December 20, 2011

Lost Dog Wash Trail

Hiking, for our family, has become just as much about the dog's socialization, exercise, and adventure, as the human's. When I learned of the Lost Dog Wash Trail, I had just "lost" my dog to illness/old age, and the catchy trail name, plus the fact that I haven't hiked in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve yet, were the motivating factors for going here. Then we adopted this little bundle of energy (photo at right) from the pound, and we have begun the quest to right his misfortunes in life, starting with showing him the local scenery.

Some of the highlights of the Lost Dog Wash Trail include a beautiful trailhead building with "recycling" toilets, benches, and an amphitheater, gorgeous views of the McDowell Mountains, and a fairly gentle hike that can be made into a loop that includes an overlook of Taliesin West. Here is a nice map detailing how to make a loop out of the trails by beginning along the Lost Dog Wash Trail then turning right on the Ringtail Trail to begin a counter-clockwise loop after turning left at the Old Jeep Trail, and then returning along the Lost Dog Wash Trail. 

The only addition to this loop that we did was add 0.4 miles each way to hike to the Taliesin Overlook. You can see Taliesin in the distance from a much different perspective than those views that are normally photographed. This hike makes a nice complement to the exhibit currently going on at Phoenix Art Museum: Frank Lloyd Wright: Organic Architecture for the 21st Century. If you take the docent-led tour, she mentions two things that are visible from this overlook. The first is that Wright designed his structures to complement the existing surrounding natural environment. Even the name "Taliesin" is a Welsh word meaning "shining brow," and you can see how he placed his building in the "brow of the hill." The second thing apparent from the overlook is that Wright was a visionary in terms of placement of Taliesin West. He started building Taliesin West in 1937, long before the City of Phoenix easily merged into the City of Scottsdale and it's expanding suburbia which is so apparent from the Taliesin Overlook. There are some great views here, and you can even see parts of the Central Arizona Project Canal which supplies all of us desert-dwellers with what we so direly need: water.

Length: 5.5 miles
Elevation gain: 300 feet
Time it took us: 3 hours
Dogs okay: Yes
Fees: none
Directions: Take Shea Blvd. (go east from Loop 101 or west from the 87 Beeline Highway through Fountain Hills) and then head north on 124th Street to where it ends at the Lost Dog Wash Trailhead.