Phoenix’s Top Five Best Hiking Trails

January 24, 2018

One of the easiest things to be is an outdoor enthusiast in Arizona. With its favorable climate and diversity of hiking trails, you’re bound to find an excellent adventure almost anywhere you visit.

Some of the most popular trails are centered around Paradise Valley, which offers everything from a simple stroll through the desert to the more difficult strenuous switchbacks. Always remember to bring plenty to water, a mobile phone and tell someone where you will be at, or better yet, hike with a friend.

Here are the Top Five Best Trails in this picturesque community:

Echo Canyon Trail on Camelback Mountain

This one is not for the novice hiker. At the summit of Camelback Mountain, which is less than a five-minute drive from the Paradise Valley area, is one of the highest hikes in Phoenix. Most would agree that it is also one of the best views you can achieve here when scaling the mountain preserves. Due to the outstanding view, it also means that this trail stays very busy, but don’t be deterred from tackling this glorious Phoenix landmark. The Echo Canyon Trail climbs from the north side parking lot to a height of 2,704 feet. We did say “climb” — you will definitely need some help from your hands as you ascend 1,200 feet of elevation. There will be some scrambling at the beginning as you are faced with a steep slope and some boulder hopping near the peak. I would recommend adding a little time to your hike so you can stay at the top for a little while and enjoy the 360-degree beauty at the top. Distance: 2.4 miles out and back.

Piestewa Summit Trail in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve

Photo Credit: Andee Oleno

Another of the most popular trails is the summit portion of Piestewa Peak. This trail is approximately ten minutes from Paradise Valley. Hikers that are looking for a scenic, yet challenging trek, will not be disappointed with Piestewa. Known for its steep incline (ascent from 1,400 to 2,608 feet), this challenging, yet beautiful hike will provide an active climb with stunning desert flora and fauna to keep you entertained. You won’t want to miss the views along the way – the peak’s schist rock composes most of the stair-like trail. Distance: 2.4 miles out and back.

Double Butte Loop and Hole-In-The-Rock Trail in Papago Park

If you are looking for an easy hike that will provide some very interesting desert views, give the Double Butte Loop and Hole-In-The-Rock Trail in Papago Park a try. This park is approximately 15-20 minutes away from Paradise Valley, depending on traffic. There really isn’t a better way to enjoy the uncanny red sandstone formations of Papago Park than hiking around (and inside) them. While you’re there, drive across the street to the park’s east side for a quick climb up rocky stairs to take a peek out from the cave-like Hole-in-the-Rock, a popular landmark (and prehistoric solstice-tracking tool) with views of an oasis and distant city skyline. Distance: 2.3 mile loop and 825 ft. out and back (Hole-in-the-Rock)

Hidden Valley via Mormon Trail in South Mountain Park/Preserve

Photo Credit: Andee Oleno

A little further down the road you can find the stunning hills of South Mountain Park, which is about 35-40 minutes from Paradise Valley. The Hidden Valley hike is a steep trail that leans toward the more difficult side of a moderate trek. If you’re up for the challenge, it’s a must-see view along the trail and definitely at the peak. Desert plants and fun rock formations will surround you on this hike. The thing to remember is to look for petroglyphs and trying to fit through a natural tunnel and tight squeeze known as “Fat Man’s Pass.” The lollipop-shaped loop brings you back to Mormon Trail for your descent. Distance: 4 miles out and back.

Lookout Mountain Summit Trail in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve

Photo Credit: Andee Oleno

Located approximately 20 minutes from Paradise Valley is the Lookout Mountain Trail. Although not a very long hike, you’ll climb more than 450 feet, but the burst of breathlessness is worth the views up top. The summit looks out south over the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, and is a less crowded and a more moderate hike than Camelback and Piestewa. The nice thing about this trek is that if you would like to continue your hike, join up with the Circumference Trail that runs a 2.6-mile route through the rocky desert at the mountain’s feet. Distance: 1.2 miles out and back.

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