Hike | McDowell Gateway Loop Trail | Scottsdale, AZ

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Gateway Loop is an easy trail fit for all ages, sizes, and creatures! Dog and kid friendly, you get a decent workout while looping around one of Scottdale’s most well-known mountains, McDowell Mountain.

This trail is heavily trafficked and is regularly cleaned by the city. Gateway Loop Trail is accessible year round and is a great trail for beginner hikers.

The trail itself is an easy trek with some great views of the city! You will see multi-colored (blue, green, red, etc.) rocks along the way, too. As far as wildlife is concerned, this trail is too heavily trafficked to see any kind of wildlife other than your regular rabbit or lizard.

This is a great trail for visitors to Phoenix who have never hiked before, but want to get a good view of the metropolitan area.


  • Length: 4.5 miles
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 685FT
  • Kid Friendly: Yes
  • Dog-Friendly: Yes (leash on!)


Gateway Loop is located in the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy of off N. Thompson Peak Road in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Head for the bathroom area to start the hike. You’ll follow the clearly marked trail until you reach a fork in the trail. You will then take a left to make your way around the first curve of the loop. You’ll reach another fork in the road at the Windgate Pass Trail; here you’ll take a right and follow the loop around over the Gateway Saddle Point and continue until the trail meets with the Bell Trail junction. Keep right and continue to follow the Gateway Loop Trail to meet the Saguaro Trail junction. Turn left and then find your way back to your car!

The trail is relatively flat with a few “hilly” areas here and there as you circle around the loop. Nothing too challenging, which is why you’ll see a variety of age groups trekking along this trail at all hours of the day. Gateway Loop is often heavily trafficked throughout the week and on the weekends even more so! If you plan to visit this trail, you most definitely want to get there early to find a parking spot and be on your way.


Getting to the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy area is quite easy and can be reached with any car within the city.

The roads to the parking lot are well paved and there are many rows of parking for you to snag a spot before hitting the trail.



There’s not much gear you need for the Gateway Loop, but it would be a good idea to pack snacks and water for your time on the trail.

Wearing adequate shoes is a must as some areas have loose and sharp rocks. Hiking boots are suggested, but tennis shoes will also work.


Stay hydrated. Drink at least a half gallon of water before heading out on a hot day and always carry water with you as you trek along.

Stay on the trail. There are lots of beautiful views on this trail, but straying from the trail can harm yourself and the native plants & wildlife.

Pack out what you pack in. Bringing snacks and treats is all fun and games, but always remember to take any trash with you that you bring in!

Be listening for trail runners. Many people trail run along this loop so be on the lookout to move swiftly to the side as people rush by.

All dogs MUST be on a leash. This trail is heavily trafficked by both people and dogs. It’s important to keep your dog and others’ dogs safe.


This blog was thoughtfully written by Erin Maxon.  You can find her on Instagram @airmax14 and her four-legged pal @the_downwarddog.

* Please remember to hike at your own risk. To learn more please refer to our Hiking Disclaimer