The Gateway Loop in the McDowell Mountains in Scottsdale, Arizona is a perfect trail for hikers of all skill levels. This moderate 4.4 mile loop trail gradually inclines up towards the Gateway Saddle and then calmly declines hikers back around to the trailhead. It’s a perfect loop to do with kids, dogs or for any beginner hiker. And for you more hardcore hikers, this loop connects with other hiking trails in the area, so you can customize a longer and more challenging hike as you see fit.
Once at the beginning of the loop, you can choice the direction you want to begin. For this trail write up, I decided to start by going to the right in a counter clockwise direction or in other words to the Southeast side of the trail.
This trail is found at the McDowell Preserve, which is a beautiful area. There are a lot maps and other information along with rangers happy to assist you in any way they can. At first you will cross over the iron bridge and then walk through a nature trail that is set up in the area.
In the beginning of this trail, there is a slight incline as it is directing you towards the East. Sections of the ground along the path can be pretty rocky and a little unstable to walk on but for the most part, the route is a clear dirt path. Seeing as how this is a popular trial, the trail is relatively wide and allows hikers to easily bypass each other along the hike.
As you continue along there will be sections where the incline increases and portions where it levels off and becomes flat. Upon the inclines, the views will continue to amaze you. This mountain range seems unique compared to the other neighboring mountains. Here, on the McDowell Mountains the brownish of the dry desert fades away and instead is lit up by a bright green hue from the landscape. You are entranced by green rolling mountain peaks and some of the largest saguaro cactuses that I have seen in the area. The further back you go along this trail the more the mountain opens up to you and exposes deeper views of the mountain.
Upon approaching the saddle, the trail will become a little steeper. Enough to get your heart pumping harder but nothing that is too bad. Once at the top breathe in the air and take in that 360-degree view of this lush green desert with the bright blue sky above.
Hiking down the saddle, will now be a breeze. You’ve already completed the hardest part of the hike, so enjoy the hike down. Shortly, after passing the saddle, you will come across an intersection where Gateway Loop meets with another trail. There is a trail sign at this junction with the numerous trail names and distance. To remain on Gateway Loop you will follow the signs along to the left and continue your journey down.