Sunrise Peak Trail
June 21, 2019
If you came to Scottsdale for the desert and you love to hike and climb, head to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Sunrise Peak Trail– also known as Sunrise Trail – is part of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, a sustainable desert habitat in Scottsdale. Sunrise Peak is a great way to get that panoramic view of the surrounding area you’ve been looking for!
McDowell Sonoran Preserve
The largest nature reserve/urban park in the country, McDowell Sonoran Preserve has over 30,500 acres and 180 miles of trails. The Preserve is a system of interconnected, multi-use trails that are accessed from multiple trailheads. You can bike, jog, hike or ride horseback along any of these scenic trails. The trails in the Sunrise Peak Trail in Scottsdale vary in length, difficulty and terrain and there are accessible trails and designated rock climbing areas too.
Trails wind through towering saguaro cacti, teddy bear cacti and other desert plants. Be on the lookout for desert wildlife too: desert tortoises, spikey horntoads, woodpeckers, roadrunners, snakes and various iguanas and lizards (including the skittish but colorful chuckwalla).
Sunrise Peak Trail
Sunrise Trailhead starts in a residential area, but you’ll soon forgot about that as you are quickly surrounded by the desert and head upward toward the peak. This trail is rated as moderate and is great exercise. Sunrise Peak Trail is an out-and-back hike with several steep sections and is one of the Preserve’s few trails that reaches to the top of a peak.
Amazing 360° views of the surrounding peaks of the McDowell Mountain range and surrounding area is worth the effort to get to the top! Time your stop at the peak for the top of the hour and you’ll be rewarded with a view of the Fountain Hills Fountain. There is a marked viewpoint at 1.2 miles into the hike – great for those Instagram posts – then the climbing really starts as you head for the top.
You’ll find the trailhead at 12101 N. 145th Way. The Preserve where you find Sunrise Peak Trail in Scottsdale is open from sunrise to sunset, but you can check the Preserve’s website for the exact times. Access gates are opened and closed (locked) based on the time of year. And don’t forget, it’s the desert, so bring lots of sunscreen and water, no matter the time of year. Dogs are welcome as long as they stay leashed. And wear good hiking shoes, as the dirt and gravel paths can get slippery. There is a water fountain at the base of the trail but no restrooms, so plan accordingly.