Morning hikes in the Sonoran Desert are energizing all year long, but they can be even more stimulating in the cooler seasons. If you want to really jump-start your day, consider trekking through the Sunrise Trailhead to Sunrise Peak. This incredible summit offers dazzling views in all directions, and it’s worth every muscle-engaging step. With a high point of 3,069 feet, the mountain crest is a lovely escape from the hectic world below.
Where Should You Begin?
Sunrise Peak is part of Northeast Scottsdale’s trail system in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Start your journey at Sunrise Trail East from the Sunrise Trailhead in Scottsdale. You’ll travel 4 miles round trip over varying inclines and an approximate 1,100-foot elevation change. The gradual but steep incline can be as easy or as challenging as you want, depending on your speed. Do you want relaxed and fun, or are you looking for a great workout?
The trail entrance is smooth but curvy as it leads to the lower canyon. The initial view is already quite breathtaking, so be sure to stop and drink it in. You’ll steadily climb above the canyon’s floor until you reach the first actual viewpoint at the 1.2-mile mark. Beyond this overlook, the climb becomes more rugged and rocky. If you can push through Mother Nature’s StairMaster, you’ll reach the summit after just under one mile.
What Sights Will You See?
Like any mountain hike, the scenery is beautiful. However, this particular hiking adventure offers a bigger feast for the eyes with its 360-degree vista. As you climb, you’ll pass the legendary saguaro and spiny cholla cactuses as well as some remarkably vibrant desert flora. Look for the iconic, green-trunked palo verde trees and the very interesting shrub-like grasses marking your path. You may also catch glimpses of scampering lizards and majestic birds soaring overhead.
At the cloud-kissing peak, the views are simply outrageous. Sunrise is a particularly good time to observe the impressive granite mountain formations because the ridges are clear and sharp. Take a moment to observe the sweeping panorama of the Superstition Wilderness, Camelback Mountain and Fountain Hills. The sense of peace is indescribable. Sunrise Peak is the perfect place to get motivated and to rejuvenate your body and spirit.
This moderately challenging trail will take you deep into the desert where you’ll be hugged by nature from all sides, but you won’t have to spend an entire day reaching your destination. Once you’ve hit the peak, you can retrace your steps down the mountain, or you can take the descending West Summit Spur trail for new views of the surrounding mountain ranges. No matter how you choose to end your adventure, you’ll leave Sunrise Peak ready to face the day.
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