Hike the Gateway Loop

Arizona Gateway Trailhead Scottsdale

Added by Jeremy Meek

Well maintained trail with amazing views of the McDowell Mountains and the expansive Phoenix Metropolitan Area below. A quick in-town hiking escape!

The Gateway Trailhead is one access point into the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy in Scottsdale and is my favorite “Gateway” into the treasure trove of great trails and vistas in the McDowell Mountains. The Gateway Trailhead provides great accessibility for a quick hike or trail run at the end of the workday. 

The Gateway Loop Trail is 4.5 miles long and has 650 feet of elevation gain, which makes for a great moderate hike. The Conservancy’s trailheads and all trails within its boundaries are open from sunrise to sunset. Plan accordingly for getting your vehicle in and out of the trailhead parking area (there are 320 parking spaces plus 12 parking spaces for equestrian trailers). I have OCD tendencies and typically complete the loop trail in the clockwise direction, but depending on timing for the hike, sometimes I switch it up to maximize sunrise/sunset views or to minimize the sun being directly in my eyes.

Remember that pedestrians and cyclists both yield to horses and cyclists yield to pedestrians!

Some other options on longer trail alternatives sprouting from the Gateway Loop are available here.

Pack List

You can get by with minimal gear on this hike, assuming you are just doing the loop and none of the longer trails the sprout from it. 

  • Sturdy trail running shoes or hiking boots will do fine 
  • Bring plenty of water, particularly in the summer months! 
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More



Fitness, Hiking, Mountain Biking, Photography, Yoga

Skill Level:



Year Round

Trail Type:



4.5 Miles

Elev. Gain:

650 Feet



Easy Parking

Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

3 months ago

Best at night!

Very nice loop with great views of the valley. Downside is that the traffic can be very heavy! I enjoy doing this at night where you can appreciate the solitude and city lights!

3 months ago

Added by Jeremy Meek

Construction and sustainability guru by day. Adventurer, recreational photographer, and blogger by night and weekend. Arizona lover and native Phoenician.

More Adventures Nearby

Hike the Abineau-Bear Jaw Loop

Arizona / Abineau-Bear Jaw loop

This trail is slightly more hidden on the northern slope of the San Francisco Peaks, but well worth the drive just outside of Flagstaff.

Kevin Kaminski
41 Saves

Camp At Waheap Campground

Arizona / Wahweap RV Campground

This modern campground is just steps from the beach and centrally located on the Arizona / Utah border -- perfect for exploring both sides of the Glen Canyon National Recreational Area.

Kelly Park
5 Saves

Hike to Ribbon Falls in Grand Canyon NP

Arizona / North Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon NP

Although this hike can feasibly done in a day, it is highly recommended that you spend more than one day in this area and visit the falls as a side trip on a larger trip.

Jake Young
52 Saves