4.3 Miles

192 feet

Easy

A+++ Views

136th St Express/Cow Poke Loop Hike Overview

The 136th St Express/Cow Poke Loop hike is such a great hike. The views are spectacular, the big saguaros are fun to look at, and it is a little flatter and easier than the Granite Mountain Loop if you don’t want to do that whole loop. 

Map & Elevation Profile

Total distance: 4.32 mi
Max elevation: 2772 ft
Min elevation: 2581 ft
Total time: 01:24:33

Map for the 136th St Express/Cow Poke Loop Hike

You won’t regret having this map. The signage here is good but there are a lot of trails.

mcdowell mountains green trails map get outdoors get happy

McDowell Mountains Greentrails map

You definitely won’t regret having this map for your McDowell Sonoran Preserve hikes (affiliate link)!

Parking

Put “Granite Mountain trailhead” into Google Maps and you will be taken to a huge parking lot right under some massive powerlines.

136th St Express/Cow Poke Loop Hike Notes

It was hot (of course) and we didn’t want to hike the entire Granite Mountain Loop, so we concocted this 4-mile loop out of 136th Street Express, the Cow Poke trail, and then heading back via to the parking lot via the Bootlegger trail. The BF was a little concerned that it would be so close to the road, but it’s a low traffic area so it wasn’t bad at all. Plus the views, boulders, and plants are awesome!

One of the best things about this area of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve is that there are so many options. Design a loop as short or as long as you are in the mood for. Don’t have a lot of time? No probs, just make a short loop. Want something with more mileage? No probs, just make a long loop. There really are endless possibilities here. 

Here is a list of all the great things about this area:

  1. Views, views, views. Seriously there are mountains everywhere!
  2. Fewer people. You mainly see mountain bikers here.
  3. Boulder piles to hike through.
  4. Really cool desert plants. For plant nerds like me, there are tons of yucca (you won’t see them when hiking from the Gateway Trailhead for example, like the Horseshoe trail), many varieties of cholla and really sweet saguaros. 
  5. A crested saguaro!

I’m sure I’m forgetting at least 20 other things. 

So, should you do this hike?

I think you should. You will feel more relaxed and accomplished after experiencing this area.

Other hikes close by

There are a lot of choices around here. Close by on N 128th street is worth checking out. If you want to start from the Fraesfield Trailhead check out the Whiskey Bottle Trail hike. Brown’s Mountain trailhead has great options. Plus you get to look at Brown’s Mountain which is a very scenic mountain.

Get more inspired to get outside:

Hike to the Lookout, McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Why hike to Tom’s Thumb with you can hike to the Lookout? The views are even better, the trail is fantasic and there are less people!

Dispersed Camping Fire Control Road (NF-64), Payson, AZ

The dispersed camping along Fire Control Road (NF-64) in Payson, AZ, is great! There are quiet sites with great views. Read more here!

Piestewa Vs Camelback? Which Should You Hike?

Piestewa vs Camelback? Not sure which one you should hike? Read this article to help you decide. Hint: they both have pros and cons!

Natural Tunnel Via Dirt Road Trail Hike, South Mountain Preserve

Hiking to the Natural Tunnel via the Dirt Road Trail starts out lame (you’re on a dirt road) but quickly turns into a sweet hike. Learn more!

Latigo Chuckwagon Loop Hike, McDowell Sonoran Preserve

The Latigo Chuckwagon Loop Hike is the best hike starting from the Brown’s Mountain trailhead. It is not as busy and has great views!

Sunrise Trail Hike, McDowell Sonoran Preserve

The Sunrise Trail Hike has a lot to offer: some elevation but not too much, SUPERB views, and not too far outside the city! Read more here.

Forest Road 2076 Hike, Tonto National Forest

The Forest Road 2076 hike starts out pretty lame but then opens up to huge views as you hike out of the wash. Plus you most likely won’t see another soul!

136th St Express Trail Hike, McDowell Sonoran Preserve

The 136th St Express Trail Hike is easy, high on the solitude scale and has mountain views in all directions. Great for those more chill days!

136th St Express/Cow Poke Loop Hike, McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Create a scenic 4 mile loop with the 136th St Express/Cow Poke Loop Hike. It’s beautiful over here and there are fewer people too!

15 Practical Ways to Motivate Yourself to get Outside

It happens to everyone! Sometimes our motivation to get out and enjoy nature is low. That’s ok, here are 15 practical ways to motivate yourself to get outside!