15 Best Hikes in Phoenix, Arizona you won’t want to miss

15 Best Phoenix Hikes – Hiking near Phoenix to see more of the city

If you are planning a trip to Phoenix you need to do one of these best hikes in Phoenix.

best hikes phoenix

Hiking in Phoneix is not without its challenges between the heat and the chance of coming across a rattlesnake, but the views are definitely worth it if you decide to go hiking in Phoenix.

These Phoenix hiking trails are the best hikes in Phoenix so I recommend choosing at least one on your visit.  If you are a veteran to hiking in Phoenix then I hope you find a new trail to go on while you are there.

Before we get started on the best hikes near Phoenix, do read the ‘Things to know before you go’ section at the end for practical tips and tricks so you can enjoy these Phoenix area hikes.

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Phoenix Arizona Hiking – the best Phoenix Hikes

Grab your water bottle and put on your hiking shoes – let’s get ready to hike in Phoenix.

1. Tom’s Thumb Trail

Begin on a scenic 4-mile adventure to Tom’s Thumb Trail, a true jewel tucked near Scottsdale. This trail is more than just a hike; it’s a journey through a breathtaking landscape.

As you start the ascent, the path welcomes you with a colorful array of wildflowers. The way the early morning light dances on the McDowell Mountains is a sight I always find mesmerizing.

phoenix area hikes

One of my most cherished memories here involves a peaceful early morning hike. The tranquility, broken only by the chirping of birds, made me feel deeply connected to nature. The trail is part of the McDowell Sonoran Conservatory, showcasing Arizona’s commitment to preserving its natural beauty.

Remember to pack plenty of water. This trail, while invigorating, can be quite a workout, especially during summer months. The absence of water stations along the way reminds us of the ruggedness of nature.

As you trek further, you’ll encounter Sven Slab and Mesquite Canyon, but the real showstopper is the ancient granite formations known as “Tom’s Thumb.”

These towering rocks, over 1.4 billion years old, are not just a visual treat but a window into the earth’s past.

Dog owners, rejoice! Your furry friends are welcome here, provided they are on a leash. This trail is a testament to how we can enjoy nature responsibly, keeping in mind the delicate balance of this ecosystem.

My advice? Take your time, soak in the views, and let Tom’s Thumb Trail leave its mark on your heart.

2. Pinnacle Peak

As a seasoned hiker in Phoenix, Pinnacle Peak has always held a special place in my heart. Towering at 3,171 feet, this trail offers an unparalleled adventure that begins with a gentle incline, gradually revealing the majestic McDowell Mountains.

The first time I hiked this trail, I was struck by the panoramic view that unfolds halfway through. It’s a perfect spot to catch your breath and soak in the vistas of the valley below.

hiking near phoenix

One unique aspect of Pinnacle Peak is its non-loop nature. The trail spans approximately 1.75 miles one way, leading to a turning point that invites you to retrace your steps. This return journey offers a different perspective of the landscape, a feature I always find refreshing. It’s like experiencing two hikes in one!

Along the way, keep an eye out for the iconic Camelback Mountain, visible about a mile in. It’s a view that never fails to impress, no matter how many times I’ve seen it.

The trail, adorned with benches and informative signs, is devoid of facilities, so plan accordingly. Bring plenty of water and maybe a small snack for that halfway pause.

Despite its inviting appearance, Pinnacle Peak can be deceptive with its highest elevation point at 2,889 feet.

The terrain is home to local wildlife like bobcats, rattlesnakes, and tortoises, adding an element of wild Arizona to the hike.

Every step on this trail is a reminder of the diverse beauty the Phoenix area has to offer. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, Pinnacle Peak is a must-experience trail that beautifully encapsulates the spirit of Arizona hiking.

3. Papago Park Trails

Papago Park, a Phoenix “Point of Pride,” is more than just a trail; it’s an escape into a world where nature and history blend seamlessly.

My first visit here was a revelation of sorts, showcasing a park that’s not just for hikers but for anyone who appreciates the beauty of the Arizona landscape.

hiking in phoenix

The park offers a variety of trails, but the Papago Park Butte Loop is my personal favorite. This 2.3-mile loop, with a gentle elevation gain of about 118 feet, is perfect for families and beginners.

The ease of the trail doesn’t take away from the experience – it enhances it, making the stunning scenery accessible to all.

One of the most captivating aspects of Papago Park is its rich history and iconic landmarks, like the Hole-in-the-Rock, a natural geological formation that’s perfect for sunset viewing. Each step on the trail unveils a new perspective of the surrounding desert, dotted with unique red rock formations.

However, it’s not just the scenery that makes Papago special. The park is also home to the Phoenix Zoo and Desert Botanical Garden, making it a hub of activity.

My tip? Visit early in the morning to avoid the weekend rush. This way, you can enjoy the tranquility of the park and the wildlife, including coyotes and jackrabbits, in a more serene setting.

Papago’s accessibility and variety make it an ideal destination for anyone looking to experience the beauty of Phoenix’s outdoors without venturing too far from the city.

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just looking for a pleasant walk, Papago Park offers a slice of Arizona’s natural splendor that’s sure to leave a lasting impression.

4. Mormon Loop Trail

The Mormon Loop Trail is a short, intermediate trail great for families and beginners. Desert flowers and reptiles can be seen in abundance, and the trail will eventually end at about 1.5 miles.

Nevertheless, you can continue your hike by continuing on to National Trail once the Mormon Loop has ended. Dogs are allowed, just be sure that the dog is properly leashed.

hikes around phoenix

Views include Piestewa Peak, formerly known as “Squaw” Peak, the White Tanks, Camelback Mountains, the Four Peaks and more.

While it generally only takes about 30 minutes to an hour to complete, there are a few rocky switchbacks along your path, so be careful to watch your footing along this beautiful and scenic short hike.

5. Superstition Mountains

Located within the Superstition Wilderness, the Superstition Mountains are a range of mountains just east of Phoenix that feature many trails suitable for every type of hiker.

The Superstition Wilderness features over 160,000 acres of mountains and is a great place for backpacking, fishing and horseback riding.

Some of the trails featured amongst the mountains include the Treasure Loop Trail, perfect for beginners, while the Siphon Draw Trail proves itself to be a bit more challenging.

best phoenix hikes

Nevertheless, the “Supes”, as the mountains are often affectionately called, are great to visit for breath-taking views and a little something for everyone.

Other great trails to check out amongst the Superstition Mountains include The Peralta Trail, Reavis Ranch Trail, and Bluff Springs Trail making the Superstition Mountains one of the best hikes in Phoenix!

6. Piestewa Peak

Formerly known as Squaw Peak, Piestera Peak Summit Trail #300 is a 2.2 mile feat. Though the trail is short, it proves a challenge for many.

This is a very popular out and back trail so be aware that there may be a crowd. It’s the second highest peak in Phoenix and is certainly not for the faint of heart.

 places to hike in phoenix

This trail is best utilized in October through March, and is not dog or child friendly. The elevation ascent is about 1,050 feet in the air.

7. Wind Cave Trail

Located near Mesa, Arizona, this out and back trail is approximately 3.2 miles and leads to a small cave known as “Wind Cave”.

The trail is rated as moderate, but hikers who wish for more of a challenge can continue on past the caves, where the view reportedly gets better and the hike becomes more rigorous as well.

Trail gains are around 812 feet in the air. There are restrooms, vending machines, and information brochures offered at the trailhead.

8. Go John Trail

Located within Cave Creek Regional Park in Maricopa County, this trail is considered intermediate and is 5.9 miles long. It is a looping trail, is accessible year-round, and allows leashed dogs.

best hikes in phoenix

The hike highlights the beauty of northern Phoenix and offers an amazing view of the Tonto National Forest. Towards the end of the hike you can catch a view of Phoenix below.

It features about 1,250 feet of elevation gain, thus affording hikers a good workout along the way.

9. Quartz Ridge Trail

Known for its giant boulders and quartz stones that litter your path, the Quartz Ridge Trail is a popular choice for many.

You can choose to complete this 1.8 mile hike on its own or continue on another trail throughout the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. The first portion of the hike is generally flat, but you will gradually ascend thereafter.

This is an intermediate trail with an elevation gain of about 780 feet. Despite being popular, this short out and back trail has a smaller parking lot that can make parking difficult especially during popular times.

10. Sunrise Trail

The Sunrise Trail is a point to point trail that spans about 4.8 miles long. It is located by Fountain Hills and offers plenty of opportunity for scoping out wildlife. It is accessible year round and is considered a moderate challenge.

best hikes near phoenix

The trail gains around 1,134 feet and features panoramic views that include the Superstition Wilderness, Fountain Hills, Camelback Mountain, and more. The trail allows for bikes, dogs, and horses.

11. Lost Dutchman State Park Trails

Located just outside of the Phoenix metropolitan area, the trails at Lost Dutchman are a must-see. The Lost Dutchman State Park is a popular choice among the locals and is located about 40 miles from Phoenix.

The park is named after the “Lost Goldmine Fable”, a story in which a man supposedly hid gold in the Superstition Mountains in the 1800’s.

Trails offered here vary from easy to challenging, thus affording everyone a chance to check out the gorgeous desert landscape.

One family-friendly and wheelchair accessible hike is the gentle out and back trail known as the Native Plant Trail. It can easily be completed in about 30 minutes and has very little elevation gain.

For more of a challenge, check out the Prospector’s View Trail which gains about 505 feet in the air, is considered a moderate hike. Other trails offered here include Discovery Trail and Jacob’s Crosscut Trail.

12.  South Mountain

South Mountain is located South of Phoenix and is an easy hike.  There are more than 58 trails in South Mountain which offer stunning views of Phoenix.

hikes near Phoenix

Hiking in Phoenix is a memorable way to get out and about in Arizona and enjoy the outdoors.

South Mountain is a free hike and in many opinions, remains one of the best local attractions in Phoenix. If you enjoy a good hike, this is one that should not be missed.

13. Echo Canyon Trail Hike at Camelback Mountain

If you’re looking for a quick but challenging hike near Phoenix, then look no further than the Echo Canyon Trail on Camelback Mountain.

Though this is one of the most popular day hikes in Phoenix it is also not for the faint of heart.

The trail is only 1.23 miles to the summit, however, it is at an incredibly steep incline and is best for those who are physically fit and experienced hikers.

Arizona is a great place to go on a road trip and then visit Phoenix along the way.  The Southwest Road Trip will take you through Arizona, California, and Nevada.

Things to know about hiking around Phoenix

There are many places to hike in Phoenix and trails are well marked.  You do need to be conscious of the weather in Phoenix and take these precautionary steps.

Phoenix is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts.  There is a hike for everyone on this list and for different fitness levels.  Also, note that it is dry and hot (year round) and make sure you know what you are getting into before you start.  Here are a few tips for Phoenix hiking:

  • Bring a reusable water bottle and lots of water! Remember you are in the sun and you will need to drink lots of water. I love my LifeStraw Filtered Water Bottle.  I can refill this bottle anywhere and it comes with a carabiner to connect it to my daypack.
  • Check the Weather – days over 100 degrees are very common.  On top of that there is quite a bit of air pollution in Phoenix which can make it suffocating.  Make sure to check.
  • Hiking boots or sandals that will protect your feet! I love good shoes.  I need all the support and help I can get.  I actually love these sandals for hiking and have a whole post on Merrell vs Keen shoes for hiking.  I also love these hiking boots which I used for Hiking in the Grand Canyon.
  • Bring hiking poles for balance and to protect your knees.  I know many experienced hikers (and even amateur ones) think that hiking poles are for old people who lose their balance.  Actually, hiking poles can help when going down steep inclines or when scrambling over rocks.  They are great to hike with even for the most experienced hiker. 
  • Wear a sunhat. I feel like this whole post is about how high you are in the mountains and how much closer you are to the sun but it is so true. At elevation, you are closer to the sun and more likely to burn. Wear sun protection such as a sun hat and sunscreen.
  • Be aware of the wildlife. This is the Southwest and you will need to watch out for snakes and other wildlife such as moose or a bear.  Please stay away from wildlife and do not feed them.  I recommend carrying bear spray as well.
  • Start Early – If you want to avoid the traffic and the heat you will need to start your hike early.  That way it will be nice and cool and the smog will not affect you either.
  • Leave no trace. If you are new to the concept of Leave No Trace it is all about preserving the environment to ensure it is in the same or better condition when you leave it.  This means that you should stick to the trails and carry out everything that you carried in.  This is a great explanation of the Leave No Trace principles!
  • Water shoes are great for water hikes– If you don’t have a pair, I highly suggest it as they are affordable.  I have an article on the pros and cons of several pairs of water shoes.
  • Bring Bug Spray and a snack: Be sure to bring everything you need including a snack like a protein bar plus BUG SPRAY.

best hikes near phoenix

Where to stay in Phoenix

There are many places to stay in Phoenix for all budgets.  Staying at an Airbnb in Phoenix is a great idea. The main thing you will need to decide is what area you want to stay in while you are there. Here are some posts I have written on where to stay in Phoenix.

Best Hotel Pools in Phoenix Hotel Water Park

Best 5-Star Resorts in Phoenix: Luxury Hotels in Phoenix

15 Comfy Airbnbs in Chandler Arizona

15 Perfect Airbnb Scottsdale AZ

19 Best Luxury Resorts in Arizona

Best Luxury HotelJW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa

This hotel is situated in the center of the Sonoran Desert, less than 30 km from downtown Scottsdale. It boasts 2 golf courses, and offers air-conditioned rooms with scenic views.

Best Mid Range HotelFound Re Phoenix

Offering a year-round outdoor pool, Found Re Phoenix is situated in the Roosevelt Row district in downtown Phoenix. The hotel has a fitness centre, and guests can enjoy a meal at the restaurant. Valet parking is available on site.

Best Budget HotelTravelodge by Wyndham

This Arizona hotel is one kilometer from the Talking Stick Resort Arena, home to the Phoenix Suns basketball team. Guest rooms include free Wi-Fi and the hotel offers a 24-hour front desk.

Conclusion – Best Hikes near Phoenix Arizona

I hope you enjoyed this list of Phoenix Arizona Hikes.  These are the 11 top rated hikes in Phoenix for you to enjoy.  The great thing is you don’t have to travel far as all of these are hikes near Phoenix.

Over to you.  Have you been hiking in Phoenix?  Which one do you think is the best hikes in Phoenix?  Let me know in the comments below.

Nicole LaBarge

Nicole is a travel expert who has been traveling to the American Southwest since 1992. There is so much to see and do in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, and California. I spend part of the year in Phoenix and travel around the area visiting all the best places and going on the best hikes. Check out my detailed destination guides, the best hiking in each state guides, and the travel gear you need for your next trip.

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