Directions: Gateway Loop Trail is 16 miles from Fountain Hills, AZ. Head west on Shea Blvd then turn right on to Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd. Head west until 100th St then turn right onto Thompson Peak Pkwy continue straight then turn right onto E. Horseshoe Canyon Dr. then take last right onto N 107th St and arrive at Gateway Loop Trail parking area.
About the Hike: This hike is popular with local hikers in the area. No worries though as there is a large parking area so usually you'll be able to find a place to park.
The trail is located in the McDowell Sonoran Mountain Preserve. The trail is a 4.2 mile loop with an elevation gain of 715 feet. You'll briefly start out on a single track trail arriving at a sign-post showing the different hikes available within the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. I chose to do the Gateway Loop by going left towards the Gateway Saddle.
The trail is smooth starting out then in 1/8 mile you begin a slight ascend upward.
When I reached the top of the incline,
I was greeted with most beautiful view of a saguaro rim skeleton framed beautifully by two living saguaros. The desert is an excellent teacher teaching us to look deeper into the plant species that make the McDowell Sonoran Preserve it's home. If you look carefully you can see Tom Thumb off in the distance.
About 1/2 mile into the hiking it will be time to step up your game and begin the incline up the rocky stairs to the next beautiful overlook. From the overlook you'll hike through rolling hills arriving at the half-way point to begin your descent back down. This is the perfect place to stop for a break and soak in the beauty.
After your rested and recharged begin your descent back down and in April you'll be rewarded with beautiful saguaro blooms.
To fully enjoy the hike you'll want to plan 1.5 - 2.5 hours for your outing. This way you can stop and enjoy all the beauty. Happy Hiking!