Inspiration

Arizona’s Natural Wonders and Hidden Gems

Troy Gillenwater knows a lot about hiking and the great outdoors.

Gillenwater is an experienced hiker and traveler. He knows the best hiking trails and experiences across Arizona as well as in the Valley and Scottsdale where Desert Mountain has some cool trails and leverages technology through an interactive trails guide that helps hikers find which trek is best for them.

Gillenwater says Arizona should be on every hikers’ bucket list especially the Grand Canyon.

Without a doubt, Grand Canyon hikes border on mystical experiences. The canyon’s overwhelming grandeur and volume of distance and space eons in the making, distill quite quickly what is and is not important in one’s life. Hiking in the canyon is humbling and invigorating at the same time. So many of us tend to take it for granted given that we live nearby, however, the Grand Canyon remains one of the seven natural wonders of the planet.

troy gillenwater
Troy at Ancient petroglyph panel near Arizona’s Painted Desert.

Like any good traveler or hiker, Gillenwater has his own bucket list of trails to explore and experience.

“To me, southwest Arizona is largely a great unknown. Vast, wide-open valleys and isolated mountain ranges that rise above the shimmer of mirage beckon to me. Mountain ranges with names like Eagletail, Harquahala, Castle Dome and Bucksin are difficult to resist,” Gillenwater said.

Gillenwater said he would also like to explore Nevada’s isolated and desolate mountain ranges. “Anymore I hunt for remote areas where the beauty is subtle, and the views are long I seek open space and solitude with the company of friends and brothers,” he said.

Closer to home, Gillenwater is a part of the Desperados. Those are members of the picturesque Desert Mountain community in north Scottsdale next to the 3 million-acre Tonto National Forest. The Desperados raised funds and resources to outfit Desert Mountain’s 18 miles of private hiking trails with an Interactive Trail Guide. That allows hikers to find the best experience for their skill and endurance levels via a 55-inch touch screen monitor at Desert Mountain’s trailhead. Hikers pick the best distance and experience and then can download a map and interactive guide.

Troy high atop Utah’s Kaiparowits Plateau.

“Desert Mountain’s Interactive Trail Guide allows the first-time visitor to select the best possible route for them. He or she, with a simple touch of the screen, can scan more than 30 routes based on distance, time, elevation gain and views to determine which hike is best for them,” Gillenwater said.

Gillenwater said Desert Mountain offers some of the least crowded and most visual hiking experiences in the Phoenix area that the trails are uncrowded, pristine and artfully routed wave through canyons, traverse saguaro-dotted slopes and crest lofty peaks to provide stunning panoramic views.

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