Caption: Great Horned Owl trail as seen on March 7, 2013 offered an impressive display of Mexican Poppies
Sonoran Preserve Trail Map
It is important to remember that the Phoenix mountain preserves are open, undeveloped desert areas. Please use care when heading out as hikers routinely encounter rocky terrain, rattlesnakes and other potential hazards native to the Sonoran Desert. Check out safety tips for a full list of ways to enjoy your outing.
The symbols to the left of each trail name represent difficulty ratings. Click on any icon to see full descriptions of the rating categories.
The Bobcat Trail provides an out and back hike of about 2 miles or serves as a connection to the Dixie Mountain Loop and the rest of the Sonoran Preserve trails system beyond. The trail begins at the eastern end of Sonoran Desert Drive, there is no designated parking available yet, only walk in access. The trail crosses two large washes, meanders along gently rolling hills before ending at the 2.25 mile post of the Dixie Mountain Loop.
Distance: 1.01 miles
Elevation Change: 135 feet
Cactus Wren Trail
Access to the beginning of this trail is from the Desert Vista Trailhead via Hawk’s Nest Trail, Desert Tortoise Trail and then Valle Vista Trail (a total of 1.77 miles to the beginning). This trail spurs off of the Valle Vista Trail and serves to create a larger, outer loop for the Great Horned Owl Trail.
Distance: 1.41 miles
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Elevation Change: 234 feet
Desert Tortoise Trail
This trail begins .25 miles from the Desert Vista Trailhead via Hawk’s Nest Trail. The trail can be used as the southern leg of a 2.3 mile loop by heading west to the Valle Vista Trail, turning north on Valle Vista Trail then heading east on the Dixie Mountain Loop back to the end of Hawk’s Nest Trail which returns to the trailhead.
Distance: 1.1 miles
Elevation Change: 341 feet
Dixie Mountain Loop
This trail was the first new trail built, 2010, in the Sonoran Preserve. It is accessible from the Desert Vista Trailhead. Look for the Teddy Bear Cholla forest between mile posts 2.6 and 2.75. With significant elevation change, it's rated at
Distance: 3.82 miles
Elevation Change: 1,322 feet (accumulated through small climbs and descents throughout the trail).
Dixie Summit Trail
Dixie Summit Trail is a steep summit trail that provides a view from 2,203 feet that provides panoramic views of all the peaks of the Phoenix preserve system including Camelback Mountain, North Mountain, Shaw Butte and Piestewa Peak among others.
Distance: .22 miles
Elevation Change: 346 feet ascent
Great Horned Owl Trail
This Loop Trail is accessible from the Desert Vista Trailhead. It crests a saddle of the Union Hills where it provides access to Union Summit Trail, connects with the eastern end of the Cactus Wren Trail and then loops back around the southern edge of the preserve and rejoins itself after 3.1 miles.
Distance: 3.1 miles
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Elevation Change: 1,200 feet
Union Peak Trail
The trail is reached at the .5 mile point of the Great Horned Owl Trail. It switches back up the peak to reach the summit of Union Peak at an elevation of 2,200 feet.
Distance: .45 miles
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Western Vista Trail
Western Vista Trail is a steep summit trail that provides a view from 2,026 feet that allows visibility to Deem Hills Recreation Area to the west across the I-17. The trail is quite steep.
Distance: .34 miles
Elevation Change: 291 feet
Valle Verde Trail
The trail spurs off from the Dixie Mountain Loop stretching south toward the Desert Tortoise, Cactus Wren and Great Horned Owl Trails.
Distance: 1.2 miles
Elevation Change: 286 feet