McDowell Mtn Reserve - Wagner Loop Trails
August 18, 2004

After work I drove to Maricopa County's McDowell Mountain Reserve and hiked the Wagner Long Loop and Short Loop trails. These are hikes #18 and #17 respectively in Stewart Green's book. Total distance about 4.5 miles.
To reach the trailhead from Scottsdale, go east on Shea to Fountain Hills Blvd, then left several miles to the park entrance. Park entrance fee is $5. This is the hiker parking lot and trailhead which is located at the entrance to the campground.
The view to the southeast was beautiful...
...but the view to the north was not so promising. I was hiking north and west. The storm appeared to be moving south and east. The wind became progressively stronger, with gusts strong enough to move me. Would the storm pass by me?
McDowell Mtn Reserve has adequate signage. The trail is well maintained and mostly level. Follow the Wagner Trail signs to the Granite Trail signs. The Stoneman Wash Trail looks like fun: perhaps another day. My hat is pulled low so I don't lose it in the strong wind.
At about 1.5 miles the trail drops into a very wide wash. This part of the trail was very pretty. At this point I was grateful to get into a low area as there was lightning in the area.
I would have liked to spend more time exploring the wash area but the winds were getting stronger and the lightning getting more frequent.
Somebody's getting wet. I've been spared to this point.
Time to pull out the poncho. Never really expected to need a poncho in Phoenix in August, but I always carry one in my pack regardless of where I hike or how far I hike. Be prepared.
Nice rainbow to the northeast.
When the long loop rejoined the short loop, I hiked that part of the short trail I missed just so I could say I completed both trails as shown in Green's book.

For most of my hike I had an anxious excitement about the weather. For the last mile or so I was, at times, frightened. Much of the trail is flat open country, and for much of the hike I was the high point! I was glad to reach the car! Next stop: Taco Bell.

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Copyright © 2004 by Bill Qualls. Last updated August 18, 2004.