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Sonoran Desert Loop

 4.2 (52)
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Map Key

13.4 Miles 21.5 Kilometers



1,112' 339 m


-1,110' -338 m



Avg Grade (2°)


Max Grade (9°)

2,082' 635 m


1,700' 518 m


Shared By Brandon Rolfes


All Clear 46 days ago
Dry - Fast but with a few hikers that might slow your pace. The climbs are nice and doable. Good trail. History

Getting forecast...

This is a great trail to prep for non-technical riding, and it has it all: flats, climbs, turns.

Brandon Rolfes

Dogs Leashed

Features -none-


This is not a technical trail, but it really has a nice terrain balance. You'll get a lot of climbing, rollers, weaving around cactus, tight turns, downhills, and level ground. Great views throughout. Recommend going clockwise. The climbs are a challenge but the reward is nice, long, flowing downhills.

Need to Know

This is a multi use trail, so there are hikers, bikers, horses, and dog walkers. If you plan to rip on it, find a time when most people will not be able to use it, like mid-morning on a weekday.

This loop can start/finish from 2 different trailheads. Southern side at Apache Wash TH at 1600 E. Sonoran Desert Dr. or the northern side at Desert Hills TH at 705 W. Carefree Hwy. Please note there is no water available at this trailhead. Please bring adequate supplies for your planned activity.

Phone: 602-495-6939
All parking lot hours 6 a.m. to sunset or 7 p.m. (whichever comes first). The gates lock to go IN at 7 p.m. They lock to go OUT at 11 p.m.


Much of the Sonoran Preserve is located in the transition zone to the Arizona Upland subdivision of the Sonoran Desert, which has higher amounts of rainfall per year (up to 12.5 inches per year). This increases both the lushness and diversity of plant life. South Mountain, Camelback Mountain and Squaw Peak, on the other hand, are located in the Lower Colorado River Valley, the largest and most arid subdivision of the Sonoran Desert. With only 7.5 inches of rainfall a year, vegetation in these areas is sparser and less varied.

This ride itself isn't overly technical, making this an enjoyable experience for riders of any skill level. This is certainly a leg and lung burner however, as the large amount of climbing will leave you huffing and puffing at times. Enjoy the descents though, as you'll be zipping past cacti, weaving in and out of tight turns, and hurtling over sharp descents and level ground.

History & Background

This area is the newest addition to Phoenix's vast desert preserve system. Purchased with voter approved funds and state grants, the new preserve has added a whole new element to the city's expansive desert preserves -- and we're still adding land. This was built in Q4 of 2013.


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Your Check-Ins


Feb 17, 2019
Eric Faggioli
Feb 17, 2019
Shayne Arthur
Jan 12, 2019
Fernando Barajas
Jan 5, 2019
Nick Bergquist
Dec 17, 2018
Maven 1959
Added Apache Wash Loop. 19.6mi — 3h 00m
Dec 4, 2018
Terry Harris
Great area for riding! Trails are fun and challenging, typical Blue. If you want to increase endurance and climbing skills, this is the place. 12mi — 1h 50m
Nov 13, 2018
Mike Berta
Nov 11, 2018 T

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Trail Ratings

  4.2 from 52 votes


  4.2 from 52 votes
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in Arizona


1,233 Views Last Month
41,009 Since Feb 10, 2016
Intermediate Intermediate

Seung Kim
Phoenix, AZ
Seung Kim   Phoenix, AZ
This is one of my favorites that's near my house. They built a huge parking lot on Carefree Hwy and 7th Ave due to so many people coming here. Start here clockwise and jump on Sidewinder Trail all the way and use Ocotillo Trail on the way back. I tried every loop combo, but this is the best. About 13miles. Nice 1.5hr ride. The Apache Wash Loop is very boring, totally flat but nice for beginners. Beatiful single track with some hikers here and there. I love this trail for not being rocky. I hate rocky trails. This is just hard packed dirt most of the way. Jul 21, 2016
great ride. will work your lungs on some of the climbs. the hardest climbs are not all that long though. it took me a little under 2 hours to complete but not pushing too hard. i'm almost 60 so younger riders i'm sure would find it less hard than me. went on a tuesday to avoid the crowds. very few people on the trail during the week. was able to stay on the bike for entire ride but for a few loss of traction spots. definately no hike a bike though. Nov 7, 2017
As with most trail heads in AZ, many car break ins at the trail head on Carefree Highway...use caution. Jan 2, 2019

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