Outdoor recreation

Trailblazers Create the Ridgeline Trail

What does it take to build a new hiking trail?

Perhaps you wondered about that when you first stepped foot on Fountain Hills’ newest hiking experience on the Ridgeline Trail at the Adero Canyon Trailhead.

In this case, it took a group of about 45 all-volunteer trail builders two seasons of seven months each to clip away the brush, dig up and move heavy rocks, and chip away at difficult areas to ensure hiker safety. And before you think, “Ah, the energy of youth!”, the average age of this group is 60 years old, with some already above 80!

Ridgeline Trail
Trailblazers Volunteers

Bill Craig is a board director for the Sonoran Conservancy of Fountain Hills and leads the Trailblazers group. The trail building process begins with him designing a trail on paper and in the field. Then he obtains approval from Town Council since the trail is in the Fountain Hills Preserve.

Ridgeline Trail
Ridgeline Trail BEFORE
Ridgeline Trail
Ridgeline Trail AFTER

“When it comes to trail building, there are three things that make it a difficult job,” says Bill. “Sometimes we have to work through a rock outcropping and that requires a lot of pick work. Other times we have to figure out how to build across a wash in a way that keeps the trail as safe and sustainable as possible. And then there are the areas where we must build horizontally across a steep vertical rise in the terrain, such as we encountered in some places on the Ridgeline Trail.”

But the Trailblazers worked through all these challenges and the result is an out-and-back trail that totals about 4.18 miles. Following the ridgeline of the hill gives it a sawtooth profile and provides a decent workout with an overall elevation gain of 870 feet.

Ridgeline Trail
Trailblazers working on the Ridgeline Trail

“My favorite thing about this trail is the views,“ says Bill. “As the trail wanders along the ridge, it occasionally dips toward Adero Canyon to the south, then toward SunRidge Canyon to the north. It culminates at a peak that overlooks all of Fountain Hills and Four Peaks, the Mazatzals, and the Superstitions.”

For more information about the Trailblazers and the Ridgeline Trail, visit

Inside Your Home

5 Home Tips for Empty Nesters

Entering the Empty Nester phase of life will either leave you in a puddle of tears or feeling excitement for the next chapter of their life…and yours. Perhaps you feel both ends of the emotional spectrum.

That chapter is inevitable. And it opens many options when it comes to your home. While some people choose to downsize after the kids move out, some people want to stay in their homes.

As you rethink your home, what changes do you want to make that reflect this new chapter? You have probably spent years defining your decorating decisions based on the needs of your children. It is time to look at your home with fresh eyes to decide how to make it fit your new needs and wants moving forward.


This is often the most emotional step after becoming an Empty Nester. Take it at a pace that is comfortable for you, going room by room to purge closets and get rid of things that no longer serve a purpose. Create a keepsake box that you can send along with your kids to their new homes and keep a keepsake box for yourself if there are things you are not ready to part with.

Take a good look at the items in each room. What items will you still use? What things do you still love and want to keep? Everything else can be sold or donated. If you need ideas to help you decide what items you could move out the door, CLICK HERE.


When you are busy raising kids, there never seems to be enough time to tackle the renovations you have wanted to make. Now you can transform your home to meet your needs while also creating more resale value for the future. Kitchens and bathrooms are the best places to spend renovation money.


Now that the backyard no longer needs to function as a playground, you can transform it into an outdoor retreat. Add an outdoor kitchen for entertaining, hang a swing to relax in the shade, and add the landscaping you avoided when your kids were kicking a ball around the yard.


Now that you have empty bedrooms in your home, think about how you want to live in your home going forward. Perhaps you want an exercise room, a hobby or craft room, or a luxurious guest room. Find inspiration on great sites like Houzz, Amber Interiors, and of course, Pinterest.


Our large spaces were great areas where the kids and their friends could gather to build forts, eat pizza, and play games. One or two adults will not use a large space the way you did when kids were always around. Add a coffee bar, a wine cabinet, or a bistro area. Trade your sectional for a cozy sofa for cuddling your partner.

If you get stuck or struggle with rethinking your home without kids, consider a professional organizer. We recommend Caitlyn Estes with Project Genesis.

About Fountain Hills

Pet-Friendly Fountain Hills

Fountain Hills residents love their pets! And our community makes it easy to happily own them.

The best way to find a new pet to bring into your family is through adoption. Cat lovers will fall in love with all the felines at Fearless Kitty, a rescue organization located on Avenue of the Fountains. If you are a dog person, Rescue Pals operates in cooperation with Pal’s Inn Pet Resort on Saguaro Blvd. in front of Desert Vista Park.

Pal’s Inn Pet Resort offers boarding and daycare to accommodate your busy lifestyle or travel plans. They also have grooming services and training classes, both group and private. Boarding is available for dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, and more. You can also purchase food, toys, and other retail items to make your life with your pet more convenient and enjoyable.

Our community has no shortage of veterinarians. These include El Dorado Animal Hospital, Fountain Hills Veterinary Hospital, Friendship Pet Hospital, and Palisades Veterinary Hospital.

If you lack a backyard, but Fido needs a place to run off his daily allotment of energy, check out the Desert Vista Dog Park at 11800 N. Desert Vista. This is one of the Town’s most used amenities. The park is a 3-acre fenced facility that is divided into two areas, one for larger dogs and the other for smaller ones. Dogs can run off-leash here.

And as a community that really cares, dog-loving individuals have formed their own group called Fountain Hills Lost Pets. They organize their efforts through a Facebook group and have successfully reunited many lost pets with their owners. Pal’s Inn also helps with these lost pets who need a place to stay for the night.

About Fountain Hills

21 Things to Do With Out of Town Guests

You are having out-of-town guests for a few days and you want to give them a feel for living in the Fountain Hills area. What can you do with them?

There is no reason to be stumped on this one. Fountain Hills and the surrounding area is full of things to do that will appeal to all ages, activity levels, and interests. Here’s our roundup of the best things to do so your guests have a great time and discover why you love living here.

  1. Visit the fountain. A no-brainer for photo opportunities and a leisurely walk.
  2. Golf. Choose from public courses in Fountain Hills, the Verdes, and Fort McDowell.
  3. Hike. Try the Desert Botanical Trail, Lake Overlook Trail, Dixie Mine, or Adero Canyon.
  4. Mountain biking. Rent a mountain and take a ride in McDowell Mountain Park.
  5. Horseback riding. Offered through Fort McDowell Adventures or Saguaro Lake Ranch Stables.
  6. Disc golf. Get gear from Fountain Hills Express or Paul’s Ace Hardware and head to Fountain Park.
  7. Saguaro Lake. Rent a boat or tour with Desert Belle Cruises.
  8. Attend a Star Party. ADERO Scottsdale offers these outside their amazing new restaurant, Cielo.
  9. River of Time Museum. Although closed at this time, keep this one on your list for discovering local history.
  10. Visit an art gallery. Choose from numerous art galleries that serve our local artists.
  11. Art Walk Tour. Take a free docent-led tour of more than 150 pieces of public art.
  12. Get a drink. Try out local watering holes at Grapeables, Aguamenti, or Bone Haus Brewing.
  13. Enjoy fountain and mountain view dining. Visit a downtown restaurant or a local golf club.
  14. Chocofin Chocolatier. Indulge in fine chocolates and delicious ice cream.
  15. Sami Fine Jewelry. Discover custom amethyst designs from the Four Peaks mine.
  16. Fort McDowell Casino. Play, eat, and stay the night at the newly expanded We-Ko-Pa.
  17. Take a Jeep tour. See the desert Desert Dog Offroad Adventures or Arizona Private Jeep Excursions.
  18. Take the kids to the park. We have four parks with great playgrounds.
  19. Fountain Hills Theater. Delight guests of all ages at our award-winning theater.
  20. Attend a car show. Every Sunday at Phil’s Filling Station.
  21. Events on the Avenue. You’ll find a farmer’s market, Art on the Avenue, and other seasonal events.

With so many great activities to choose from, your guests will discover right away why you love Fountain Hills.

Real Estate

15104 E. Sundown Drive

This Southwest-style home at 15104 E. Sundown Drive has big mountain views and plenty of room for entertaining.

15104 E. Sundown Drive

The charming courtyard entry with a beautiful art glass entry door beckons you into this single-level home with very few steps. The open concept brings together the great room, kitchen, and multiple dining options.

15104 E. Sundown Drive
15104 E. Sundown Drive

The home has two gas fireplaces in the great room and on the outside covered patio.

15104 E. Sundown Drive

The spacious kitchen is the true heart of the home with a cozy nook, wine bar, and entertainment center. The granite island houses the 5-burner GE cooktop with pendant lighting. Other appliances include a GE Monogram refrigerator with wood panel front, two wall-mounted GE ovens, a microwave/convection oven, a warming drawer, and a GE wood-paneled dishwasher.

15104 E. Sundown Drive

The kitchen is finished with granite counters and solid hardwood cabinetry. The hospitality bar has two wine cabinets, a vegetable sink, and built-in media spaces.

15104 E. Sundown Drive

The sunny breakfast nook has gorgeous views of the Mazatzal Mountains and the McDowell Mountains. The 60-in sliding glass door leads to a covered patio and outdoor cooking space.

The primary bedroom suite has an exit to a patio with beautiful views. The bath features a Jacuzzi walk-in jetted tub, a walk-in shower, dual vanities, a sit-down counter, and a private Toto commode.

The first guest room is fully suited. It offers a hospitality bar with a half-size refrigerator and has a walk-out to the putting green and pool area.

The second guest room is also fully suited with a large closet.

Guest bathrooms feature hardwood cabinetry, solid surface counters, rainwater glass walk-in showers, and Kohler commodes.

The flex space or third guest bedroom can be a media center, office, workout area, or other valuable space.

15104 E. Sundown Drive

The backyard feels like a private resort, starting with the heated Pebble-finish pool and spa with spill-over and a rock water feature. The oversized patio is perfect for entertaining with a great outdoor cooking space. There is a built-in Turbo 4-burner gas grill with a pass-through, an outdoor gas fireplace, and a hospitality bar with a full-size refrigerator and automated roll-down door.

There is also a full bathroom and outdoor shower.

A putting green and a view fence backing to an open wash tops off the resort-like feel of this backyard.

CLICK HERE for a virtual tour, or call us at 480-837-1331 to schedule an in-person showing.

CLICK HERE to see more beautiful homes.

Home Management

Flushing Water Softener Resin from Your Pipes

Some homeowners in Fountain Hills like to use water softeners to make their water feel slick and to reduce mineral build-up. But water softeners can create problems and require regular maintenance to protect your water heater and pipes. One of the biggest problems shows up in the form of yellow resin beads.

What are these and how do they get there?

Your water softener has resin beads inside a brine tank that do all the work. These beads need to be cleaned every few weeks and that is where the salt pellets that you add come in. The softener uses the sodium in a cleaning process that takes place at night while you sleep to regenerate the beads for continued use.

These non-toxic beads of resin are made of polystyrene, also known as “ion exchange resin beads”. They are incredibly tiny, measuring only 0.3 to 1.2 mm in size. You may be familiar with polystyrene in its foam form, something we call Styrofoam.

We will spare you the technical description of how it works to soften your water, but suffice it to say that over time, these beads sustain damage and break down, or the membrane that holds them becomes damaged. These membranes do not last forever. When this happens, they escape their holding tank and leak into your pipes.

You may not even be aware of the resin build-up in your plumbing, although you would know for sure if there is a reduction in your water pressure or you find tiny yellow beads in your toilet, sink, or bathtub.

If you suspect resin build-up, your plumbing system will need to be flushed. The first thing you should do is put your water softener into Bypass Mode to prevent water from running through it and dragging more resin in to your pipes. Next, we recommend that you hire a professional plumber to flush out your plumbing system.

For Fountain Hills and Verdes residents, we recommend Aqua Pro. You can call them at 480-837-2229.


Local Businesses

Amethyst: February Birthstone

February’s beautiful purple birthstone has been celebrated by civilizations since 25,000 BCE. The word amethyst comes from the Greek, meaning “not intoxicated”, a reference to the belief that the stone protects its owner from drunkenness. Since drunken behavior is associated with a muddy mind, high emotions, and clumsy decisions, amethyst is viewed as an antidote, promoting clear thinking, deep contemplation, and emotional stability.

Amethyst is mined in locations all over the world, including the Mazatzal Mountains to the east of Fountain Hills where amethyst arrowheads have been found. Spaniards found the deposit in the Four Peaks area in the 18th century and shipped large amounts to their homeland. From there, the gems found their way into the crown jewels of five countries.

The Four Peaks Mine is on 23 acres of private land, surrounded by a National Forest. It is located between the two southern-most peaks and can be viewed with binoculars or a telescope in the afternoons. The only way to get there is by a 4.5-mile hike or helicopter.

Cecile Storer and her husband purchased the mine in 1963 and she operated the House of Amethyst store in Fountain Hills for years. She donated the largest known amethyst specimen in North America to the River of Time Museum, weighing an estimated 500 pounds.

Sami Jack of Sami Fine Jewelry started working with mine owner Kurt Cavano when he bought it in 1994. Her store has earned a reputation for selling the finest amethyst in all of Arizona.

“The amethyst from this mine rivals Siberian amethyst, which is considered the standard of the gem trade,” says Sami. “When I look at Four Peaks, I think of the famous lyrics, ‘purple mountain majesties’.”

Before the Bush Fire burned it in 2020, Sami’s offered annual tours of the mine. Visitors arrived by helicopter where they had million-dollar views of the Lower Verde River Valley and the entire Valley of the Sun. They also bring miners into the store for events where they talk about this semiprecious stone.

You can learn more about Four Peaks amethyst and the history of the mine at Visit the store at 16704 E. Avenue of the Fountains #101.

Real Estate

How Does Your Credit Score Impact Your Mortgage?

When it comes to buying a home, your credit score does three main things: it determines whether you are eligible for a home loan, what kind of loan you can get, and what interest rate you will pay for that loan.


Your credit score is a number that depicts your creditworthiness. The higher the score, the better. While there are multiple factors that determine that number, some of those factors include the number of open accounts, total debt level, and repayment history. Lenders want to know your credit score to evaluate the probability that you will repay your loans in a timely manner.

Your credit score will fall between 300, the lowest, and 850, the highest.


You do not need a perfect 850 to get the best mortgage rates, but there are some score requirements if you need to finance a home.

To qualify for the best interest rates, you should aim to have a credit score of 760 or higher. But different types of loans and different lenders have varying requirements.

The following requirements use estimates from FICO, the most popular credit reporting agency.

CONVENTIONAL LOAN– minimum score of 620

These loans are not insured by a government agency, but they follow standards set by government-sponsored mortgage companies (Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac). Many homebuyers find these loans to be more affordable. Down payment requirements will vary.

JUMBO LOAN– minimum score of 680

A jumbo loan exceeds the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s maximum loan amount limits and are not insured by the government. This means that lenders take on greater risk when granting them if you default on your payments. As a result, a higher credit score is required. Down payment requirements vary.

FHA LOAN– minimum score is 500 (with 10% down) or 580 (with 3.5% down)

These loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration. They are a great option for borrowers who have lower credit scores and less to contribute toward a down payment. If you have a higher credit score, a smaller down payment is required. However, if your down payment is less than 20%, lenders are likely to require primary mortgage insurance (PMI) to reduce their risk if you default on your payments.

VA LOAN– no official credit score requirement

A VA (Veteran Affairs) loan is created for eligible members of the military and their spouses. It is insured by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. It does not require a down payment, but most lenders want to see a minimum credit score of 620.

USDA LOAN– no official credit score requirement

These loans were designed for low- to moderate-income home buyers. They are insured by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and do not require a down payment. Although there is not an official credit score requirement, most lenders will require a score of 640 or higher.

Before you decide to buy a home, examine your credit score, and get your free annual credit report at Give yourself time to address your credit issues before you apply for a mortgage. CLICK HERE to use a Loan Comparison Calculator to help you see how much a loan costs at varying interest rates.

Here are some quick tips to revive your credit score and improve your loan options:

  • Check your credit report and correct any errors.
  • Pay down credit card balances to below 30% of your credit limit.
  • Pay all your bills on time.
  • Do not close older credit lines after paying them off.
  • Do not open any new lines of credit or take out large loans.

You will not improve your credit score overnight, but you can raise it over time to position yourself for the best mortgage rate possible. Having a higher credit score can make a significant difference in the amount of money you pay over the course of a loan. Borrowers with high scores can save thousands of dollars in interest payments.