Well, gosh, I guess I could write a straight trail review for once, eh?
Dixie Mine Trail in McDowell Regional Park
Distance: 5.4 miles out & back
Cumulative Elevation Gain: 600 feet (or so)
Time: 2 hours-ish
The McDowell Mountains does it again!
This is just the latest trail in the McDowell Mountains that I’ve fallen for. This beautiful hike starts in a private neighborhood, strolls through the foothills of the McDowell Mountain range, and ends at the Dixie Mine. The hike is located on the southwest corner of the McDowell Mountain Regional Park and is accessed via a small park entrance. The trailhead is a small parking lot (with bathrooms) in a quiet neighborhood.
Start the hike by following the well-marked sidewalk path through the neighborhood for the first half mile or so. This idea turned me off at first but don’t let it sway you! It’s a nice little walk and the hike is totally worth it.
After following signs and crossing a residential street, enter the desert and pay the $2 fee at the kiosk to enter the park. Be sure to grab a map. Then simply follow the Dixie Mine Trail for the next 2+ miles. The trail is easy to follow with frequent trail signs.
When you encounter a wide service dirt road at about 2.4 miles, turn right to continue along the Dixie Mine Trail.* You’ll pass a large pile of rock and sand marking the site of the mine. Keep an eye out for a sharp left turn to follow another service dirt road up to the mine itself which is a deep hole in the rock floor covered by a metal grate.
(We accidentally followed a shortcut [oops] that was trailblazed which I feel TERRIBLE about so please avoid that small trail and look for the dirt road.)
That’s it! When ready, retrace your steps back to the trailhead.
This trail is NOT featured in my book, Take a Hike Phoenix, but is a strong contender for the book’s 2nd edition which will be released sometime in the next 4 years or so.
Get an interactive map and more details on my everytrail.com review. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page and use the Google map tool for driving directions.
*Optional directions that make this hike 10x more awesome (but aren’t shown on the map above)
Wow, it really pays to have friends on the trail. My darling hiking buddy recently contacted me to describe an alternate route that leads to the mine entrance, petroglyphs, caves, and a waterfall (if it’s been raining). Whatever!
Here’s how to do it: Follow the trail as described above. After making a right turn on the service road to follow Dixie Mine Trail, look to the left for a small trail that enters a canyon and travels under a canopy of riparian-area trees (can’t miss them — it’s the only leafy vegetation for miles). Follow the trail along the canyon floor. Look to the right for the signed entrance to Dixie Mine. Continue and see petroglyphs (and some graffiti…grrr) to your left. You’ll see caves speckled throughout your walk. Though the trail continues, my pal ended her adventure when she reached a sheer rock wall that may or may not be a waterfall depending on recent weather. All of this happens in about 1/2 mile from the turn into the canyon.
Clearly, adding this option is a must-do…and it’s a great excuse for me to revisit this hike!