Pinnacle Peak Park, Scottsdale, AZ

Work has kept me busy in recent weeks and now it's too hot outside to do much gardening. The forecast for the weekend is even more dismal: 110° on Friday, 111° on Saturday, and 105° on Sunday. Even on Monday (Labor Day) it's still supposed to be 103°. I doubt I'll get much yard work done!

So instead of going outside to take photos of the garden, let me show you another awesome place I visited on my Arizona trip last December.

On my way to Cavalliere Park in north Scottsdale, I drove right by 3,169 ft Pinnacle Peak. Rising almost 600 ft. from the desert floor, it's impossible to miss!

Pinnacle Peak shrouded in mist

After I was done at Cavalliere Park I decided to stop at Pinnacle Peak Park (managed by the City of Scottsdale) even though the sky was getting ever gloomier. I was expecting to have the park to myself, considering the weather and the fact that it was New Year's Eve. Not so. The parking lot was more than half full, and the trail up the mountain was quite busy. I quickly found out why: This is a fantastic place to be out in the desert, and the views are incredible!

Starting out, I focused on the native flora, including saguaros, chollas, barrel and hedgehog cactus growing right by the side of the trail. I suppose the locals take it for granted. But for me, it's still magical seeing these beautiful plants in the wild, even after so many visits.

Saguaros near the start of the trail

Fortunately I didn't encounter horses. The trail isn't that wide!

Baby saguaros and cholla

Strawberry hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus engelmannii)

See the tiny baby? It looks like a new arm growing.

This palo verde has been around for a long time

Amazing that anything can grow on top of sheer rock

Saguaros lining the trail

I was surprised (and not surprised!) to see houses nestled into the hillside. Fortunately, the architecture—and the colors—respected the natural environment.

A little higher up, the views were jaw-dropping: a full 270° panorama looking north, east and south. I wonder what this area looked like even 20 years ago. Were there any houses here? The sprawl from the Phoenix metro area seems to continue unabated in all directions. 

View towards the north

View towards the south

I had every intention of continuing on the trail but from one moment to the next the sky opened up:

Even though at first I was trying to pretend it was just a few sprinkles, I quickly had to admit that it was rain. Real rain. All I was wearing was a cotton hoodie which offered no protection so I began to head down the trail. Runners were passing me in a hurry. I wasn't quite as fleet on my feet so by the time I got to the shelter at the park entrance, I was pretty wet. Even though it wasn't all that cold (high 50s), I made a beeline for the car and cranked up the heat.

Wet poodle!

But not before taking one last photo of the people still on the trail:

I would have liked to explore Pinnacle Peak Park more, but there's always next time. One thing I do know: I would never want to hike this trail in the summer because it's completely exposed and hot, hot, hot.



  1. Very pretty. Fabulous views. And a rainy day in the desert. And here you said it: the architecture—and the colors—respected the natural environment. Blended and did not intrude. I like this very much.

  2. I've hiked that trail! On a much warmer, sunnier day. My brother told me stories of tourists having to be rescued so I was very careful and took plenty of water. Didn't want to become a statistic...

  3. We hiked that trail too a couple of years ago in late October. We went early in the morning before it was too hot. There were still lots of people around (too many).

    Not only can that grass grow on top of that rock, it was there in 2015--I took almost the same photo!

  4. This has been added to my ever-growing Arizona bucket list!

  5. Next PHX visit! Seeing desert plants and the rounded granite boulders everywhere is definitely a favorite thing, though I see variations on that every day...there it's Sonoran Desert plants instead of what we have. All good!


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