Above: Sunrise Peak Trail - ANDREW HARPER

Central Arizona is blessed with miles of great hiking within easy commute of thePhoenix-Scottsdalearea. The 30,000-acreMcDowell Sonoran Preserve, which protects habitat around the McDowell range to the east of Scottsdale, is one of my favorite places to see a sunrise or sunset in the region. We chose to hike Sunrise Peak, because it was on the opposite end of the preserve from the main trailhead and was much less crowded. The spring California poppies growing amid tall saguaro cacti and spiny cholla made for a stunning 3.5-mile ascent to the top.

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