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Windgate Pass Day Hike
McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Scottsdale
December 22, 2018
by Tom Simonick
group
Trailblazers at Inspiration Point. [photo by Dave]
Debbie, Sunae, Ramona, Tamar, Tom, Dave
Not shown - Peter, Deidre

In what has become an annual December hike, eight Club members left the McDowell Sonoran Preserve’s Gateway Trailhead on a sunny morning heading for the first stop at Inspiration Point.

hikers
The beginning of a wonderful hike. [photo by Tom]

Gateway trail was already pretty busy, but once we were on the Windgate trail hikers became more spread out.

hikers
Pay attention! This is an important junction. [photo by Tom]

Hiking towards Inspiration Point provided good views of Scottsdale to the north and northeast, including million dollar homes on the edge of the Preserve. Along the way the brittlebush and poppies were blooming, along with other wildflowers

yellow
Poppies brighten our trail. [photo by Debbie]
sky
Mackerel sky above a hillside. [photo by Debbie]

Six of stopped at Inspiration Point for a group photo. Unfortunately, the hike leader had not made it clear that we were stopping, so two hikers kept on going towards Windgate.

hikers
We’re almost to Inspiration Point. [photo by Tom]

Leaving Inspiration Point, we hiked up to Windgate Pass in an easy climb, gaining about 360 feet of elevation in a mile. We caught up with one of our hikers, and since Windgate doesn’t have comfortable rocks to sit on, we decided not to stop and continued down from the saddle until we turned west on the Bell Pass trail. Two miles of uphill hiking brought us to the Bell Pass summit, just in time to see the fountain at Fountain Hills.

hikers
Moving right along. [photo by Tom]
hikers
We’re on a long down grade. [photo by Tom]
fountain
You can see the fountain from here. [photo by Dave]

Leaving the summit, we worked our way down the steep trail.

hikers
Ramona and Debbie on the steep trail. [photo by Tom]

As we descended, we had great views across Phoenix. Along the way one hiker slipped and got a cut on his head, but some first aid stopped the bleeding. All of us made it back to a now very busy Gateway trailhead, and had a short celebration in the parking lot before leaving for home.

Sunae
Sunae [photo by Tom]
Debbie
Debbie [photo by Tom]

The hike was about 9.9 miles long which we completed in 5 hours, 12 minutes, with an accumulated elevation gain of 2400 feet.

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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated December 31, 2018