Pathfinders are at trailheads to help visitors enjoy the Preserve.

Sunrise on the Preserve is alway a beautiful time to plan your visit.

Plan Your Visit

Explore a living treasure you will remember for a lifetime. Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve, including the beautiful McDowell Mountains, currently encompasses more than 30,500 contiguous acres with over 180 miles of trails. Trailhead gates are open from sunrise to sunset and there is no charge for parking or access.

Are you new to Scottsdale’s Preserve?  We’re here to help!


Plan to go hiking in Scottsdale? You will find McDowell Sonoran Conservancy Pathfinders at Brown's Ranch Trailhead, Gateway Trailhead, Lost Dog Wash Trailhead, Sunrise Trailhead and Tom’s Thumb Trailhead on the following schedules. 

  • Pathfinders are at the trailheads on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7:00 until 9:00 and on Saturday and Sunday from 7:00 until 11:00.

Pathfiners are there to assist you to get the most enjoyment out of your visit.

Passport to the Preserve

Want to take your family hiking in Scottsdale?  Let the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy enhance your day of fun.  On Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday mornings from October through April, your family can collect stamps on the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy Passport to the Preserve.  Visit five different trailheads --- Brown's Ranch, Gateway, Tom’s Thumb, Sunrise and Lost Dog --- and get your passport stamped by a volunteer steward at each trailhead.  When you’ve collected all five stamps, those stamps earn you a free Preserve bandana.

Trailside Naturalists

Volunteer experts answer questions and share items that allow Preserve visitors to touch, hear, and even taste things that will enhance their Preserve experience. Check our site to find the schedules for Brown's Ranch Trailhead and Gateway Trailhead Trailside Naturalists.  

Paws in the Preserve

Dogs are welcome in the Preserve, but if you bring your dog, it is your responsibility to follow the rules.  Dogs must be on a hand held leash that is no longer than six feet at all times.  Waste must be picked up immediately and either disposed of in a trash container or carried with you until you reach a trash container.  The owner or custodian of a dog is responsible for the acts and conduct of the dog at all times when the dog is in the Preserve.  Don't forget to consider the temperature for your dog's safety.  Dogs cannot deal with heat as well as people. Sadly every year we have situations where dogs die in the Preserve.  The typical recommendation is if it is over 90 degrees at ANYTIME during your hike, it's too hot for a dog.