Hitting The Trails: Lost Dog Wash Trailhead

Lost Dog Wash Trailhead

My Tuesday morning was serene and invigorating, thanks to Beth Duckett of the Arizona Republic.

We recently highlighted Beth’s article on Scottsdale hiking. Since our weather cooperated the next morning, I took her advice and checked out Lost Dog Wash Trailhead on 124th Street, just north of Cactus Road.

There were three reasons I chose Lost Dog Wash from Beth’s long list of hiking suggestions:

    1. October is McDowell Sonoran Preserve Month.
    2. The trailhead is just 12 minutes from my house.
    3. There are “facilities” on site.

While I enjoy hiking Camelback Mountain, it’s rare that I return to the start of Cholla Trail without wishing there was a bathroom nearby. Of course, I could just keep my propensity to hydrate excessively in check.

In addition to bathroom facilities, there’s also ample parking, sitting areas, hitching posts, water fountains, bike racks, and a small amphitheater.

Award Winning Design

Lost Dog Wash Trailhead Building

The trailhead building and parking lot blend in with the surrounding desert, so we get the best of both worlds: modern conveniences (including shade!) and minimal disturbance to the desert. Since I hiked there, I’ve learned that the eye-pleasing design of this building provides photovoltaic cells which generate electricity, and water harvesting that produces nearly 75,000 gallons of water annually for landscape irrigation. Also, it was awarded the top Honor Award by the American Institute of Architects, Western Mountain Region.

Connect The Trails

Lost Dog Wash is part of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, offering connections to the nearby Sunrise, Ringtail and  Taliesin trails [Note: news item about Mountain View Trail].  A few reviews on Yelp show that it’s “great for trail running not so scrabbly that you need to worry about foot placement at all.” Running? I wouldn’t know much about that.

Lost Dog Wash Trailhead Marker

Thankfully, the existence of trail connections necessitates trail signage. Seems I was so focused on enjoying the desert that I nearly missed my turn back to the trailhead.

What I especially enjoyed about Lost Dog Wash was that within two minutes of beginning your hike, the trail curves around, pretty much hiding the city behind a mountain. This made me feel more connected to the desert experience than I do on other elevated trails, most of which have a view. Of course, that “connection” kept me alert for critters, encouraging me to be a noisy hiker – dragging my feet a bit, kicking stones, humming – all in hopes of announcing my existence and not surprising anyone. Especially rattlesnakes.

[Note: Someone once told me, when you hear that distinctive sound of the rattle, you run much farther than logic dictates. I since learned they are right. Fortunately, my morning at Lost Dog Wash was uneventful.]

Take A Hike

If you’re looking for an easy hike that’s in town, and you appreciate a tidy restroom, I recommend Lost Dog Wash Trailhead. See our Take A Hike page for more great trails.

Lost Dog Wash Trailhead Map

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  1. I used to run that trail every Friday after dropping my daughter at school. I love it for the quite beauty, wide trails and open space. I went back recently and wasn’t able to run the trail but took a nice leisurely pace. I hope more people will take advantage of this amazing piece of heaven in the desert.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Keri! Yep….it’s a nice space that feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere, but there’s no long drive required!

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