The Mountains of Arizona •
Lost Dog Peak • Peak 2921 • McDowell Mountains
• McDowell Sonoran Preserve
• City of Scottsdale, Maricopa County

Lost Dog Peak, Arizona
Peak 2921 "Lost Dog Peak", seen to the left of Thompson Peak with the towers.
Lost Dog Peak, Arizona
The peak, closer in.
Lost Dog Peak, Arizona
The summit is in shadow and I climb the ridge.
Lost Dog Peak, Arizona
The summit ridge.
Lost Dog Peak, Arizona
Last few feet.
Lost Dog Peak, Arizona
The main ridge of the McDowell Mountains: Doubletop, and Peak 3804.
Lost Dog Peak, Arizona
Thompson Peak from the summit.
Lost Dog Peak, Arizona
East View.
Lost Dog Peak, Arizona
Now a west view.
Lost Dog Peak, Arizona
South view of Taliesin Overlook.
Lost Dog Peak, Arizona
Hiking out, Verde Peak and Sawik Mountain in the distance.

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Date: February 23, 2020 • Elevation: 2,921 feet • Prominence: 331 feet • Distance: 6.2 miles • Time: 2 hours, 50 minutes • Gain: 1,215 feet • Conditions: Low clouds, cool, sunny at times and humid


I'd been busy this weekend, moving furniture to our new place in Payson. Today (Sunday), I made a morning run, my fourth trip to Payson since Friday. I was done off-loading stuff there about noon, and headed back south to the Valley, the time now about 1:30. Today was cloudy and cool, the after-effects of a heavy rainstorm that moved through the state over the past 36 hours.

I got as far south as the Shea Boulevard exit off the Beeline Highway (AZ-87). I followed Shea westbound for a few miles, up and down the hills in Fountain Hills, then down the long grade into Scottsdale. I had my sights on a hike in the McDowell Mountains. At 124th Street, I went north and parked in the Lost Dog Trailhead parking lot. The lot was full of cars and people.

I had some hiking clothes in the car already, so I changed into them and got my stuff together, locked the car and started walking at 1:55 p.m.. My goal today was Peak 2921, or "Lost Dog Peak". This peak lies north of the Taliesin Lookout saddle, and Taliesin Overlook the peak, and south of McDowell Peak.

The weather was pleasant: it was sunny but there were mid-level puffy clouds that moved through quickly. There was a steady breeze, and when it blew, cooled things down. However, when it was calm and the sun was out, the humidity would "spike", the dewpoint about the same as the air temperature making for slightly sultry conditions. Fortunately, the air temperature was still lingering in the high 50s.

I walked to the ramada at the trailhead then onto the Lost Dog Trail, heading north. There were lot of people out today, no surprise since yesterday was too rainy. It was a mix of everyone: hikers, strollers, old people, kids, dogs, joggers, and so on. The farther in I hiked, the fewer people there were.

The distance from the trailhead to the Taliesin Overlook saddle is 2.3 miles, and I moved kind of quickly. I was at the saddle in just under an hour, doing well and sporting attractive sweat stains from the humid air. This was the easy part. The next 0.8 mile (estimating) would be up the north ridge to the summit, about 800 feet higher.

I invoked my "if there's a trail I'm following it" rule for hiking off the official trails in the McDowell Preserve. I did not see anything right off the main trail so I picked a place and started hiking in, immediately surrounded by cholla. I weaved through them and through other trees and cacti (barrel, staghorn and hedgehog). When the slope started to steepen, I walked to what looked to be the friendliest line, and sure enough, found remnants of an old path.

The hike to the top follows the ridge, up and over about six little bumps along the way. The terrain was always open with minimal obstacles, the grade was never terribly steep, and I followed scant paths whenever possible. Some may have been game paths but other looked to be old people-paths. On one of the ridgebumps, I found a hefty fire ring, about three feet in diameter and a foot high.

The last slope is the steepest, but not troublesome. I traversed underneath one rock outcrop and onto the summit ridge. Two bumps look to be about equal in height. I tagged both and walked to the farthest one, where I found a small register. The last person to sign in did so 4 years ago. The weather was holding steady, with a breeze and mostly sunny conditions. I snapped a few images.

I did not stay long, though. I started back down almost immediately, retracing the route and encountering no troubles at all. I was able to keep a good pace, just watching my ankles so I wouldn't turn one on the rocks. I was back to the main trail about 20 minutes later.

The hike back to my car went quickly, too. I was kind of rushing things. A sign at the trailhead said the park closed at 6:14 p.m. (an oddly exact time) and that cars still in the lot would be locked in and the owners cited. I knew it was not close to 6 p.m., but the shadows were growing long. As it was, I was back to my car at 4:50 p.m., safe from being locked in.

From here, I just drove "home" to our place in Scottsdale. It will be home only for a few more weeks. It still does not feel real, but I am happy to be getting out of the Valley after all these years. But the peaks, hills and bumps I'll always enjoy. This hike went well and had great views the whole way. I would not recommend it over other peaks and trails in the park, and very few people seek it out. It's only of interest to completists anyway.

(c) 2020 Scott Surgent. For entertainment purposes only. This report is not meant to replace maps, compass, gps and other common sense hiking/navigation items. Neither I nor the webhost can be held responsible for unfortunate situations that may arise based on these trip reports. Conditions (physical and legal) change over time! Some of these hikes are major mountaineering or backpacking endeavors that require skill, proper gear, proper fitness and general experience.