Windgate Pass, McDowell Mountains
A hike to a high, desert mountain pass, with some unexpected sights thrown in .

Getting there:  Park at 104th St. and East Bell Road.  There is a small, dirt lot there.

This is a relatively new trail.

Hike due north for a while.  The trail is straight, and at one point, it will pass through a large berm of earth that runs east-west.  Keep going north.  All of a sudden, the trail will take a 90-degree right turn.  Then it will intersect with a trail running from the northwest to the southeast.  Turn left and go northwest.

Once you have topped the ridge and continue down the eastern slope of the pass, you'll eventually come to an old settlers' windmill and other some equipment.  It's in a gully to the right of the trail.



There is what's left of a windmill, a well, some tanks that look like they're designed to hold water, some fencing, etc.  What's weird is that, down in this gully, it doesn't feel like you're right on the edge of Scottsdale anymore.  The place is more like what you'd expect in the Verde Valley, or some place further north and higher in elevation than the McDowells:

When you get back out on the main trail, head east and downhill again.  A short distance further you'll find a side trail that shoots left off the main trail and goes down into a wash.  If you follow the wash to the northwest, you'll find another unusual sight- a kind of rainwater-trapping system.

 There's a giant panel of what looks like corrugated aluminum, painted desert camouflage colors and tilting slightly.  It appears that rainwater falls on the panel and drains into a trough, and then into a pipe at the downhill end.  The pipe leads to a large, partially buried, fiberglass water tank.  And finally, there is another, open-topped water trough that looks like it's cemented into the ground on one side.

I have no idea who might have put this out there, in the middle of nowhere.  I'm not even sure who owns that particular piece of land.  I would assume that the water is for cattle, but I have never seen cattle out there.  This looks like a much newer construction than the nearby windmill and well.  I'm trying to get to the bottom of this mystery, and I'll post the answer on here when I find it.

For more pictures of Windgate Pass, click here.

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