Best Hiking Trails in Phoenix

Phoenix midtown skyline with a Saguaro Cactus and other desert scenery in the foreground
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Phoenix, Arizona is a hiker’s paradise with its beautiful desert landscape and numerous trails for all skill levels. From the challenging and steep climbs of Camelback Mountain and Piestewa Peak, to the moderate hikes of North Mountain and Peralta Trail, to the easier hikes of Shaw Butte and Hieroglyphic Trail, there is something for everyone. Phoenix’s hiking trails offer stunning views of the city skyline and surrounding mountain ranges, making it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. In this article, we’ll explore the top 10 hiking trails in Phoenix and their unique features, including trail length, difficulty level, elevation gain, and trailheads. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just starting out, these hiking trails will give you a taste of what Phoenix has to offer.



Camelback Mountain

Trail Length: 2.4 Miles Roundtrip | Difficulty Level: Difficult | Elevation Gain: 1,300 Feet | Trailhead: Echo Canyon Trailhead

Camelback Mountain is one of the most popular and iconic hiking trails in Phoenix, Arizona. The 2.4-mile roundtrip trail takes hikers up steep inclines, over rocky terrain, and offers stunning views of the city skyline. This difficult hike is not for the faint of heart, but those who complete it are rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views at the summit.

Reasons To Hike Camelback Mountain:

  • Breathtaking Views: At the summit, hikers are rewarded with stunning panoramic views of the city skyline and surrounding mountain ranges.
  • Iconic Trail: Camelback Mountain is one of the most popular and recognizable hiking trails in Phoenix, making it a must-do for locals and visitors alike.
  • Physical Challenge: The steep inclines, rocky terrain, and intense workout make Camelback Mountain a challenging and rewarding hike.
  • Wildlife Sightings: Hikers may spot a variety of desert wildlife, including rattlesnakes, lizards, and various bird species.
  • Proximity to Downtown: Camelback Mountain is conveniently located near downtown Phoenix, making it easily accessible for those looking to escape the city and get a workout in nature.

Recommended Gear: Hydration Pack, Hiking Boots, Sunscreen, Hat, Sunglasses, Snacks, First Aid Kit


Piestewa Peak Summit Trail

Trail Length: 2.4 Miles Roundtrip | Difficulty Level: Difficult | Elevation Gain: 1,200 Feet | Trailhead: Piestewa Peak Trailhead

Piestewa Peak Summit Trail is a popular hiking trail located in Phoenix, Arizona. The 2.4-mile roundtrip trail takes hikers up a steep incline and over rocky terrain, offering stunning views of the city below. This challenging hike is named after Lori Piestewa, a Native American soldier who was the first woman killed in combat in Iraq.

Reasons To Hike Piestewa Peak Summit Trail:

  • Breathtaking Views: At the summit, hikers are rewarded with stunning panoramic views of the city and surrounding desert landscape.
  • Challenging Workout: The steep inclines, rocky terrain, and intense workout make Piestewa Peak Summit Trail a challenging and rewarding hike.
  • Historical Significance: The trail is named after Lori Piestewa, a Native American soldier who was the first woman killed in combat in Iraq, making it a tribute to her legacy and bravery.
  • Convenient Location: Piestewa Peak Summit Trail is conveniently located in the heart of Phoenix, making it easily accessible for locals and visitors alike.
  • Wildlife Sightings: Hikers may spot a variety of desert wildlife, including lizards, birds, and small mammals, along the trail.

Recommended Gear: Hydration Pack, Hiking Boots, Sunscreen, Hat, Sunglasses, Snacks, Trekking Poles


Echo Canyon Trail

Trail Length: 2.4 Miles Roundtrip | Difficulty Level: Difficult | Elevation Gain: 1,400 Feet | Trailhead: Echo Canyon Trailhead

Echo Canyon Trail is a popular hiking trail located in Phoenix, Arizona. The 1.2-mile trail takes hikers up steep inclines, over rocky terrain, and offers stunning views of the surrounding desert landscape. This challenging hike culminates in a climb up a series of metal railings, leading to a 360-degree panoramic view at the summit.

Reasons To Hike Echo Canyon Trail:

  • Thrilling Climb: The steep inclines, rocky terrain, and metal railing climb make Echo Canyon Trail a thrilling and unforgettable hiking experience.
  • 360-Degree Views: At the summit, hikers are rewarded with stunning 360-degree panoramic views of the city and surrounding desert landscape.
  • Iconic Landmark: Echo Canyon Trail leads to the summit of Camelback Mountain, one of the most iconic landmarks in Phoenix.
  • Convenient Location: Echo Canyon Trail is located in the heart of Phoenix, making it easily accessible for locals and visitors alike.
  • Physical Challenge: Echo Canyon Trail provides a challenging workout, testing the physical limits of hikers with its steep inclines and rocky terrain.

Recommended Gear: Hydration Pack, Hiking Boots, Gloves, Sunscreen, Hat, Sunglasses, Snacks


South Mountain Preserve

Trail Length: Varies based on Trail Chosen | Difficulty Level: Varies| Elevation Gain: Varies | Trailhead: Multiple Trailheads Throughout the Park

South Mountain Preserve is the largest municipal park in Phoenix, Arizona, covering over 16,000 acres of beautiful desert landscape. The park features over 50 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding, making it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts of all levels. With its stunning views, diverse wildlife, and endless recreational opportunities, South Mountain Preserve is a must-visit for anyone in the Phoenix area.

Reasons To Hike South Mountain Preserve:

  • Diverse Trails: With over 50 miles of trails, South Mountain Preserve offers a wide variety of hiking options, from easy strolls to challenging treks.
  • Breathtaking Views: The park’s trails offer stunning panoramic views of the surrounding desert landscape, with plenty of opportunities to spot local wildlife along the way.
  • Convenient Location: Located just a few miles south of downtown Phoenix, South Mountain Preserve is easily accessible for both locals and visitors.
  • Endless Recreation: In addition to hiking, the park also offers mountain biking, horseback riding, picnicking, and more, making it a versatile destination for outdoor recreation.
  • Historical Significance: South Mountain Preserve is home to a number of ancient petroglyphs and other cultural landmarks, providing a unique glimpse into the area’s rich history and culture.

Recommended Gear: Hiking Boots, Sunscreen, Hat, Sunglasses, Hydration Pack, Trail Map, Snacks


North Mountain Summit Trail

Trail Length: 2.0 Miles Roundtrip | Difficulty Level: Moderate | Elevation Gain: 680 Feet | Trailhead: North Mountain Visitor Center

North Mountain Summit Trail is a popular hiking destination located in the heart of Phoenix, Arizona. With a peak elevation of 2,104 feet, the trail offers spectacular panoramic views of the city and surrounding desert landscape. Hikers of all levels can enjoy this trail, as it features well-maintained switchbacks and plenty of scenic lookout points along the way.

Reasons To Hike North Mountain Summit Trail:

  • Stunning Views: The trail offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding desert landscape and the city skyline, making it a great spot for taking photos.
  • Convenient Location: Located just a few miles north of downtown Phoenix, the trail is easily accessible and a great option for a quick hike after work or on weekends.
  • Varied Terrain: The trail features a mix of flat sections and steep inclines, providing a good workout and variety for hikers.
  • Well-Maintained Trail: The trail is well-marked and maintained, making it easy to follow and navigate for hikers of all skill levels.
  • Local Wildlife: Hikers may have the chance to spot local wildlife such as desert tortoises, jackrabbits, and various species of birds along the trail.

Recommended Gear: Hiking Shoes, Sunscreen, Water Bottle, Hat, Snacks, Sunglasses, First Aid Kit


Peralta Trail

Trail Length: 5.8 Miles Roundtrip | Difficulty Level: Moderate | Elevation Gain: 1,460 Feet | Trailhead: Peralta Trailhead

The Peralta Trail is a popular hiking destination located in the Superstition Mountains near Phoenix, Arizona. This scenic trail offers stunning views of the surrounding Sonoran Desert landscape, including towering saguaro cacti and unique rock formations. With a roundtrip distance of 5.8 miles and an elevation gain of over 1,400 feet, the Peralta Trail is a challenging but rewarding hike for experienced hikers.

Reasons To Hike Peralta Trail:

  • Breathtaking Views: The Peralta Trail offers some of the most stunning views of the Sonoran Desert and Superstition Mountains.
  • Unique Rock Formations: Hikers can explore unique rock formations, such as the iconic Weaver’s Needle.
  • Wildlife Viewing: The area is home to diverse wildlife, including birds, reptiles, and small mammals.
  • Challenging Hike: With an elevation gain of over 1,400 feet, the Peralta Trail is a challenging hike that offers a great workout.
  • Historical Significance: The trail is named after the Peralta family, who were among the earliest settlers in the region and played a significant role in the history of the American Southwest.

Recommended Gear: Sturdy Hiking Boots, Daypack, Sunscreen, Hat, Water Bottles, Snacks, First Aid Kit


Hieroglyphic Trail

Trail Length: 3.0 miles roundtrip | Difficulty Level: Moderate | Elevation Gain: 650 feet | Trailhead: Hieroglyphic Trailhead

The Hieroglyphic Trail is a beautiful hiking trail located in the Superstition Wilderness, just outside of Phoenix. The trail is a moderate 3-mile roundtrip hike that leads to ancient petroglyphs. The petroglyphs are a popular attraction on this trail, as they offer hikers a glimpse into the lives of ancient civilizations that once lived in the area.

Reasons To Hike Hieroglyphic Trail:

  • Stunning Petroglyphs: The trail leads to ancient petroglyphs that showcase the history and culture of the region.
  • Beautiful Scenery: The trail offers amazing views of the Superstition Mountains and the surrounding desert landscape.
  • Waterfall: The trail culminates in a scenic waterfall that is particularly impressive after rainfall.
  • Family-Friendly: The trail is relatively easy and suitable for hikers of all ages and experience levels.
  • Wildlife: The trail offers opportunities to spot a variety of wildlife such as birds, reptiles, and small mammals.

Recommended Gear: Hiking Shoes, Sunscreen, Hat, Plenty of Water, Snacks, First Aid Kit, Trekking Poles


Tom’s Thumb Trail

Trail Length: 4.0 Miles Roundtrip | Difficulty Level: Moderate | Elevation Gain: 1,200 Feet | Trailhead: Tom’s Thumb Trailhead

Tom’s Thumb Trail is a popular hiking trail located in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona. The trail leads to a prominent granite formation known as Tom’s Thumb, offering stunning views of the surrounding Sonoran Desert landscape. With a moderate difficulty level and a variety of scenic vistas, Tom’s Thumb Trail is a favorite among hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Reasons To Hike Tom’s Thumb Trail:

  • Stunning Views: The trail offers breathtaking views of the Sonoran Desert and the surrounding mountains.
  • Challenging Hike: Tom’s Thumb Trail is a challenging hike, perfect for those looking for a strenuous workout and a test of their endurance.
  • Unique Rock Formations: The trail features unique rock formations, including the famous Tom’s Thumb spire, which is a popular landmark for hikers.
  • Diverse Wildlife: The trail is home to a variety of wildlife, including desert bighorn sheep, Gila monsters, and a wide range of bird species.
  • Year-Round Hiking: Tom’s Thumb Trail is open year-round, making it an ideal destination for hiking enthusiasts regardless of the season.

Recommended Gear: Hiking Shoes, Daypack, Water Bottles, Snacks, Sunscreen, Hat, Sunglasses


Lost Dog Wash Trail

Trail Length: 4.5 Miles Roundtrip | Difficulty Level: Moderate | Elevation Gain: 690 Feet | Trailhead: Lost Dog Wash Trailhead

Lost Dog Wash Trail is a picturesque hike that takes you through the scenic Sonoran Desert in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve near Scottsdale, Arizona. The trail offers stunning views of the McDowell Mountains and the valley below. With a moderate difficulty level, this trail is perfect for hikers of all skill levels who want to enjoy the beauty of the desert landscape.

Reasons To Hike Lost Dog Wash Trail:

  1. Beautiful Views: The trail offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and the city of Scottsdale.
  2. Varied Terrain: The trail has a mix of flat sections, moderate climbs, and rocky sections, making it a good challenge for hikers of all levels.
  3. Wildlife Sightings: The area is home to a variety of wildlife, including javelinas, bobcats, and various species of birds.
  4. Well-Maintained Trail: The trail is well-marked and maintained, making it easy to navigate and reducing the risk of getting lost.
  5. Accessible Location: Located in the heart of Scottsdale, the trail is easily accessible and offers a great escape from the city without having to travel too far.

Recommended Gear: Sunscreen, Hat, Hydration Pack, Trail Map, First Aid Kit, Snacks, Sunglasses


Sunrise Trail

Trail Length: 4.0 Miles Roundtrip | Difficulty Level: Moderate to Difficult | Elevation Gain: 1,300 Feet | Trailhead: Sunrise Trailhead

The Sunrise Trail is a scenic hiking trail located in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona. This popular trail offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, making it a must-do for nature enthusiasts and avid hikers alike. With its well-maintained trail and moderate level of difficulty, it’s a great option for those looking for a challenging but rewarding hike in the Sonoran Desert.

Reasons To Hike Sunrise Trail:

  • Breathtaking Views: The Sunrise Trail offers panoramic views of the McDowell Mountains and the surrounding Sonoran Desert.
  • Varied Terrain: This trail offers a variety of terrain, from rocky slopes to sandy washes, making it a fun and challenging hike.
  • Wildlife Viewing: Hikers on the Sunrise Trail have a chance to see a variety of wildlife, including desert tortoises, jackrabbits, and a variety of birds.
  • Well-Maintained Trail: The Sunrise Trail is well-maintained and easy to follow, with clear trail markers and informative signage along the way.
  • Convenient Location: The Sunrise Trailhead is conveniently located near Scottsdale, making it an easy destination for locals and visitors alike.

Recommended Gear: Hiking Boots, Sunscreen, Hydration Pack, Snacks, Hat, Sunglasses, First Aid Kit


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