Hiking and mountain biking are at the top of our top 5 outdoor things to do! Make Fountain Hills your outdoor recreation choice. Outdoor art that celebrates the Western and human spirit, award-winning community theater, world-class golf and more are all yours and all just minutes from 32,000 unbroken acres of park and preserve land.
In Fountain Hills, panoramic views of the surrounding mountains beckon you to the adjacent McDowell Mountain Regional Park and McDowell Mountain Preserve and their generous network of hiking, biking and equestrian trails. Thanks to Fountain Hills’ location, your enjoyment of these trails and the desert can start in minutes. This base camp lets you spend more time being on the trails than getting to the trails.
McDowell Mountain Regional Park
McDowell Mountain Regional Park has over 50 miles of hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding trails through beautiful desert scenery. This 21,099-acre regional park is located four miles north of Fountain Hills. For mountain bikers, the competitive track has three loop tracks; a long loop – 8.2 miles, a sport loop – 3.0 miles, and a technical loop – 2.9 miles. Skills are tested while negotiating steep inclines, swooping turns, technical descents and rugged terrain at race speed. A pump track has been added to the competitive track trailhead. This twisting combination of table tops, rollers and banked turns is a great way to improve weight shifting and bike handling skills.
Wildlife sightings are common; look for deer, javelina, coyotes and a multitude of bird species around the three ponds in the park. A couple of trails are less than a mile long; several are one to four miles; and the popular Pemberton Trail is 15.3 miles. Elevations rise from 1,600 feet to 3,000 feet at the base of the McDowell Mountains. The entire park faces the Four Peaks, Weaver’s Needle and Superstition Mountains and provides awesome views. Whether you’re going for a short stroll or looking for a challenge, you’ll enjoy the trails and the vistas.
For campers, McDowell Mountain Park has 76 individual sites for tent or RV camping. Each one accommodates up to a 45-foot RV. The developed sites have water and electrical hook-ups, picnic tables, barbecue fire rings and a dump station. Restrooms offer flush toilets and showers. A separate area in the park has been set aside for tent campers who don’t need hookups and are seeking a more remote feel to their campsite.
Check out the listings below of all upcoming McDowell Mountain Regional Park Programs!
For more information, visit www.maricopa.gov/parks/mcdowell.
Fountain Hills McDowell Mountain Preserve
Thanks to the foresight of local residents, the tops of the McDowell Mountains are preserved for wildlife and future generations to enjoy. Through the work of Sonoran Conservancy volunteers, there are now more than five miles of trails. There are three to five scheduled guided hikes each month. Call 480.837.8290 to schedule a hike or check the conservancy website at www.scfh.org for hike details.
- The Sonoran Trail is 2.6 miles and has an elevation change of 2,170 feet. Hikers can enjoy panoramic views of the lower Verde Valley and the Mazatzal Mountains, and the moderate-rated trail winds through several deep mountain face canyons.
- The Promenade Trail is .93 miles and generally level except at the south end. This trail is also known as the “old Jeep road.” The trail is wide enough for hikers to walk side by side.
- Western Loop Trail is 1.2 miles in length with an elevation change of approximately 600 feet. The trail is rated moderate to difficult with a number of switchbacks. The trail crests at over 3,000 feet, giving the hiker expansive views including downtown Phoenix. The trail is not recommended for bikes.
- The Overlook Trail, Wayne Tall Loop and Easy Access Trail are accessed off the Promenade Trail. The Overlook Trail is about .5 miles with a small elevation gain of 167+ feet. The Wayne Tall Loop is a short side trail off the Overlook Trail and features a bench and interpretive plaque with information about local birds seen in the preserve. The Easy Access Trail is level and only .12 miles on a wide smooth surface..
Fountain Park – Lake Overlook Trail
The Lake Overlook Trail is an easy-moderate 1.5 mile hike that is accessible from the heart of downtown Fountain Hills and offers some of the outstanding views of the Town and the neighboring Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation and surrounding mountains. The south trailhead is located at Panorama Blvd. between Vista Del Lago and Diamante Drive. The north trail head is located at Panorama Blvd. just east of Saguaro Blvd.
Tonto National Forest
Located only minutes away from Fountain Hills and Fort McDowell is Tonto National Forest. With two of Arizona’s largest and most scenic rivers, six lakes, and landscapes ranging from desert to pine forests and high mountain peaks, the forest offers a wide range of recreation opportunities: swimming, boating, hiking, camping, rafting, horseback riding and bird watching, to name a few.
Tonto is the fifth-largest National Forest in the United States. With nearly three million acres, there is room enough to roam. Within the forest’s boundaries are eight wilderness areas.
Saguaro Lake, twenty minutes from Fountain Hills, is one of the loveliest and most popular recreation sites in Tonto National Forest. The golden cliffs and rugged shoreline of Saguaro Lake make a spectacular setting for outdoor activities.
One wonderfully relaxing way to enjoy the lake is a narrated tour aboard the Desert Belle Paddlewheel Riverboat. Bald eagles and desert mountain sheep are often spotted in secluded regions.
At the Lakeshore Restaurant, diners have splendid views from indoors or outdoors. Boat rentals can be arranged at Precision Marine, which also carries bait, tackle and marine supplies.
Boat ramps, fishing pavilions, swimming, picnic tables and restroom facilities are available at two locations. At Butcher Jones Beach, the Shoreline Trail links panoramic vantage points. Horseback riders also have spectacular views of the lake. Horseback riding, kayak and tube rentals are offered at Saguaro Lake Ranch, below the dam.
For fishermen, the lake is stocked with plenty of walleye, largemouth and yellow bass, rainbow and brown trout, bluegills, channel catfish and crappie.