The city of Phoenix and surrounding area is great for hikers of all levels of experience. Whether you’re a beginner still breaking in your hiking boots or an experienced hiker looking for a challenge, the Phoenix area has something to offer.
And the best way to do that – by hopping on a trail and seeing it on foot!
Let’s dive right into some of the best hiking trails in the area, organized by difficulty level. We’ll provide a brief description of each trail and why it’s popular, as well as any important rules or information you need to know before heading out. Happy hiking!
Easy Hikes In Phoenix, Arizona
If you’re new to hiking or just looking for an easy and/or short hike to enjoy, there are plenty of options in Phoenix. Here are some of the most beautiful and popular easy trails:
If you’re looking for a trail that is wheelchair friendly, the Judith Tunnel Accessible Trail is a great option. This 1.3-mile loop trail is located in South Mountain Park and features stunning desert scenery. The trail is paved, making it easy to navigate, and has a few gentle inclines with a maximum elevation gain of 85 feet.
This is a great trail for those who want to enjoy the desert without having to hike up a steep mountain.
The Sonoran Desert Nature Loop Trail is ideal for those who want to learn more about the desert landscape, including the massive saguaro cacti. This easy, two-mile loop trail is located in Usery Mountain Regional Park and features interpretive signage that teaches hikers about the plants and animals that live in the area.
This is a great hiking trail for families or groups with young children.
If you only have a brief time to enjoy the Sonoran Desert, the Hole in the Rock Trail is a great option. This short, 0.30-mile trail is located in Papago Park and features a unique rock formation that you can walk through. It’s beautiful at any time of the year and may be best to visit in the cooler months for beginners.
This is a great trail for those who want to see some of the unique geology of the area without having to commit to a long hike. You’ll be in and out in 15 minutes or less, so really take the time to stroll around and enjoy the surroundings.
This route is great for small children and dogs that are just being introduced to trail walking. However, because it’s so accessible, be ready for crowds. Come early for the best chance of a bit of peace and quiet.
If you’re looking for an easy loop trail by the city of Tempe, Arizona, the Double Butte Loop Trail is for you. This trail features wide-open relatively flat views that allow for big skies. So you may want to come during sunrise or sunset for the most dramatic lighting.
You can see mountains in the distance as well as the downtown Phoenix skyline and will be greeted with thousands of wildflowers and blooming foliage if you visit during the right time of the year.
This is a great trail for biking as well as hiking. However, it’s not the best choice for strollers or wheelchairs because many sections of the trail become quite narrow.
The grades are gentle, however, there are a few stairs. The path itself is primarily a dirt trail so it’s possible to walk on in tennis shoes, but you may want hiking boots if it’s been raining recently. Either way, be careful with small children on this trail.
5. Latigo Trail
While the Latigo Trail is 3.7 miles, it’s still a relatively gentle and well-leveled trait that’s a great option for later beginners. It’s also an ideal trail for running and biking as well due to its smoothness.
This trail is located in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and features some great desert views that bring you close to the local foliage. It can be quite green in the fall and spring months as well as more temperate, making it a great year-round trail.
There are no major inclines or declines. However, there are some small ones that may make it difficult for those with knee issues. The path is also quite wide in most sections, making it great for large groups.
Moderate Hikes In Phoenix, Arizona
For those looking to break a sweat on the trail, you’ll love these moderate hikes in the Greater Phoenix area. They’ll get your muscles working a bit harder than the easy ones on the list but won’t push you to your max like the difficult trails might:
This popular trail provides diversity that keeps hikers entertained and challenged without being too strenuous. There are many dry falls, tunnels, and narrow passages that make the journey interesting. The trail is only three miles and the first mile is the most challenging part.
This makes the Hidden valley trail great for those who are working to improve their endurance but also want a relaxing finish to their trek.
This trail connects with many other popular trails in the area, so it is easy to extend your hike as you improve your skills and confidence.
It also means that you’ll see many other people on this trail, so be sure to start early to avoid the crowds. Kids and dogs on a leash will enjoy this trail as well.
This is an excellent trail for those who want space and peace when taking a longer hike. It’s not as well-frequented as many other trails are because it’s nearly a full 6-hour journey long. However, don’t let the lack of hikers fool you. It’s a beautiful trail for grasslands, mountain views, large skies, and wildlife watching.
Brown’s Mountain is the highest point on this trail and provides a stunning 360-degree view of the area. You’re likely to see javelina, coyotes, and mule deer if you keep your eyes peeled.
There are some inclines but nothing too strenuous for those in good hiking shape. The endurance required to take this 15 mile hike is more important than the strength needed to scramble or climb.
This may be too long of a walk to bring your pup on, but it’s a great trail for those who want to immerse themselves in nature for the day.
This beautiful out-and-back style trail only takes an hour and fifteen minutes and provides you with sweeping panoramic views of the south mountain preserve.
When you arrive at the Desert Foothills Parkway and find the trailhead, bathrooms and a water station will be available for your convenience.
The ground is relatively easy to walk on, making this trail a good option for youngsters as well as well-trained pups on leashes. Its relatively level ground also makes it ideal for runners.
The hike is a total of 2.3 miles in and out. Keep an eye out for Hohokam petroglyphs that are scattered throughout the area.
More experienced hikers can head onto the Desert Classic Trail which continues for an additional 9 miles and leads you into the Pima Canyon.
This moderate in-and-out trail takes just under 2.5 hours to complete and leads to some of the most beautiful and challenging vistas in Phoenix.
Dobbins lookout is one of the highest points in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve and provides panoramic views of the cityscape as well as South Mountain. Beginners can even drive to this point if they don’t think they’re quite ready for the hike.
The trail is rated as moderate because of the incline, which reaches an elevation gain of 997 feet total. The trail is 4 miles long from finish to end.
The trail is best used from October until April because the heat can be very challenging during the summer months.
During the spring, you’ll also be able to see a wide variety of desert wildflowers in bloom.
There are also clean bathrooms available at the trailhead as well as a picnic area for you to enjoy after your hike.
This four-mile trail is located near Scottsdale Arizona, so it’s easy to drive to in the greater Phoenix area. You’ll be able to complete this trek in about 2.5 hours, making it the perfect length for a day hike.
The first mile of this loop is considered to be the most difficult, with an elevation gain of about 1200 feet. The rest of the trail is much more moderate with only small inclines.
The Grandview rest stop, which is just shy of a mile into the route, McDowell Mountain, and the valley. You may see Camelback Mountain from Owls Rest one mile up the path.
Many beautiful birds and small animals call this area home, so keep your eyes peeled for some desert wildlife.
Difficult Hikes in Phoenix, Arizona
In nearby Scottsdale, the Echo Canyon Trail is a great option for those looking for a challenge. This difficult, 2.5-mile trail features many steep inclines and can be quite challenging in the heat.
The trailhead begins at Camelback Road and Echo Canyon Drive. There is no water available at the trailhead, so be sure to bring plenty with you. Pace your energy and water for the end of the hike. The final half-mile is the Camelback Mountain Summit trail, where strenuous scrambling on rock formations is required to reach the top.
This is a difficult hike that should only be attempted by experienced hikers in good physical condition and it’s important to wear good hiking shoes as well. Since there isn’t much coverage on this trail, sunscreen is strongly recommended.
Leave dogs and children at home for this one. Pups aren’t allowed and the trail isn’t safe for youngsters.
This popular 4-mile trail is known for its steep summit hike that gives away to stunning views of the valley. Tom’s Thumb is a great trail for intermediate to advanced level hikers. You’ll also see a variety of wildflowers if you visit in the springtime.
This trail is dog-friendly, but be sure to keep your furry friend on a leash at all times. You can expect it to take between 2 and a half to three and a half hours to complete, depending on your pace.
Keep in mind that this trail doesn’t have shade so you’ll want to bring sunblock, a good hat, and plenty of water. Going during early or later hours when the sun is indirect may be more comfortable. You’ll also want to be careful to avoid falling rocks. This is common enough of an occurrence that the trail has signs warning hikers to watch out for them.
This 5-mile round-trip trail is near Apache Junction and is a popular destination for those looking for a challenge. The trail starts out easily enough, but it quickly becomes steep as you make your way up to the summit. The total elevation is 2745 feet and ends at the famous Flat Iron peak. You can scramble at a near vertical rock face at the summit to get an even better view of the area.
This trail is recommended for experienced hikers in good physical condition. You should also be comfortable with heights as there are some steep drop-offs along the way.
You can access this trail in the Lost Dutchman State Park which provides incredible views of the Superstition Wilderness area. But the climb can be difficult in the summer heat. Be sure to bring plenty of water and hike early in the day to avoid the heat.
This is one of the most popular trails in Phoenix and for good reason. The summit provides incredible 360-degree views of the city. You can see all the way to Four Peaks, South Mountain, and even Sedona on a clear day.
The trail is only about 2 miles long but it’s quite steep with an elevation gain of about 1,200 feet. Many people enjoy this hike during sunset, since it’s a great place to watch the city lights come on. A full moon hike is also popular.
The trailhead begins at the Piestewa Peak Recreation Area which has plenty of parking. Dogs are not allowed on this trail as it is dangerous and uncovered, so make sure to bring a hat, sunscreen, and a good amount of water.
What to Know About Hiking in Arizona?
There are a few key things to remember when hiking in Arizona. First, the heat can be intense so it’s important to hike during cooler hours or times of day. Second, bring plenty of water as there are often no sources of water available on the trails. And finally, be sure to wear sunscreen and a hat as there is little to no shade on most trails.
Some trails can be difficult to navigate, so it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and know your own fitness level and hiking experience. If you’re not comfortable with heights, for example, it’s best to avoid trails that have steep drop-offs or require scrambling. You can use a program like AllTrails to make sure that the trail you’re planning to hike is a good fit for you.
When in doubt or if you’re new to the area, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and choose an easier trail. You can always try something more challenging next time. The most important thing is to enjoy yourself and have fun!
What mountains can you hike in Phoenix, AZ?
There are many mountains you can hike in Phoenix, AZ. Some of the most popular include:
- Camelback Mountain
- Tom’s Thumb Trail
- Piestewa Peak Summit Trail
- Shaw Butte Trail
- Lookout Mountain Summit Trail
- Siphon Draw to Flatiron Trail
Due to the close proximity of the city and the number of trails available, Phoenix mountains are a popular destination for hiking and outdoor activities. Many of the mountain trails are dog-friendly, but it is important to check before you go as some have restrictions.
Phoenix, Arizona is a great place to hike with many trails to choose from, depending on your level of experience and fitness. Now that you know which trails are the best for you, get out there and explore. After your hike, be it big or small, cool down and relax at one of the best restaurants in Phoenix or go straight to the breweries to rehydrate!