Phoenix, with its ideal weather and climate, has long been a favorite hiking destination for outdoor enthusiasts. With some truly breathtaking wilderness nestled close to urban areas, you’re guaranteed to be a short drive from a great trail. In fact, it’s even been named one of the Best Hiking Cities in the U.S. by National Geographic. But, where to start?
This one’s no secret, but it’s the most popular hiking spot in Phoenix for a reason. The Echo Canyon Trail at Camelback Mountain might only be 1.23 miles long, but the climb to the summit is a real trek! For hikers willing to break a sweat, the views from 1200 feet are well, well worth it.
Piestewa Peak is another popular spot, although you’re more likely to hear it referred to as Squaw Peak. While you’ll likely never be the only ones on this trail, the views will more than makeup for the crowds. Don’t be fooled into believing this hike is easy because it’s popular. It’s a 1.2-mile summit up to 1200 feet, so it’s quite the climb.
Billed as one of the largest municipal parks in North America, South Mountain Park boasts more than 16,000 acres of desert landscape and 58 miles of trails. If you’re in for the summit, make for Dobbins Lookout either via numerous trails or Summit Road. The park is also home to thousands of ancient Hohokam petroglyphs representing birds, animals, people, and geometric designs. For the best viewing of these rock carvings, head for Judith Tunnel or the Desert Classic, Kiwanis, and Mormon trails.
If you’re on the hunt for a picturesque sunset without having to hike up steep hills to find it, Papago Park is the perfect place. Beginner-friendly trails with low elevation gains give hikers views of unique rock buttes and easy access to a number of other attractions including the Phoenix Zoo and Botanical Gardens.
For an easy and beautiful hike that grandparents, toddlers, and even the pups can join in, Wind Cave Trail at Usery Mountain Regional Park in Mesa, AZ is a great nearby choice. It’s 2.9 miles out-and-back and leads to a scenic desert cave. It’s an ideal spot for a picnic lunch and offers more to explore if you take the trailhead to the right of the cave for a quick eight-foot climb to the summit.
The well-maintained trails at the McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale span more than 30,500 acres are open from sunrise to sunset, and even offer free parking. Our favorite trail? The two-hour out-and-back climb to Sunrise Peak via the Sunrise Trail. And yep, you guessed it −sunrise is the best time to go for 360-degree views of the valley and mountain tops.
Another great choice in the Scottsdale area is the Pinnacle Peak Trail. This trail offers more moderate hiking over smooth, well-manicured paths with great views of the desert landscape. You have the choice between a 1.75-mile route or a 4-mile loop, so it can be perfect for hikers of all skill levels.
White Tank Mountain Regional Park is just outside of Phoenix city limits, so it’s one of the closest options to downtown. It also features an easy, mile-long Waterfall Trail that is a must-hit after a good rain. You can also see a number of excellent examples of petroglyphs.
For more serious, experienced hikers, the Superstition Ridgeline Trail in Lost Dutchman State Park comes with big rewards. For hikers willing to trek 20 miles to get up close and personal with the true beauty of the Sonoran landscape, this is the place.
Shaw Butte can be found in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve and is an extremely scenic 4.25-mile loop offering panoramic views for hikers of all levels. You can bring the whole family for a moderate hike with an elevation climb of only 800 feet.
Taylor is part of the Communications Team at Sun Country Airlines. What she loves most? Sun Country’s love of all things Minnesota and the airline’s focus on making everyone – from crew to passengers – feel right at home. If she were hopping on a flight tomorrow, she’d be headed west to Portland or south to Puerto Vallarta.