Brown’s Ranch Trailhead
Part of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve – a sustainable desert habitat in Scottsdale – Brown’s Ranch Trailhead leads to two trails, Brown Ranch Trail and the Jane Rau Trail. If you came to Scottsdale for the desert, the Preserve is the best way to experience it!
McDowell Sonoran Preserve
The McDowell Sonoran Preserve is the largest nature reserve/urban park in the United States, with over 30,500 acres and 180 miles of trails. The Preserve is a system of connected, multi-use trails and is accessed from multiple trailheads. Trails are for non-motorized use only, so leave that electric bike behind. You can bike, jog, hike or ride horseback along these scenic trails. The trails vary in length, difficulty and terrain so there is a trail to fit everyone. There are accessible trails and designated rock climbing areas too.
The trailhead has interpretive exhibits about the history of the Preserve; you can learn and enjoy the desert at the same time. These two trails offer amazing views of the Sonoran Desert and surrounding mountains. Get close to those towering saguaro cacti and other desert plants. Be on the lookout for desert wildlife too: desert tortoises, spikey horntoads, woodpeckers, roadrunners, snakes (including those usual desert dwellers, western diamondbacks), various lizards, mule deer and javelina.
Jane Rau Trail
The Jane Rau Trail is one of the Preserve’s accessible trails, with a roundtrip length of 0.4 miles and no appreciable elevation gain. This loop trail was named for Jane Rau, a local community activist known for her work in establishing the Preserve. Most of this trail is stabilized granite, with several sections made of metal grating and an average grade ranging from 4.8% to 11%.
Brown’s Ranch Trailhead
Brown’s Ranch Trailhead is a moderate trail loop of 3.1 miles, with an elevation gain of +/-100 feet. This trail winds through the old ranch area and is especially beautiful in the spring when the desert wildflowers are in bloom. Stop and enjoy the spectacular desert views from the trail’s many look-out spots – great for picture taking!
You will find the Brown Ranch trailhead entry at 30301 N. Alma School Parkway. Both trails are great for kids and dogs (leashed), and there are maps, restrooms and water available at the trailhead. The Preserve is basically open sunrise to sunset, but you may want to check the Preserve’s website for the exact times; access gates are opened and closed (locked) based on the time of year. Parking at trailheads is free. And don’t forget, it’s the desert, so bring lots of sunscreen and water, no matter the time of year.