A 30 minute drive from Scottsdale. This is a popular desert park, 21,000 acres, with 40 miles of trails used for hiking, mountain biking, and running. The trails have great mountain views, passing through saguaro cactus. Especially pretty at sunrise or sunset, or when the skies are famously ‘monsoonal’.
There are two areas and multiple access points & parking areas: McDowell Mountain Regional Park & McDowell Sonoran Preserve. A few good choices for running:
Gateway Area: The Gateway Loop is popular but the footing is tough. For easier running, stick to the Saguaro Trail, Desert Park Trail, 104th St. Trail, Levee Trail. TRAIL MAP
McDowell Regional Park: Park trails range in length from 0.5 miles to 15.3 miles and in difficulty level from easy to strenuous. The 3.1 mile North Trail is a good one for running. This is a list of all the trails with distances and difficulty ratings.
Video Excerpt: Gorgeous McDowell Park Trail Run With Great Skies (11 min.)