Arizona Solo Trip Day 4 (Lost Dutchman State Park, Tortilla Flat, McDowell Sonoran Preserve)

Day 4 was my last full day in Arizona on my solo trip. Just three days in Arizona and I felt so refueled, refreshed, and inspired. I was ready to go to a place on my bucket list for a while on day 4 but I was also ready to get home to Teddy and the doggies.

Morning Hike

I had my eye on Lost Dutchman State Park for a few years since I initially saw pictures of the mountains here. I’ve seen people hike the Siphon Draw Trail. While I’d love to hike part or all of that in the future, that wasn’t on my list for my solo trip this time. I did some research on all trails the night before and kept my eye out specifically for recent snake encounters. While I planned to wear hiking boots, I also wasn’t really interested in seeing a snake by myself. Since they can tend to be most active in the morning, I decided to watch sunrise from the balcony of my hotel and then set out on my hike. I started around 7 AM and finished around 9 AM as it was starting to get warmer.

I decided on the Treasure Loop Trail which is about 2 miles and about 530 feet of elevation gain. While on the trail, I decided at one of the intersections to get on another trail because of the views. What started as a hike on the Treasure Loop Trail then finished on the Prospector’s View Trail. It ended up being about 2.8 miles with about 541 feet of elevation gain on the trail. The route I took got me to the base of the mountains with beautiful yellow wildflower views and it’s exactly what I envisioned when I planned to visit the

An Old West Town

I was going to grab breakfast nearby but after checking out two places, didn’t feel the most comfortable going in by myself. There wasn’t anything wrong with either place but I got some interesting vibes so I decided to get Dutch Bros and then a snack at the gas station which also was an interesting experience. I don’t think I was in the best part of town so after figuring out my plans, I ate my lunchable and had my coffee and headed to the next stop. It was about a 30 minute drive through beautiful Tonto National Forest to the town of Tortilla Flat which was an old stagecoach stop in 1904. Along the way is Canyon Lake which was packed when I was there with lot of boaters, kayakers, and those trying to spend some time by the lake.

I wandered into the gift shops, restaurant, and general store of the town. While I really wanted to sit down and eat at the restaurant or outdoor area because it smelled so good, I had just eaten a lunchable and some snacks and wasn’t really hungry. Looking back, I would have waited to eat and spent more time in this old west town. After exploring, I headed back the way I came as the road is closed further down when I visited. I didn’t mind though because I got another drive through the beautiful National Forest.

A Relaxing Afternoon

I’m normally pretty decisive so my back and forth earlier in the day after my hike on what to do threw me a little for a loop. While I had decided on the drive to Tortilla flats, I actually had considered driving south to a favorite national park, Saguaro, near Tuscon for the day as well as considered some areas in west Phoenix and other hikes on the southeast side of Phoenix.

Once I got back to the hotel after my morning I was in a bit of a funk. I decided to grab a book, head down to the pool with a cold soda and relax. That helped, but I was still feeling off. It was almost too hot to just sit by the pool so I headed to my room and took a nap. I woke up still feeling off (likely not fueling my body with decent food and enough water and partially ready to be home) but I forced myself to get out of the hotel and go for a walk/hike and I’m so glad I did.

Evening Hike

I again had looked at various trails on All Trails to see where I could visit and do a shorter walk or hike in the area. I ended up picking the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and did a two mile hike before sunset. I did the Saguaro Trail to the Gateway Park Loop to Horseshoe to the Desert Park Trail. That makes it sound complicated but it was basically a 2 mile mini loop that gave me enough time before the park closed. There were a variety of people out exploring the area when I was there since there’s a lot of trails and beautiful views.

Tacos (Again!) and My Last Morning

I headed back to the hotel for dinner and asked for a recommendation from the server. He said the tacos but with fish instead of the carne asada so I literally got the same thing but with a different protein and it was so dang good. I mentioned this in a previous post but a meal is one of the most relaxing moments for me on a trip. I genuinely enjoy having a table to myself. I can read, people watch, enjoy a view, look at my phone, reflect on the day or just zone out for a bit. Most often, I both people watch and reflect on the day and share my travels on social media.

For this last night, I hung out for a while at dinner and then read for a bit on the patio of my room before packing up. My flight the next morning wasn’t until 9:15 so I didn’t have to go to bed as early as I had when I had a morning hike.

I ended up getting up around 6 and still got to see lingering sunset from the patio. I made my way through Phoenix traffic to return my rental car, take the tram to the terminal and board my flight. I arrived home later in the day and Teddy picked me up from the airport with a cold Diet Coke. We debriefed my trip on the way home and stopped for dinner since I only had airport food.

While my last full day didn’t go exactly as I had planned in my head, it still was really enjoyable. From the sunrise hike in a bucket list location to the old western town and then the evening hike among the cacti, and delicious fish tacos, it still was a great day.

  • Local Coffee Shop – Dutch Bros again. I thoroughly used my gift card on this trip.
  • Hike with a great view or end point – Lost Dutchman was a highlight. The views both out over the area were beautiful as were those approaching the mountains.
  • A few hours to relax – Reading in the AM and PM on the balcony as well as dinner were my restful moments
  • Learning – I learned a bit about Tortilla Flat and the Lost Dutchman Park but today is the day I learned the least about the area I was in.
  • Something novel – The old west town for sure. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect but to expect but even for a short visit it was fun to explore.
  • Something challenging – The hike at the Lost Dutchman in the morning with the elevation gain at points was a challenge. It wasn’t hard, but a good challenge and a great workout.
  • Scenic drive – The drdrive through Tonto National Forest was absolutely a highlight. I genuinely couldn’t believe somewhere was so beautiful.
  • Unique stay – The hotel for my last two nights of the trip was probably the least unique compared to the others but I really did enjoy the amenities on site. I loved having a restaurant that was actually good inside the hotel, my balcony even if it freaked me out at first, the pool, and the views from the entire area of the hotel.
  • Vistas – The views from the state park, Tonto National Forest, but also from the preserve and Tortilla Flats area were all really stunning.

You can read more about my decision to take a solo road trip to Arizona here, as well as the itinerary for Day 1Day 2, and Day 3 of the trip in these posts.

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