Owls and Bunnies and Snakes, Oh My! – Sonoran Preserve Hiking Area

Sonoran Preserve

I heard about a new place to hike recently that is not too far from our house, and just north of the Phoenix metropolitan area.  My husband and I enjoy hiking a lot, and it is always fun to find new places to go so we headed out there last weekend.  The area is called the Sonoran Preserve, and there are many trails to choose from of all different lengths.  We chose the Hawk Nest Trail because a friend of mine told me she had seen a mother owl and her babies in a nest along this path.  I had never seen an owl except at the zoo so was very excited about the possibility of seeing one.

The Sonoran Preserve is a beautiful area, and the paths are well maintained.  Most of the trails are easy to moderate in difficulty, meandering up and down and around small hills, although once in a while there will be a steeper incline.

Sonoran Preserve

There are many different types of cactus everywhere you look a long the way.  We went early to avoid the heat, and I loved how the sun shone through the chollas making it look like they were glowing.

Sonoran Preserve

Saguaros stand watch all along the trails.

Sonoran Preserve

If you want to see saguaro blossoms (our state flower), May is the time to go.  They were just starting to bloom.

Sonoran Preserve

We saw a barrel cactus along the way.

Sonoran Preserve

It was blooming also.

Sonoran Preserve

The desert was full of one of our favorite plants, the creosote bush.  We love it because during storms it lets off a delicate, fresh scent that those who live here associate with rain.  Because we get deliriously happy when it does rain, this smell brings good memories with it.  Besides the good scent, it has tiny little puffy balls all over it this time of year.

Sonoran Preserve

We eventually came to a fork in the road and were standing there , trying to decide which trail take, when another hiker told us he had just seen a snake on one of the trails.  We decided to take the road less traveled by, at least by snakes.  That is the only thing I don’t like about hiking.  I hate snakes!  Winter is a much better time to hike here, as they are hibernating then.  They are starting to wake up now, so it pays to be careful and watch the trail.  I make Jeff go first.  Not that I’m a coward or anything.  Okay, maybe I am a coward when it comes to snakes.  Fortunately, Jeff doesn’t mind.  But all this nervousness about snakes was worth it in the end, because we got to see an owl!  I couldn’t believe how big the nest was and that it was in a giant saguaro cactus.

Sonoran Preserve

It had such a cute face!

Sonoran Preserve

I can now cross seeing an owl off my bucket list.  That really made my day.

I know that the beauty of the desert can be an acquired taste.  I was born and raised here and have come to love it over time.  Pretty much, if you stare at something long enough it starts to look pretty because you get used to it and see its uniqueness.  I’m hoping this works in marriage too!:)  But if you enjoy seeing different kinds of cactus, beautiful scenic vistas, and possibly some native Arizona wildlife, the Sonoran Preserve is a great place to go.  Be sure to take plenty of water with you and find out which trails are the best match for your endurance level.  No matter which trail you choose, you will get to experience the uniqueness Arizona has to offer!

Sonoran Preserve

Sonoran Desert Preserve

(Near Jomax & I-17 Freeway –

click on link for specific trail







About Shari

My name is Shari, and I am an Arizona native and married mother of 3 who loves to cook and bake and figure out how to garden successfully in our suburban home in the desert. On this blog you will find a combination of savory and sweet recipes that have been tested by me, along with many tips to help you be successful. I hope you enjoy them! (cookazido.com)
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16 Responses to Owls and Bunnies and Snakes, Oh My! – Sonoran Preserve Hiking Area

  1. cheri says:

    Hi Shari, my husband and I have been on that trail and we really enjoyed ourselves, we did not see any owls or snakes (fortunately).

    • Shari says:

      I’m so glad to know you have been there and enjoyed it too, Cheri! I’m also happy you didn’t run into any snakes. I wish I wasn’t so afraid of them, as it can ruin the hiking experience sometimes. I’m better than I used to be. I don’t cry when I see them anymore!:) Do you have other hiking trails around here that you and your husband like?

  2. Gosh, I just can’t imagine how amazing it must be to have this hike near to your home…
    You are right, May is clearly the time to go!
    Amazing photos – but it must have been a very hot hike!
    Emma 🙂

    • Shari says:

      It really wasn’t too bad, Emma. We got there about 7:00 A.M. That is the key I think – start early. I think next time we would try to go even a bit earlier. It is nice to have trails like this so close by. There are quite a few different places in the Phoenix area. Each one is a little different than the rest. Thanks so much for your comment!

  3. I have never hiked or been to the desert, and I was surprised to see the variety of plants in your photos. I’m afraid I was one who thought, “You see one cactus, you’ve seen ’em all.” Well, your post has proven otherwise.

    • Shari says:

      It took me awhile, but I have come to love the desert. I didn’t want the post to be too long, so I didn’t show all the different kinds of cactus we saw. I can totally understand someone who lives in as beautiful place as you do, thinking that. Thanks for your comment, Ruth!

  4. foodessen says:

    You’ve captured the desert beautifully in you photos and what a wonderful place to live!

    • Shari says:

      Thank you, Connie! Arizona is a very diverse state. You can see all kinds of terrain here with only a couple hours drive. It really is a wonderful place to live! Thanks for your comment!

  5. What a beautiful place! I can’t imagine what it would be like to hike amongst all the beautiful cactus’. I love this! Our climate is so completely different up here in Washington State. What a refreshing post.

    • Shari says:

      I’m glad you appreciate the desert! It is pretty in its own way. I think you live in such a beautiful state. I have been to Washington many times, and I am always just blown away by how gorgeous it is there! And there is water everywhere you look. So amazing. The first time we visited there when I was in high school, our family just couldn’t get over how green it was. I love the uniqueness of all the different states. Thank you so much for your kind words!

      • I know exactly what you mean. I remember when we first moved here from the high desert (Nevada) we couldn’t quit commenting on all the greenery. Just to see wild ferns growing like weeds was so spectacular. But something about those huge cactus’ where you live are so unique and a sight to see. And, like you I love the beauty of the different states.

  6. thebrookcook says:

    Your photos (& hike!) are fabulous!! The owl made my day 🙂 My son is studying the Sonoran desert at school and was thrilled to read your post as well. Thanks!

    • Shari says:

      Thank you very much! The owl made my day, too. I wish I could have gotten a better picture of it. We went back the next day to do that, and it wasn’t there!:( I’m so glad your son got to read the post as well. I hope it helped him in his studies. I appreciate you letting me know that!

  7. Liz says:

    I love dessert plants. They are so unique and photogenic. Thanks for sharing!

    • Shari says:

      They definitely are unique. Not everyone sees the beauty in them so am glad you enjoyed the pictures. I appreciate you letting me know.

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