Table of Contents Show
You can do lovely hikes around Phoenix while staying inside the city limits. Many well-known rock formations, including those at Papago Park, Camelback Mountain, and Pinnacle Peak, can be seen from high ridges that look out over the city.
You’re in luck if you need a getaway from the metropolis of Phoenix’s downtown and surroundings. You may find an astonishing variety of hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding paths to sate your wanderlust just a short distance outside the city boundaries (and occasionally right inside them).
You don’t need to travel very far to the Grand Canyon to witness Phoenix’s natural splendor, from interesting and unusual rock formations to the lovely desert flora and towering mountains! You can find a little of all this special place offers here in Phoenix.
These are some of the most well-liked places for hiking, but simple pathways that meander through the stunning Sonoran Desert scenery. It’s peaceful and amazing to walk among saguaros or blooming wildflowers. Ready to go hiking? Continue reading to learn the best hikes in Phoenix.
1. Best Hikes in Phoenix
Whether you live in the Phoenix area or are visiting to escape the winter and enjoy the pleasant weather, various outdoor activities are accessible.
Numerous routes provide breathtaking views of the state’s distinctive rock formations, the renowned saguaro cacti, and neighboring mountains. You can find all the details you need to find Phoenix’s best walks in our detailed guide to the area’s trails.
Then, when you consider Phoenix, the trek isn’t the first thing that springs to mind. Given the city’s well-known high temperatures, you might be tempted to spend as much time indoors, where it is air-conditioned, but doing so would cost you. You need to know where to go and how to approach Phoenix’s numerous excellent hiking paths.
1.1. Tom’s Thumb Trail
The Tom’s Thumb Trail hike appears challenging from the trailhead and the immediate surroundings. The mountain’s rough hillside seems severe, and Tom’s Thumb can be made out on the crest far above.
Once you begin navigating the switchbacks and get to a height where you can see far into the distance, it’s simple to become preoccupied with the scenery rather than your level of effort.
The spectacular view from the top and a close-up view of Tom’s Thumb make an effort worthwhile. Up here, there are also a few tiny caverns to explore. The elevation increases on this 4.2-mile trail, which may be done as an out-and-back, to around 1,000 feet.
You can combine this hike with the East End Loop to make a long journey that travels more than 11 miles and achieves at least twice as much elevation if you want to push yourself to the limit. To avoid the heat, be careful to depart early in the day. The trailhead has an overbuilt building with facilities, a huge covered outdoor area, and information.
1.2. Pinnacle Peak Trail
The Pinnacle Peak Trail is a popular, well-kept trail providing breathtaking North Scottsdale vistas.
One of the greatest treks in Phoenix for novices looking for something a little more difficult is this one; you’ll gain more than 1,000 feet of elevation for several miles. The trail’s highlight is the stunning desert wildflowers that bloom in March, April, and early May.
Nothing is more beautiful than the orange, yellow, purple, and pink blooming against the Arizona sky’s brilliant blue. These lovely wildflowers are a big reason everyone loves Phoenix in the spring.
This trail is wonderful for running, bird watching, family trekking, hiking, and enjoying the flowers. Unfortunately, dogs are not permitted on this walk. There are plenty of other fantastic walks you can take your dog on, so don’t worry!
1.3. Gateway Loop Trail
The Gateway Loop Hike, a well-liked and easy hike in the McDowell Mountains’ South Region, may be reached from the Gateway Trailhead. You can reach the Gateway Loop Trail from the parking lot by walking the 0.3-mile Saguaro Trail.
If you want to learn more about the Sonoran Desert, try out this guided mountain biking tour! Due to its level terrain, this route is one of Phoenix’s best mountain biking paths. On this hike, dogs are permitted as well. When we took Sedona, our golden retriever puppy, she made many animal friends.
1.4. Mormon Loop Trail
The Mormon Trail or the longer hike, the Mormon Loop Trail, are two other accessible city hikes. The Mormon Trail is a 1.2-mile, round-trip hike with an elevation of about 700 feet.
Starting from the parking area, the trail progressively ascends to a ridge. As you walk up, you’ll see some of Phoenix’s most recognizable natural landmarks, such as Piestewa Peak, the Camelback Mountain that everyone knows and loves, and the rock buttes of Papago Park.
The Mormon Loop Trail connects with the Mormon Trail. Some saguaro, ocotillo, and other desert vegetation can be seen at higher altitudes. Of course, there are stunning city vistas and the Superstition Mountains beyond.
1.5. Wind Cave Trail
The Wind Cave Trail route, which can be found beyond Mesa on the northern limits of the Phoenix area, provides breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.
This hiking trail offers a satisfying reward for moderate effort. A little cave at the trail’s finish is a bonus. You can see the trail winding its way up the granite face in front of you from the trailhead. After a fairly easy start, it steadily becomes more challenging until you reach the cave at the finish.
After a sweltering trek up, roughly 12 feet high, the cave is a welcome rest area with shade. The elevation gain on this 2.6-mile in-and-out trail is 770 feet. Usery Regional Park is home to the trailhead.
1.6. Echo Canyon Trail
From any location in Scottsdale, Camelback Mountain, a famous landmark in the Phoenix area, may rise in the distance. If you’re the kind of person who finds climbing mountains pleasant, the Echo Canyon Trail is one of the greatest hikes in Phoenix because of its handy position just outside the city.
The Echo Canyon Trail is a challenging hike despite its short distance. It is a demanding and heart-pounding exercise because you must climb 1,200 feet in just 2 kilometers. Before beginning, ensure you have some prior expertise with desert hiking and have more than enough water.
1.7. Piestewa Peak Summit Trail, Phoenix Mountains Preserve
Are you searching for a satisfying challenge? One of the best walks in Phoenix is the Piestewa Mountain Summit Trail, which leads to the second-highest peak in Phoenix Mountain.
The best way to describe ascending Piestewa Peak (formerly known as Squaw Peak) is as a flight of stairs that never end. Until you reach the top, there are a lot of switchbacks, stairs, and rock climbing.
This hike is not for the timid of the heart, despite the breathtaking views of Phoenix. After reaching the summit, there are several places to sit to relax and collect your breath.
Experienced hikers should only attempt this trek, and dogs are not permitted (for a good cause). Wear traction-enhancing footwear, such as hiking boots or tennis shoes, and carry lots of water. This is one of the best Phoenix hiking trails.
1.8. Dixie Mountain Loop
One of the greatest treks in Phoenix for those seeking a trail free of crowds is the Dixie Mountain Loop. The Sonoran Preserve is home to dozens of walks, many of which can be found in North Phoenix.
There are three trailheads in this mountain range, including the Desert Vista Trailhead. The additional trailheads go by Apache Wash Trailhead and Desert Hills Trailhead.
Although it’s a lengthy hike, it’s relatively easy and is a dog-friendly track. Climb the Dixie Mountain Summit when you come across it on the trail if you’re seeking a challenge along the trip. This is one of the best Phoenix hikes.
During the 0.2-mile summit, you’ll gain approximately 700 feet and enjoy stunning vistas. Keep looking for the old, rusted Jeep frame you’ll pass toward the loop’s conclusion. One of the interesting things to see on this walk is that!
1.9. Superstition Mountains
The Superstition Mountains are a group of mountains to the east of Phoenix that is part of the Superstition Wilderness and provides a variety of paths for all levels of hikers.
Over 160,000 acres of mountains comprise the Superstition Wilderness, a fantastic location for trekking, fishing, and horseback riding.
The Treasure Loop Trail, excellent for novices, is one of the routes found amid the mountains, while the Siphon Draw Trail proves to be a little more difficult.
1.10. Lost Dutchman State Park Trails
The trails at Lost Dutchman, near the Phoenix metropolitan area, should not be missed. About 40 miles from Phoenix, The Lost Dutchman State Park is a well-liked destination for residents.
The “Lost Goldmine Fable,” a legend that claims a man concealed riches in the Superstition Mountains in the 1800s, inspired the park’s name. Everyone can enjoy the beautiful desert scenery thanks to the range of easy-to-difficult trails offered here.
The easy out-and-back Native Plant Trail is a hike suitable for families and wheelchair users. It offers a modest elevation gain and can easily be finished in 30 minutes.
The Prospector’s View Trail, a moderate climb with an elevation increase of around 505 feet, is recommended for those seeking a greater challenge. Jacob’s Crosscut Trail and Discovery Trail are two additional paths available here.
1.11. Quartz Ridge Trail
The Quartz Ridge Trail is a well-liked option for many because of its enormous boulders and quartz stones that line your path.
You have the option of continuing on another trail within the Phoenix Mountain Preserve after finishing this 1.8-mile trip. Generally, level terrain characterizes the first part of the trip, although the second half involves a moderate ascent.
With a gain in the height of roughly 780 feet, this trail is intermediate in difficulty. Despite being well-liked, this short out-and-back trail has small parking, making parking challenging, particularly when it’s busy.
1.12. Double Butte Loop Trail
The 2.3-mile Double Butte Loop Trail in Papago Park winds around two striking buttes. This trek is perfect for people of all ability levels because you only gain 50 feet in height, making it more like a protracted, beautiful walk.
The fact that this trail is level and partially paved makes it one of the best mountain biking trails in Phoenix. Dogs and kids can easily complete this trip as well.
This trail’s lack of bathrooms and poor signage are two things to keep in mind. You can use the restroom before you arrive and carry this trail map to help you navigate the mountain.
1.13. South Mountain
The easy hike up South Mountain lies south of Phoenix. South Mountain has more than 58 paths that provide breathtaking views over Phoenix.
An unforgettable way to explore Arizona’s nature is hiking in Phoenix. One of the top Phoenix local attractions, South Mountain, is a free walk that is nevertheless regarded by many as excellent. This is a hike that you should not skip if you appreciate them.
1.14. Sunrise Trail
The Sunrise Trail is a 4.8-mile point-to-point trail. It offers several opportunities to see wildlife and is near Fountain Hills. It is classified as a moderate trail challenge and is accessible year-round.
Due to its quick elevation climb, the ST is quite difficult. Locals frequently use its steep slopes as “training” for some higher peaks. Bring your hiking poles, and don’t undervalue the challenge, especially on hot days! This is one of the best hiking trails in Phoenix.
1.15. Superstition Ridgeline Trail
It takes 8 to 10 hours to complete the Superstition Ridgeline Trail, which traverses Lost Dutchman State Park. If you can withstand its length, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning hike into the untamed nature of Superstition.
The Superstition Mountains are seen in the distance, while cacti, bushes, and other spiky native plants along the slender dirt route. Although most of the terrain is very level, a few challenging sections call for some scrambling.
1.16. Siphon Draw Trail
It takes a quad-busting hike to reach the Flatiron’s peak via the Siphon Draw Trail.
This one is not for the weak of heart as it will present you with several difficulties, including a 2,700-foot elevation rise and numerous rock scrambles. Since some of the trail’s portions are fairly technical, suitable hiking footwear and equipment are essential.
Within Lost Dutchman State Park lies Siphon Draw. As you ascend, the Flatiron Cliff, your target, will become visible in the distance. Don’t be deceived by the wide, well-maintained trail at the beginning of the walk; once you get to the basin, things quickly become less cozy.
1.17. Massacre Falls Trail
You probably didn’t anticipate discovering a waterfall trail in the middle of the desert. Well, reconsider! An easy climb through the Superstition Mountains leads to a waterfall at the edge of a cliff on the Massacre Falls Trail.
Despite its terrible reputation, the region is full of interesting legends; this specific road is thought to have been the scene of the murder of gold miners by native people in the mid-1800s.
You will be able to enjoy beautiful views of the rock formations in the Superstition Mountains in addition to experiencing the mystery and grandeur of this state park. Try to take this trek in the spring or after a rainy day to increase your chances of witnessing a greater waterfall.
1.18. Holbert Trail
The Holbert Trail is ideal if you want to take on a fun challenge rewarded with breathtaking scenery.
This trail near Phoenix lies in the South Mountain Preserve and is a short distance from the city center, making it a well-liked local trail. You can have the trails to yourself if you start the hike early. You’ll pass by historical ruins, incredible rock formations, and breathtaking sunrise and sunset vistas.
1.19. Granite Mountain Loop Trail
If you want an excursion in Phoenix that has it all, the Granite Mountain Loop in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve is the right approach.
There are routes in this diverse region that take you to amazing rock formations, interesting desert vegetation, and spectacular mountain and landscape views. The Granite Mountain Loop has well-maintained trails with modest elevation change, making it appropriate for hikers of all skill levels.
Even though it’s a short hike, it’s over 5 miles, so it’s advisable to allow yourself at least half a day and avoid the mid-afternoon sun.
1.20. Skull Mesa Trail
For those who prefer to spend more time outside, the Skull Mesa Trail is an excellent one-day excursion. You’ll cross creeks on various terrain, meander through forests, and ascend a rocky path to the summit.
It is not a venture for the weak of heart, for sure! If you start this trip early in the morning, you might spot some native animals, including javelina, foxes, or quails. The peaks of the surrounding mountains also provide stunning views.
2. Things to Know About Hiking Around Phoenix
Phoenix offers several hiking opportunities, and the trails are designated. You must take these safety precautions and be aware of the weather in Phoenix.
On this list, there is a hike for every fitness level and every person. Additionally, remember that it is hot and dry all year long, and be sure you are prepared before you begin. Bring a reusable bottle and lots of water with you! Remember that you must drink a lot of water when in the sun.
2.1. Examine the Weather
There are often days that are over 100 degrees. Phoenix also has a lot of air pollution, which can make the city oppressive. Ensure that you check.
2.2. Sandals or Boots for Hiking
In certain circumstances, such as grassy slopes where a lot of ground needs to be covered, hiking boots can also be useful for hunting. For rocky terrain, hiking boots are better than decent for concrete. Perhaps more appropriate for concrete and smoother routes are hiking shoes.
2.3. Put on a Sunhat
Although it seems like the entire post is about how high in the mountains you are and how much closer you are to the sun, it is very accurate. You are more at risk of burning when you are higher up. Use sun protection measures like sunscreen and a sun cap.
2.4. Keep an Eye Out for Wildlife
Since you’re in the Southwest, watch for snakes and other animals like moose or bears. Please do not approach or feed any wildlife. Additionally, I advise packing bear spray.
2.5. Leave No Trace
If you’re unfamiliar with the phrase “Leave No Trace,” it refers to protecting the environment so that it will be there when you leave it, if not in better shape. This implies that you should stay on the trails and take everything you brought.
3. Final Thoughts
Whether you live in the Phoenix area or are visiting to escape the winter and take advantage of the great weather, there is a ton of recreational access.
One of our favorite things in Phoenix is hiking on one of the city’s many beautiful trails. Numerous routes provide breathtaking views of the state’s distinctive rock formations, the renowned saguaro cacti, and the adjacent mountains.
If you’re seeking the best walks in Phoenix, our exhaustive directory of nearby trails has all the details you need—Arizona’s immense natural beauty by exploring it on foot. Pick one of our top 20 hikes in Phoenix, Arizona, and start your journey there with your hiking boots.
No matter where the trails lead you, just be careful to practice sun safety and have enough water to protect yourself from the harsh environment of the desert.