Getaway Guide: 2 Day Mini Trip to Scottsdale

I love vacationing with friends: you have endless hours together catching up on all the good times and funny stories and still get to experience new things together building upon your friendship. One of these great mini trips was with my best friend from college to Scottsdale, AZ. We live on different coasts and only get to catch up a few times a year so it made the time together all the more precious.

Check out my top tips and recommendations below to max out your time and memories on a super quick (mine was just 2 days!) trip to Scottsdale.

Adventure Appeal x Scottsdale, AZ // April 2017

ADVENTURE APPEAL’S 2 DAYGETWAY GUIDE TO SCOTTSDALE, AZ

♦ Know Before You Go
♦ Savor
♦ Get Active
♦ View From Above
♦ Lodging
♦How to Get There

 

 

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

  • Get your fill of the Saguaro! Southern AZ and parts of Mexico are their natural habitat.
  • Bring sunscreen and a swimsuit — the sun is strong and when we visited there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, so we spent every afternoon chatting and lounging by the pool.
  • There’s incredible visibility at night in the desert, so don’t forget to look up at the stars. 🙂
  • Frequently resorts offer packages for discounted prices that include spa credits and breakfasts. Choose one of these for the ultimate luxury escape!
  • Many resorts also have a car service that you can utilize to take you on hikes and into town. Just be sure to bring cash for a tip.
  • Springtime is one of their busiest seasons for Scottsdale with visitors escaping cold weather and coming in town for baseball’s spring training.
  • Scottsdale is the new Caribbean for baby-moons! Thank you, Zika.
Can’t touch this! // Adventure Appeal x Scottsdale // April 2017

GET ACTIVE

It’s too easy to be active in Scottsdale. Resorts have a slew of classes free of charge with small numbers. Reset with a yoga class, or power up with bootcamp (don’t worry the pool is your reward later!).

I like big boulders and I cannot lie 😉 // Scottsdale, AZ, April 2017

Also be sure to check out the many accessible hiking trails. Two of our favorites were the very steep 2.5 mile climb up Camelback Mountain and the meandering Saguaro-filled Quartz Ridge Trail . Each were within 15 minutes of our resort, which you really can’t beat! See my review for the Quartz Ridge Trail trail here: http://adventureappeal.com/quartz-ridge-trail-8a/

Getting my Saguaro fix along the Quartz Ridge Trail // Scottsdale, AZ, April 2017

SAVOR

  • Pick international and eclectic small plates with locally sourced ingredients at the flavor-packed FnB. Request patio seating at dinnertime for a charming experience!
  • Poolside breakfast and lunch at the Sanctuary. We absolutely loved their kale salads with shrimp and a glass of rosé, the breakfast omelets and fresh smoothies.
  • Iced matcha tea lattes, cactus cookies and rose colored / scented / flavored everything at the adorable Růže Cake House right on Main Street.
Stop by Růže Cake House for all your caffeine and sweet tooth cravings // Scottsdale, AZ, April 2017

VIEW FROM ABOVE

Besides the view from the pool 😉 my favorite view from the trip was at the top of Camelback Mountain.

Hello, Arizona!! Best view of the trip was from Camelback Mountain // Scottsdale, AZ, April 2017

LOGDING

We absolutely loved staying at the Sanctuary Camelback Resort and Spa! Each room was in a casita and felt very modern and stylish. The poolside service, massage packages and grounds were top notch too.

In heaven poolside at the Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa // Scottsdale, AZ, April 2017

Including Sanctuary, here are our top picks are listed below to find your desert oasis:

Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa

Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia

Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Spa

HOW TO GET THERE (& BACK!)

Scottsdale is a quick trip from the Pheonix Airport and I found it so easy to navigate using ride share services, skipping the cost and hassle of a rental car. Also, check Southwest Airlines for cheap flights in and out — there are some genuine steals out there!

I really loved my mini trip to Scottsdale and I hope these tips help you to max our your quick trip there. Add any places I should bookmark for next time to the comments section below!

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Hiking Amongst the Cacti: Quartz Ridge Trail (#8A)

Welcome to Saguaro heaven! For those of us visiting Scottsdale on a quick vacation, be sure to add the Quartz Ridge Trail to your itinerary for your fill of hiking and cacti.

Adventure Appeal x Scottsdale // Quartz Ridge Trail (#8A) // April 2017

The Quartz Ridge Trail (also known as trail #8A of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve) is a quick out and back hike totaling approximately 3.5 miles. The path starts wide and slow and becomes thinner and steeper as the trail goes on, with lots of switchbacks to make the elevation gain (705 feet) feel extremely manageable.

Cactus with a view! What could be more Scottsdale? // Quartz Ridge Trail (#8A) // April 2017

One of my girlfriends and I hiked the trail in a little over an hour, stopping along for lots of cactus pictures and views of the city down below. There’s excellent signage, and follow the markers for #8A.  There are many other trails that intersect, so if you’d like to increase mileage that’s entirely possible.

On the trail! Quartz Ridge (#8A) // Scottsdale, April 2017

Only 10 minutes from town, we popped over to Růže Cake House right on Main Street for lattes and a snack afterwards and then headed straight to the pool back at the Sanctuary.  It was the perfect morning and such fun exploring a new trail! Check out my quick and dirty review below:


QUARTZ RIDGE TRAIL (#8A PHOENIX PRESERVE)

Best Time of Year To Go: Fall – Spring (when it doesn’t get too hot!)

Hiking Distance: 3.5 miles out and back

Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate

Insider tips:

  • Be sure to pack plenty of water and sunscreen as the hike up and back is shade-free. You can also check for heat advisories here.
  • There’s a small parking at 32nd St and Lincoln with about 10 spaces that puts you right at the trailhead.
  • Southern Arizona and parts of Mexico are the only places where you can catch the Saguaro in it’s natural habitat. You’ll enjoy seeing so many along the trail.
  • No permit required – yay!
  • This hike is easily accessible from Scottsdale resorts and hotels, yet is not as hectic as Camelback Mountain.
  • At the end of the trail, it merges with #8B, so look for markers to make sure you don’t go too far — unless you want the extra mileage ;).

Rating: Great experience! (4/5 stars)

Maps & additional reviews: AllTrails & Phoenix Parks & Rec


Let’s connect… Have you been to Scottsdale, and did you also love the Quartz Ridge Trail? Besides Camelback Mountain, what other hikes should I bookmark for my next visit?

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Trailblaze Challenge Finisher!!!

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! On May 20th I was the 3rd to cross the finish line at San Diego’s inaugural TRAILBLAZE CHALLENGE, a one-day, 26+ mile hike to raise awareness and funds for Make-A-Wish San Diego.  It was an incredible journey following the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) via the Cougar Crest Trail and ending at Onyx Summit near Big Bear, California.

Mission Accomplished! 3rd to the Finish Line // Trailblaze Challenge, May 20th 2017

I had so much fun with my girlfriends and loved meeting the other participants; we really created a little family, encouraging each other and drawing from each other’s strength and positive energy.  It was inspiring to hear the participants’ pasts and stories. Hikers varied in age and hiking experience — 21 to 75 and Mt Whitney veterans to brand new hikers, and most special of all was meeting fellow hikers who were parents to Wish-kids and learning how the organization has brought such happiness to their lives.

Get all the race day feel-goods with this video captured by the event’s photographer and see my race-day recap below. Stay tuned later this week for my Top 7 Tips for a Hiking Race if you’re ready to sign up for this challenge or a similar one soon.

San Diego Make-A-Wish Trailblaze Challenge from Travis Rieth on Vimeo   (catch me at 40 seconds and 1:30 🙂 )

RACE RECAP: TEAM ADVENTURE APPEAL TAKES ON THE TRAILBLAZE CHALLENGE

We started this long but glorious day at 3:15am when the 80 hikers, event staff and medics met for roll call and breakfast. We were soon out the door for the starting line with our headlamps on. My girlfriends and I started in wave 7 at 4:15am, and in the pitch black night it was so much fun to see the string of lights below and above us on the trail. Before long, the light was breaking and we watched the sun rise over Big Bear Lake, a truly beautiful sight.

Starting at 4:15am, 80 Hikers took on San Diego’s first Trailblaze Challenge // May 20th 2017
Team Adventure Appeal ready to start this epic journey! // Big Bear California, May 20th 2017

The race course included 3 aid stations and they were the perfect markers for recapping later with our fellow hikers and friends. Before the 1st aid station we acclimated to elevation, navigated the trail in the dark and were moving quickly, high on coffee and race-day adrenaline. Next, we hit our stride for a 7-8 miles, going long stretches of slight incline and steady downhill. These provided gorgeous viewpoints of the valley and lots of Mojave yucca spotting.

Mojave yucca and valley views // Trailblaze Challenge, May 20th, 2017

At the 2nd aid station there were Make-a-Wish cheerleaders, friends and family with signs and cowbells and a feast of snacks. Everyone partook in some much needed restoration here and I shed a lot of layers as the sun become stronger.

The next stretch was long and solo. I hit my stride and saw few race-day or PCT through hikers for the next 9 miles. Following the race map, PCT markers and taking countless pictures and funny videos I kept on track and in high spirits. The terrain was a mix of narrow dirt paths and wide loose rocks with seemingly endless views of the Johnson Valley.

All about that view from above // Trailblaze Challenge, May 20th 2017

Clocking in at the 3rd aid station, I was mindful not to spend as long as I did at the 2nd, since there were just 5 miles left of the race. These 5 miles were the toughest yet, a steady climb uphill precisely when your body and mind start to break down. I kept repeating positive mantras in my head and seeing the friendly face of a fellow race-day hiker at mile 27 really motivated me to keep going.

5 Miles left, repeating my silly, playful mantra “PCT ain’t got nothing on me” 😉 // Trailblaze Challenge, May 20th 2017

1 mile from the finish line, the extra adrenaline and excitement of finishing was taking over and views of Onyx Summit were starting to form. We even passed the famous couch rest stop (next time ;)). Because this was a hiking race, the finish line wasn’t as clear, and myself and a fellow hiker wound up passing it, increasing our mileage and our excuses for lots of delicious treats later.

Fancy a seat or a snack? PCT Trail Angels fill this dumpster with water, snacks and inspiration for through hikers // Onyx Summit, May 20, 2017

Happy, hungry and in awe of the process, I ended the race at 10 hours and 15 minutes, clocking in 29.15 miles and finishing 3rd. It was exhilarating, humbling and altogether such a push mentally and physically. Thank  you for this incredible opportunity, Make-A-Wish and to all those that provided encouragement and support!

29.15 miles later, happy sweaty and ready for to celebrate // Trailblaze Challenge, May 20th 2017

 

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Double Peak Trail in San Marcos

Hiking for me has become addictive! I love being outside, pushing my legs and lungs to my max and of course catching epic viewpoints. That last part isn’t surprising to anyone who knows me and my love for rooftop bars and city views.

Hiking is also a great way to add in everyday adventures into your life, since each trail is a new challenge and pushes you out of your bubble and everyday routines. This year I’ve been working hard to complete the 2016 52 Hike Challenge where I will complete 52 hikes in 52 weeks. I’m well on my way and just recently added this hike to my list.

Double Peak Trail is a 4.1 mile loop located in San Marcos, California.

Sitting pretty at the top of Double Peak Trail in San Marcos, California
Discovery Lake at the Trailhead

The trailhead starts at Discovery Lake and winds up through a neighborhood until you start gaining elevation. Parts can be loose and gravely and not well marked, but all that is worth it for the 360 views from the top where you can see mountains in the distance (pick your next hike out from the skyline!), the Pacific Ocean and great North and East County San Diego views.

I was so happy about finding this new spot to add to my local repertoire and I rewarded myself afterwards with some delicious green tea boba!

Check out my quick and dirty review of the hike below:


DOUBLE PEAK TRAIL

Best Time of Year To Go: Accessible all year round

Hiking Distance: 4.1 mile loop

Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate

Insider tips:

  • Bring lots of water because there is minimal shade until the top at Double Peak Park.
  • There’s a bathroom at the top, which is very convenient!
  • If you want to meet a friend they can drive to the top and for a picnic lunch on the benches.

Rating: Great hike (4/5 stars)

Maps & additional reviews: All Trails Map, Modern Hiker Review, San Marcos


Let’s connect…What was your experience like at Double Peak Trail? Any other favorite viewpoints in Southern California that I should add to my wish list?

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