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Phoenix Sonoran Preserve - North

This hike is rated INTERMEDIATE.

Starting at 0900 on Christmas Day.

Please note the new starting location at Apache Wash Trailhead.

The hike is not recommended for first-time hikers.

This beautiful hike is in the north area of the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve! This area is the newest addition to Phoenix's vast desert preserve system.

You’ll love the altitude in the North Phoenix / Desert Hills area and the softer trails too. Yes that’s right; not many rocks! What a nice treat for the feet.  Let's enjoy some mild elevation gain on Christmas Day, not once but three times!

For this hike we will traverse a small portion of the Ocotillo Trail and then head up to the Ridgeback Overlook. We’ll then continue on the Ridgeback Trail over to Sidewinder, and then proceed to Apache Vista.


DISTANCE: 5.9 miles roundtrip

ELEVATION GAIN: About 350 feet more than once

TRAIL STYLE: Loop, with three overlook spurs

DURATION: 2.5 hours +

DOGS: Yes, if leashed

FACILITIES: Restrooms and large parking lot

WEBSITE: Trail Map


DIRECTIONS: Head north on Cave Creek Road and continue north of Pinnacle Peak Road. The left turn for East Sonoran Desert Drive is between Jomax Rd. and Dynamite Blvd, so get in the left lane. Turn left at East Sonoran Desert Drive. Go west for 2½-3 miles. The park entrance will be on the right. The address is 1600 E. Sonoran Desert Dr.

If you are coming from the West, Dove Valley Road Exit #222 is now open on Freeway 17.  From there, it will be about 6 miles to the park, eventually turning into E. Sonoran Desert Drive.  The park entrance will be on your left. The address is 1600 E. Sonoran Desert Dr.


Contact me via Meetup if you have questions.

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  • Jim K.

    On this super-quiet, peaceful Christmas morning some tinsel, an angel, some mistletoe, a star, the menorah and a combination ornament / dreidel journeyed through various elevations of the pristine and green Phoenix desert with Simba. This was an excursion through mostly solitude.

    What a super hike! The special holiday silence was nice for a change and appreciated. Never ‘heard’ it quite so nice! We ended up with more than half “no-shows” and also GPS misdirections, but it was to our benefit. The scenery is really awesome here, but it has never looked better and sharper, clean as today!

    Thanks to the entire Team for assisting the lady that received the dog bite. Thank you to Cindy for being my bodyguard despite her own tumble towards the end… Thanks to Sabrina (and Hal) – (and Simba) for sweeping. And a GIANT thanks to Sabrina for the chewy delicious cookies! I’d eat them all at once, but I want stretch out the flavor!

    2 · December 25, 2013

  • Sabrina

    What a fun hike! Fun group, we could have not only decorated a tree with out angel, star and tinsel. But we would have celebrated by playing with a dreidel and lighting a menorah. Add in the mistletoe and we have a party!

    Simba had a great time as always. We look forward to Saturday and the extended hike. Thanks as always Jim.

    And everyone enjoy the rest of your Christmas, or Wednesday if you don't celebrate!

    2 · December 25, 2013

  • Earnestine

    Strolling along with fun people Christmas Day on a peaceful & beautiful hike.

    2 · December 25, 2013

  • Jim K.

    This hike will be a great way to start Christmas Day! And it will serve as a prelude to the longer hike on Saturday. Does anyone have questions about locating the trailhead? Do not rely on your GPS! Follow the written instructions above.

    See you Wednesday morning, on Christmas Day!

    December 23, 2013

    • Rene B.

      I look forward to doing this hike with you someday.

      December 25, 2013

    • Jim K.

      That would be nice!

      December 25, 2013

  • Rene B.

    Oops. I posted pics from this mornings North Mountain hike on this hike; but I'm having trouble removing them. Can you help out?

    December 25, 2013

    • Jim K.

      Hi Rene ~ they're not my photos so I can't do anything with them! When you get to a computer, you should be able to "MOVE" them to the correct album. Thanks!

      December 25, 2013

  • Lori M.

    Ho, ho, ho ... a hiking will go! See you at 9 a.m. ... NOT 8:30 this time!

    2 · December 24, 2013

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