Trail Access

gateway250 Access areas are designated points of entry into Scottsdale's Preserve. These areas will be where users access trails to experience Scottsdale's Preserve through hiking, horseback riding, biking, nature studies, bird watching, scenic viewing, picnicking, rock climbing and more. Access areas of differing size and level of amenities are located at strategic and appropriate points in but on the periphery of the Preserve for users' convenience. 

The Preserve Access Areas Report (pdf/1mb/11pp) outlines the plan for access areas in Scottsdale's Preserve. It explains what to expect as these planned access areas are created - the size and location of parking areas, and the types and level amenities to be provided at each type of access area.  The Access Area Design and Site Standards manual (pdf/3.7mb/61pp) provides specific information regarding the location, design- including materials and environmentally friendly construction methods, and planned amenities for each planned access area. The goal is to develop environmentally responsible public access areas that borrow from and blend into the natural desert landforms and landscape of each specific Preserve access location.

If you would like to take a tour of Scottsdale's Preserve, the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy offers free guided tours. For more information, please visit

Currently four access areas are open for public use:
  • Gateway Access Area is located at 18333 N. Thompson Peak Parkway (east side of Thompson Peak Pkwy, north of Bell Road).  This is the largest of the access areas, with a full compliment of amenities to accomodate users.

  • Tom's Thumb Access Area is located at 23015 N. 128th St.  This area lets you access the northern reaches of the McDowell Mountains and 5 miles of new multi-use trails, including the Marcus Landslide Interpretive Trail. 

  • Sunrise Access Area is located at 144th Street and Via Linda. There is an upper parking lot and a lower parking lot

  • Lost Dog Wash Access Area is the first major access area to be created. It is located north of Via Linda off of 124th Street. The access area contains a full compliment of amenities to accommodate users.

Photo of the Facility at Lost Dog Wash Access Area 
Lost Dog Wash Access Area

There are also additional parking areas outside but near the Preserve that through trails connect to the Preserve trail system:

A number of access areas are planned on State Trust Land the City has not yet acquired. Access to State Trust Land is restricted to individuals with permits. For an application for a State Land Recreation permit call (602) 542-4631.

It is important that these future access areas be planned and managed to prevent unsafe and unwanted trails from being created, disruption of neighborhoods and destruction of sensitive plants and wildlife habitats. Introducing elements such as gates, signs, maps and designated parking in strategic locations can play a vital role in protecting the Preserve's ecosystem while providing safe and sensible passive recreational opportunities for all ages and abilities.

Some areas due to their sensitive nature may be prohibited from public use. Please obey "NO TRESPASSING/AREA CLOSED" signs.