The pavement reaching the Adero Canyon Trailhead (ACT) earlier this month was great news for hikers wanting to enjoy the Fountain Hills McDowell Sonoran Preserve. But even with limited access due to subdivision construction nearby, hikers have left a lot of boot prints on the trails out of ACT, as well as other hiking trails around Fountain Hills.
The McDowell Mountain Preservation Commission (MMPC) installed trail counters at various locations on trails around town beginning in 2017. In a report released last week, MMPC states that since the beginning, an estimated 383,406 hikers or bikers have passed in front of the counters around town. In 2020, through September, 89,667 hikers have been counted.
Not surprisingly, the trail with the most traffic is near the center of town. The Lake Overlook Trail had counters installed by the beginning of 2017. Since then, more than 209,000 have hiked the arc above the Fountain Lake.
At the Botanical Garden off Fountain Hills Boulevard, a trail counter was installed in early 2018. Since March of that year, 44,647 hikers have been tabulated on the Garden Trails.
The ACT, designed as a central trailhead for all the Preserve, is considered the town’s master trailhead. Since it was opened in November 2018, 65,207 people have crossed the counter. The first five months the trailhead was open (November to March) 43,174 hikers were counted.
Beginning in April of 2019, the developer of the Adero Canyon subdivision restricted access to Eagle Ridge Drive leading to the trailhead, generally keeping hikers away except for weekends.
In 2017 the first trail counters were located on the Lake Overlook, the north end of the Sonoran Trail out of McDowell Mountain Park, and on the Andrews/Kinsey and Western Loop trails in the Preserve. Those trails are accessed from Scottsdale also.
That first year, 65,877 visitors were counted.
In 2018 the Botanical Garden was added early in the year and one month at ACT was counted. The total for 2018 was 90,292.
In 2019, with the addition of a full year of ACT activity, the count jumped to 137,570 hikers.
In March 2020, a separate counter was added out of ACT to track hikers on the Overlook and Ridgeline trails in the Preserve. That counter had 1,966 people pass by it.
Due to restricted access and some technical issues with counters, some of the numbers are estimated for various months. Of 195 months accounted for in this study, the totals for 57 months were estimated.