six distinct, diverse dimensions… and we even saw a large graceful deer trot through the desert! Whow!! The saguaros were abundant and diverse as well; we even saw one that appeared to be a puppet on a stick!

    Danay brought a DIFFERENT Lori along! I hope that the many guests enjoyed our Group! It was terrific to meet all the new people mingling with our regular hikers.

    Thank you to Stacey for picking up bodyguard duty for two-tenths of a mile! Thanks, Beverly, for being my bodyguard today and for sweeping after the adorable, little bridge! And true gratitude to Sabrina, Sanka & Simba for being the extraordinary Sweeps for this large Group today! We only had 4 pure no-shows and 4 that overslept or bombed out.

    1 · May 3, 2014

  • BevV

    Fun trail, fun peeps, awesome hike leader! Had a great time traversing this new route and seeing Cone, Brown's, Cholla, and Granite Mountains from a different perspective. Jane Rau Trail was particularly exciting and *diverse* as the winding & gently rolling trail was dotted with remarkable rock formations, unusually-shaped saguaros, and an adorable, little bridge (Sanka would disagree).
    Thank you, Jim for another super hike!
    Thank you, Sabrina, Simba, and Sanka for being our able and awesome sweeps!

    2 · May 3, 2014

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