The Lost Dog Wash Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve, is a perfect hike to take with your family! With different lengths and level options, it’s a great experience!

When we travel to Arizona with the kids, we try to find new-to-us hiking trails that we can experience.  We love the landscape and the climate of the desert so much, so getting out on a hike is a great time for us. Don’t be afraid of bugs and snakes…if you go prepared and aware, it’s perfectly safe!

The McDowell Sonoran Preserve is part of the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy, and includes more than 30,000 continuous acres and over ~290 km (180 miles) of trails.  This preserve has 5 major trailheads that connect to make up the 180 miles of hiking trails, and you can start a hike at any of these trailheads.  You can take short hikes, some even less than a mile long, or you can take much longer hikes, hiking as long as you want.  What we liked about this area was that we were able to choose a hike we thought would suit us, and if we found it too hard along the way, or if we wanted to keep going, we had options to make it shorter or longer.  For our first visit we chose to hike the Lost Dog Wash Trail.

McDowell Sonoran Preserve Trails: Lost Dog Wash Trail

How the hikes work is, each trail is made up of segments divided between emergency markers, and each segment is labeled with the trail length, so you can plan your route length according to these segments.  On the day we visited we opted to do a 4.1 mile long hike, and it was great!  We went early in the morning, but it was HOT.  The kids grumbled a bit, but they finished the hike and were VERY proud of themselves!  And on this hike a gila monster and tarantula were spotted!  Amazing.

McDowell Sonoran Preserve Trails: Lost Dog Wash Trail

Lost Dog Wash Trailhead Hike Details

  • Rating:  Moderate to Difficult (the shorter the hike, the more moderate; the longer the hike, the more difficult)
  • Type:  The trail is a loop, with options to do smaller loops, or join additional trails
  • Length:  The loop we hiked was 4.1 miles long (6.6 km)
  • Activity:  Trail is for Hiking, Biking, and Horses

Things To Note

  • Address:  Lost Dog Wash Trailhead:  12601 N. 124th Street, Scottsdale, AZ
  • Hours:  Open from sunrise to sunset.
  • Fees:  There is NO entry fee required.
  • Washrooms:  There are washrooms available at the trailhead.  As well as water, a directory, shelter and seating.
  • Family Passport:  This is a fun activity for the family!  At the trailhead you can get a passport (one for each kid), which has a scavenger hunt that teaches about the flora and fauna in the area.  Once you complete a trail from each of the 5 trailheads, you will get a stamp in your passport.  When you finish all 5 trailheads (not all in one day!), then you will get a gift, like a bandana or a water bottle.  We will definitely try to visit all 5 trailheads over time as we visit again.

McDowell Sonoran Preserve Trails: Lost Dog Wash Trail

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