Best Hiking Trails Around Phoenix
January 31, 2017 - By Morgan Renyer
With the weather seeming to stay cool, why not head outside and enjoy it before the heat of the summer months rolls in! Arizona is lined with hundreds of beautiful hiking trails, but here are some of our favorites in and around the Phoenix area!
Camelback is a staple hike in the Phoenix area and has multiple trails for visitors to enjoy. It doesn’t matter how many times you hike up, the view at the top never gets old. Click here for location information and trail maps.
The Cholla Trail is the easier and more scenic route to take to the top, and is a must-do Phoenix hike. I use the word “easier” loosely, because this trail is still a tough hike but in comparison to the other side is easier for the average person! The hike
itself can get steep at times, and the last half mile involves a rock scramble, so be prepared with lots of water!
Cholla is 3.1 miles of pure beauty, the trail takes hikers up and down the mountain, allowing them to take in the breathtaking panoramic views of the valley. The trail is well marked and easy to follow, it can get steep at times and the last half mile involves a rock scramble, so it is important to be prepared with lots of water! It is recommended to go earlier in the morning to try to avoid the large crowds that tend to accumulate along the trail!
You will experience the beautiful views of the Phoenix valley while breaking a nice sweat! There are wonderful places to stop along the way for photos and you will definitely feel a sense of accomplishment once you make it to the top. Parking may be difficult since it is a very popular hike, so plan in extra time to find a spot!
Freedom Trail – Phoenix Mountains
Previously known as the Circumference Trail, Freedom trail #302, offers a 3.8 mile loop of “freedom” from other crowded trails in Phoenix, like the nearby Piestewa Peak Trail. Most hikers prefer to tackle the moderately difficult journey counterclockwise, since it is the more gradual way up. Along the trail, there are strategic lookout points with benches and a plethora of natural desert landscape to enjoy, to take this route go strait at the trailhead sign and hike on up.
The elevation ranges from 2,102 ft. – 1,400 ft.. At about 2.75 miles the trail joins with the summer trail but reconnects with 302 for the final downhill loop. If you have a four-legged furry friend you don’t want to leave behind, dogs are allowed on leashes on the freedom trail, but the Freedom trail only. As soon as you hit the junction with the Summit Trail you have to turn around.
If you get lost or need help finding your way, visit this website for a map and more information, make sure to look for trail #302!
Piestewa Peak – Phoenix Mountains
Previously known as Squaw Peak, Piestewa Peak is about a 1 mile, 1,100 foot climb to the summit that offers beautiful 360-degree views of the valley. We like to refer to this trail as the “stair master”, the hike to the top of the second highest peak in the valley next to Camelback may be short but the incline is steep and is a great workout! If you are looking for a short but rewarding and beautiful hike Piestewa is the place for you!
It is located near the Biltmore area, in the Phoenix Mountains and temporarily intersects with the Freedom Trail. When you reach the top, pick a rock to take a stop at, relax and enjoy the view! Some hikers enjoy taking the journey later in the day so they can experience the sunset from the top. Whether you go in the morning or later in the afternoon, this short hike is a must do!
Parking may be a challenge, it has seemed to improve recently but still plan accordingly time wise to look for a spot. If the sunset is what draws you in, it is important to be aware of the fact that the parking below closes at 7pm, so you may need to find alternative parking.
For more information and maps visit this website.
Siphon Draw Trail – Superstition Mountains
This hike takes you through miles of mixed terrain to the top of Flatiron summit. Along the trail, hikers experience beautiful views from rocky canyons to desert slick rock. Depending on the time of year, the trails could have waterfalls running thorough the slick rock basin, which is hard to find in Arizona!
The hike starts at Lost Dutchman State Park in Apache Junction and is fairly easy to follow until Siphon Draw trails off. If you are feeling adventurous, continue for a mile to the top of Flatiron summit! Due to the popularity there is a worn trail that is pretty easy to follow, it is highly recommended to continue to the top, because the views are amazing!
Round trip the hike is around 4 miles if you decide to stop and enjoy the basin and don’t go to the top of the summit! Making it a fairly short, easy hike that is great for avid and first time hikers as well as dogs!
For a map visit this website.
National Trail – South Mountain
The National Trail is the longest and most diverse trail In South Mountain Park. It is an 8.7 mile out and back trail that crosses South Mountain from the east to the west and offers beautiful views. The trial is primarily used for hiking and mountain biking, so hikers are warned to keep an eye out for speedy bikers if walking it!
The National Trail skirts the ridges of the park and passes Hidden Valley, Buena Vista Lookout, Chinese Wall, Telegraph Pass, Goat Hill, and ends at San Juan Lookout. The trail links up with multiple trails along the way, giving hikers the option to switch up their route if desired. Dogs are welcome to hike as well, as long as they are on leashes.
Visit this website for a trail map.
Tom’s Thumb Trail – McDowell Mountains
Tom’s Thumb is a 4 mile out and back located in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The iconic rock formation is visible from miles around. This hike is somewhat challenging, but not daunting and is fairly well marked with smooth trail surface. The views alone are worth the elevation climb.
There are different trails along the way, so hikers can make it as long or as short as they would like. Along the trail one may pass beautiful wildflowers as well as different wild life. When you reach the top, Tom’s Thumb, reward yourself with water and a snack and enjoy the views around you!
For more information and maps visit this website.
Quartz Peak – Estrella Mountains
If you are up for adventure this is the hike for you. This trail is little farther away in Buckeye, but is worth the mention! Quartz Peak Trail is a 5.6 mile hike that is recommended for more experienced hikers. It is steep and the final half mile up is boulder hopping, but it is definitely a hidden gem that gives you a view on the Estrella ridge.
Getting there is an adventure itself, be prepared with a 4 wheel drive/bigger vehicle if you are planning on tackling this climb. It may be difficult on the way up but once there you feel on top of the world! If you haven’t done this one yet, it is worthy!