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Hot Town Hikes - Lost Dog Wash in the McDowell-Sonoran Preserve

Hiking McDowell Sonoran Preserve
An unbeatable sunset makes the run easier.
Each edition of Hot Town Hikes will highlight one of the great trails in the city that is a convenient location and distance to get in a quick workout or nature walk along your commute. 

In this edition we'll learn about the Lost Dog Wash Trailhead in the McDowell-Sonoran Preserve off Shea Blvd. in North Scottsdale!  Try a premium Gaia GPS subscription to help enjoy this trail and more, at a discount!

I'm ashamed to admit that I only discovered this fantastic patch of trails a few months ago after years of wishing I had somewhere to hike or trail run along my commute from Scottsdale to Mesa.  Initially, it seemed quite out of the way, but the reality is that shooting up the 87 through Fountain Hills to the trailhead only added about 15-20 minutes to my drive home.  Definitely worth it for some time exercising in nature, with plenty of routes to choose from.

As indicated, getting here is easy.  The Lost Dog Wash Trailhead is off of 124th St and Shea in Scottsdale.  There's a sizable parking area of which you'll have free reign because it's rarely busy in the evening.  The trickiest logistics are the gate hours:  you are expected to have left the park before made clear by the very stern message "if the gate is closed, you're trespassing" on the inside of the gate.  And despite hours being posted as sunrise to sunset, I've seen it closed well before sunset.

It's ALL about sunset here.
The trail design makes customizing your hike/run easy.  Don't have much time/energy?  No problem, just take Lost Dog Trail a quarter mile, turn right to take a short connector to Anasazi Spur, then travel about a half mile back to the trail.  Have a couple hours to kill?  You can easily get in 5-6 miles making a loop of the outer trails with a spur out to Taliesin Overlook.  My go-to was a 2.75-3.1 mile loop (depending on whether I got lost...) out of Lost Dog Trail to Ringtail Trail to the parking lot; or Ringtail to Anasazi Spur to the parking lot.  
The terrain can make for a challenging trail run; tripping on or getting your foot jabbed by an outcropped rock are constant possibilities.  It's not as bad when hiking, but it can become tedious to stay vigilant over foot placement for a couple hours.  

It's definitely getting hot so you'll want to exercise caution while you exercise your body.  One huge perk of this trail system is that being on the periphery of the city, it's not as affected by the heat-island effect.  Most evenings I was here in March/April it was 5-10 degrees cooler than in the middle of the city.  

Exercise caution and intelligence when hiking as the weather heats up.  Know your limits, carry plenty of water, and know where you're going.  Grab a map at the trailhead to keep track of where you are or sign up for Gaia GPS (discounted through GTFO links) to have detailed map access for this and other hiking trips.  Keep in mind that it is illegal to hike with a dog on a City of Phoenix trail when the temperature is over 100 degrees.  Even below that, it's important to know how to keep your dog safe on hot weather hikes.


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