Trails Plan

Working in cooperation with user groups, the Conceptual Trails Plan for the Preserve was created to guide the establishment of a multi-use trail system for the Preserve.  The over-riding goal was to provide opportunity for appropriate public access, use and enjoyment of the Preserve, while ensuring environmentally sensitive habitat and archaeological and other historical sites are safeguarded.  Many portions of the Preserve will not have public access for these reasons.  Every opportunity was made to utilize existing routes so that no new impact on the environment was necessary.  In the existing heavy recreation use area north of Dynamite Boulevard on State Trust Land, it is planned to reduce the existing over 100 miles of trails by over two-thirds.  This change will occur over time as the City takes ownership of the land. 

Preserve trails open for public use are shown on Trail Maps (pdf/7mb/4pp). To aid users, a series of directional signs have been installed at trail intersections and other strategic locations. Users unfamiliar with the trail they plan on using should secure a trail map prior to embarking on their outing.

For information on guided tours of Scottsdale's Preserve, visit the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy's website at

Safety Information and Tips

Please remember the Preserve is not a park. Once away from established access areas trails can be rugged and steep and assistance is far away. Weather conditions in the desert can be harsh and change rapidly Please go prepared by following these safety steps:

  • Use a trail map- know the trail and specific rules and regulations for the area you plan on visiting
  • Carry an adequate amount of water
  • Wear appropriate clothing
  • Use sun lotion
  • If you plan on venturing into the interior of the Preserve, tell someone where you are going and when you plan on returning. Emergency Markers have been installed on sign posts along Preserve trails. Take note of the unique letter/number combinations on each marker as you pass. Reference the nearest marker in the event of an emergency to assist emergency personnel in identifying your location.

Stay clear of desert washes when rain threatens. Remember that flash floods can occur in usually dry washes even if it is not raining in your immediate vicinity.

During lightning storms seek shelter immediately. Do not seek shelter under trees. The safest place is your car or at home.

Trail Etiquette

Are you a courteous trail user?  The universal rule of trail courtesy is for all trail users to yield the right-of-way to horses, and for bicycle riders to yield to all other types of users.

When approaching a person on horseback, speak in a soft voice to alert the horse and rider of your presence.  Users of Scottsdale trails are reminded that all users are on the trail for the same enjoy the outdoors and the beauty of the Sonoran desert.

Did you know that you could be fined up to $250 for driving a motorized vehicle on a non-paved trail in the City of Scottsdale?  Scottsdale Ordinance 17-62 prohibits the use of motorized vehicles, including ATVs and motorcycles, on Scottsdale's trails and Preserve lands.

By obeying this law you will help eliminate conflicts with other trail users such as equestrians, and help reduce negative impacts on adjacent property owners. Know the rules, obey all signs, and please act responsibly!