Desert Tortoise

Rating: 
One-way Distance: 1.1 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
MTB Skill level:
Elevation: 1622 - 1729 feet
Cellphone: 3-5 bars
Time: 30 mins.
Trailhead: Desert Vista
Fee: none
Attractions: Scenic singletrack




The Desert Tortoise trail is located in the Southern Area of the Sonoran Preserve in Phoenix, Arizona. The trail begins off of the Hawks Nest trail about a quarter mile from the trailhead. From there it travels around the mountain and into an open area where it ends at the Valle Verde trail.


The Desert Vista trailhead is located at 1900 West Desert Vista Trail. There are restrooms and water available at the trailhead.


The Desert Tortoise trail begins halfway up the Hawks Nest about 2 tenths of a mile from the trailhead.


For something that in places looks like it was carved right out of the rock the Desert Tortoise trail has a relatively smooth surface.


The changes in elevation come gradually as the trail wraps around the terrain.


All is not flat though as the route comes to a switchback and finds a wash to cross.


The climb back out of the wash is gradual enough to be moderately easy. As the trail continues it passes a spur that connects it with one of the local neighborhoods that border the Preserve.


After passing a second side trail Desert Tortoise continues its journey around the mountain.


Towards the end of the trail it levels off as Union Peak comes into view off in the distance.


A little over a mile from where it started Desert Tortoise reaches the Valle Verde trail and comes to an end. A popular hike is to go to the left at this point and loop back to the trailhead on the Valle Verde and Dixie Mountain Loop. A longer excursion can be had by going to the right and picking up the Cactus Wren and/or the Great Horned Owl Loop. The Desert Tortoise trail is a handy connecting route in the Southern Area of the Sonoran Preserve. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is grab your bike or 'Take a hike'.