4.7 Miles

707 feet


A+ Views

Gateway Loop Hike Overview

I’m obsessed with the McDowells! We live 10 minutes from the Gateway trailhead and the Gateway Loop Hike is one of our go-to hikes. So beautiful, close to the city, and superb views!

Map & Elevation Profile

Total distance: 4.68 mi
Max elevation: 2380 ft
Min elevation: 1673 ft
Total time: 01:31:57

Map for the Gateway Loop Hike

Get this map! The Green Trail Maps are super nice maps because they are easy to read, have good color coding, distances and elevations, and are usually up to date.

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!


Plugin ‘gateway trailhead’ and Google maps will take you right there. Parking is free!

Gateway Loop Hike Trail notes

I live close by and love the Mcdowells, so I am biased. When we discovered this area, I thought wow, this is great ‘real’ hiking close to the city with a lot of free parking. The desert landscape in this part of the Mcdowells is nice with tons of saguaros and teddy bear cacti. It feels more lush compared to other hiking areas in the city like North mountain or Lookout.

The Gateway Loop hike is a go-to hike for me. There is a little bit of elevation but it’s not going to kill you and it has great views of Camelback, the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, Lookout… I arrived at the trailhead at 8 am on a Friday morning, so it wasn’t too busy. I was back home at 9:45 am and ready to get started working. Definitely do this hike clockwise. The views coming down the saddle are way better if going clockwise (in my opinion!).

The best part was that the saguaro fruits were bursting open and starting to look like flowers. Plus the birds were going to town on them. Check what others are saying about this trail here.

So, was is the Gateway loop hike worth it?

Yep, definitely. This area is such a gem!

Other hikes close by

There are so many options close by! For something harder with more elevation, check out the Bell Pass Hike. For something more chill, mosey on up to the Fraesfield trailhead and try the Whiskey Bottle Trail Hike.

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