4.3 Miles

192 feet


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)!


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.

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