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11 Best Hikes in Phoenix, AZ, for 2024 by a Local

11 Best Hikes in Phoenix for 2024 handpicked by a local

By Sometime Traveller

Trailblazing in the Desert: The Top 11 Must-Experience Best Hikes in and around Phoenix, AZ

Explore the natural wonders of Phoenix, AZ, with our exclusive guide to the best hikes in Phoenix, AZ. Uncover the city’s hidden treasures through unique trails that cater to every adventurer. Our curated list ensures an unparalleled experience, combining scenic beauty and local insights. 

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner, these trails offer diverse landscapes and breathtaking views, making them the must-try destinations for 2024. Lace up your boots and let the best hikes in Phoenix become your gateway to an extraordinary outdoor journey. 
You may also discover the best of Phoenix with our quick web story, featuring the best things to do in Phoenix. Click here to explore Phoenix’s must-visit attractions!

Springtime in the Sonoran Desert Near Phoenix AZ |
Springtime in the Sonoran Desert Near Phoenix AZ | Best Hikes in Phoenix

Before we dive into the list of top easy hikes in Phoenix, AZ, let’s cover some vital information you need to know:

Best Time to Hike in Phoenix, AZ

Find the perfect moment to hit the trails in Phoenix, AZ, and make your hiking adventures unforgettable. Whether it’s the cool, refreshing start of a morning or the warm, glowing light of an afternoon, we’ll show you when to go for the best hikes in Phoenix.

  • Fall and Spring Ideal: Consider hiking in Phoenix during fall (October to November) and spring (March to April) for mild temperatures and pleasant weather.
  • Avoid Extreme Heat: Summers in Phoenix can be scorching, with temperatures soaring well above 100°F (38°C). It’s advisable to avoid hiking during the peak summer months (June to August).
  • Early Morning or Late Afternoon: Opt for early morning or late afternoon hikes to avoid the intense midday heat. This ensures a more comfortable and enjoyable outdoor experience.
  • Check Weather Forecasts: Keep an eye on weather forecasts and plan your hikes on days with cooler temperatures and minimal risk of extreme conditions.
  • Hydration is Key: Regardless of the season, stay well-hydrated by bringing sufficient water, especially in the arid desert climate of Phoenix.
  • Trail-Specific Considerations: Some trails may have specific peak seasons or unique considerations. Check local information and trail guides for any seasonal restrictions or recommendations.
  • Consider Weekdays: Weekdays generally have fewer hikers on popular trails, providing a more serene experience compared to weekends.
  • Wildflower Season: If you enjoy vibrant wildflowers, plan your hike in the spring when many desert blooms come to life, adding an extra layer of natural beauty to your outdoor experience.
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Essential Hiking Gear for Phoenix, AZ

Make sure you’re ready with the right gear. Our quick guide covers the essentials – sturdy shoes, water, and more – to help you enjoy Phoenix’s stunning trails safely and comfortably. Get prepped and set to explore the best hikes in Phoenix!

  • Hiking shoes: A good pair of hiking shoes is essential for any hike. Look for shoes that are comfortable, durable, and provide good traction on rocky terrain.
  • Water: Remaining well-hydrated is vital while hiking in the desert. Carry enough water to last the entire hike.
  • Sun protection: The sun can be intense in Phoenix, so it’s essential to protect your skin and eyes from harmful UV rays. Put on a hat and sunglasses, and consistently use sunscreen.
  • Navigation: A map, compass, or GPS device is essential to avoid getting lost on the trail.
  • First aid kit: A basic first aid kit is essential to treat minor injuries such as cuts, scrapes, and blisters.
  • Emergency whistle: An emergency whistle can be used to signal for help in case of an emergency.
  • Headlamp or flashlight: A headlamp or flashlight is essential if you plan to hike during early morning or late evening hours.
  • Insect repellent: Insects such as mosquitoes and ticks can be a nuisance on the trail. Apply insect repellent to ward off insects.

Trailblazing in the Desert: The Top 11 Must-Experience Best Hikes in Phoenix, AZ

Now, let’s uncover the beauty of Phoenix with our list of the best hikes in Phoenix, AZ. Perfect for all hikers, these trails promise adventure and breathtaking scenery. 

Experience Nature’s Beauty: Below is A Curated List of the 11 Best Hikes in and around Phoenix, AZ

1. Piestewa Peak Summit Trail #300

Exploring the vibrant landscapes of Phoenix, AZ, adventurers and nature lovers alike are drawn to the Piestewa Peak Summit Trail #300. Nestled in the heart of the city, this trail is a beacon for those seeking the best hikes in Phoenix, AZ, offering a blend of physical challenge and sensory reward. The 1.2-mile journey up Piestewa Peak is no easy feat, with its steep inclines pushing hikers to their limits. 

Yet, the effort is well-compensated with breathtaking panoramic views that capture both the urban expanse and the rugged beauty of Arizona’s mountains. The trail’s rich tapestry of desert flora and the chance to spot diverse wildlife enhance its allure. It is a standout choice for anyone looking to immerse themselves in Arizona’s natural wonders while enjoying a robust workout.

Elevation Gain: 1200 ft | Time Required: 1 to 2 hours

2. Gateway Loop Trail

For enthusiasts searching for the best hikes in Phoenix, AZ, the Gateway Loop Trail in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve is a treasure trove of natural beauty and serene landscapes. Spanning 4.4 miles, this trail embodies the essence of desert hiking, with its diverse array of flora and fauna painting a vivid picture of the Sonoran Desert’s rich ecosystem. 

The trail’s gentle ascent and well-groomed paths make it an ideal choice for hikers at different levels of experience, offering everyone the chance to revel in the scenic vistas of the McDowell Mountains. Its popularity stems not just from the accessibility but from the immersive experience it provides, making it a standout option for anyone looking to explore the outdoor marvels of the Phoenix area.

Elevation Gain:  655 feet | Time Required: 2 hours

3.  Double Butte Loop Trail

Discovering the best hikes in Phoenix, AZ, leads many to the picturesque paths of the Double Butte Loop Trail in Papago Park. This 2.3-mile trail offers an enchanting blend of natural beauty and accessibility, making it a favorite among families and casual hikers. The unique red sandstone buttes that dot the landscape provide a stunning backdrop for a leisurely stroll or an energetic jog. 

With a combination of paved and unpaved sections, the trail caters to a variety of preferences, ensuring a comfortable experience for all. The rich desert vegetation and striking rock formations along the way encapsulate the beauty of Phoenix’s natural surroundings. For those seeking a serene outdoor retreat without straying far from the city, the Double Butte Loop Trail stands out as a prime selection.

Elevation Gain:  50 feet | Time Required: 1 hour

4. Tom’s Thumb Trail

Amid the search for the best hikes in Phoenix, AZ, Tom’s Thumb Trail emerges as a captivating highlight within the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, just a stone’s throw from Scottsdale. This 4.2-mile trek is a gateway to the striking Tom’s Thumb rock formation, presenting an adventure that appeals to hikers and climbers alike. 

The trail’s diversity in desert flora and panoramic mountain vistas enrich the hiking experience, making it accessible and enjoyable for enthusiasts of varying skill levels. Its well-defined paths lead through an array of geological wonders, showcasing the Sonoran Desert’s unique allure. For those drawn to the outdoors, Tom’s Thumb Trail is a must-visit, offering an unparalleled opportunity to immerse in the natural beauty and tranquility of Arizona’s landscape.

Elevation Gain:  1,236 feet | Time Required: 2 to 3 hours

5. Hole-In-The-Rock Trail

For those looking to experience the unique landscape that defines the Phoenix area, the Hole-In-The-Rock Trail at Papago Park is a key highlight and a quintessential journey for families. Leading adventurers to an extraordinary sandstone formation known for its natural window, this short, 0.3-mile path is celebrated for both its scenic beauty and easy accessibility. 

Ideal for a quick venture into the outdoors, it offers captivating vistas of Phoenix’s urban skyline set against the desert backdrop. As a must-visit spot for anyone seeking a brief escape into nature, the Hole-In-The-Rock Trail stands out among the best hikes in Phoenix, AZ, inviting visitors of all ages to experience a piece of Arizona’s natural heritage.

Elevation Gain: 200 feet | Time Required: 15 to 20 mins

6. Cholla Loop

For avid explorers scouting the best hikes in Phoenix, AZ, the Cholla Loop in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve near Scottsdale stands as a splendid find. This 3.5-mile trail carves a path through the vibrant Sonoran Desert, offering a moderate hike that’s both accessible and rewarding. Its well-maintained route is a canvas of the desert’s diverse flora, complemented by breathtaking mountain vistas that beckon nature lovers and moderate hikers alike. 

The Cholla Loop is celebrated for striking the perfect balance between natural beauty and a manageable challenge, making it a preferred choice for those looking to immerse themselves in the tranquility of the desert. It exemplifies the essence of outdoor adventure in Arizona, providing a serene yet stimulating experience for enthusiasts keen on discovering the beauty nestled within the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

Elevation Gain: 567 feet | Time Required: 2 to 3 hours

7. Echo Canyon Trail

Echo Canyon Trail, a gem among Phoenix’s hiking trails, offers an exhilarating journey up Camelback Mountain. This 2.4-mile trek is not for the faint-hearted, with its steep ascent demanding a good level of fitness. Yet, those who take on the challenge are rewarded with unparalleled panoramic views of Phoenix and its surrounding landscapes from the summit. 

Renowned for its rugged beauty, the trail winds through unique rock formations and the vibrant scenery of the Sonoran Desert, providing a visually stunning backdrop to a rigorous workout. Popular with fitness enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike, Echo Canyon Trail epitomizes the best hikes in Phoenix, AZ, delivering both a sense of accomplishment and a deep immersion in natural beauty to those who conquer its path.

Elevation Gain: 1,522 ft | Time Required: 2 to 3 hours

8. Mormon Trailhead

The Mormon Trailhead, set in the scenic South Mountain Park and Preserve, stands as a prime example of the best hikes in Phoenix, AZ. This trail, stretching 1.5 miles, is renowned for its moderate difficulty and the breathtaking city and desert views it offers. It’s a favorite among both visitors and Phoenix locals, thanks to its clearly marked paths and gentle ascent, making it suitable for a wide range of hiking abilities. 

Serving as an inviting gateway to the diverse beauty of South Mountain Park, the Mormon Trailhead provides an enriching and accessible outdoor adventure, perfectly capturing the essence of Phoenix’s natural landscapes and offering a rewarding experience for all who traverse its path.

Elevation Gain: 433 feet | Time Required: 2 to 3 hours

9. Dixie Mountain Loop

Within the vast expanse of the Sonoran Desert Preserve, the Dixie Mountain Loop emerges as a premier destination for those searching for the best hikes in Phoenix, AZ. This trail, stretching over 3.5 miles, strikes the perfect balance between challenge and scenic beauty, making it an ideal choice for hikers looking to engage with nature fully. 

Its paths are well-maintained, winding through an array of diverse flora and offering stunning views of the desert landscapes that define the area. The loop rewards those who traverse it with unparalleled views of the surrounding mountains and the Phoenix cityscape, providing a profoundly satisfying outdoor experience. For enthusiasts eager to explore the peaceful side of Phoenix, the Dixie Mountain Loop offers a favorite escape into the desert’s serene environment.

Elevation Gain: 401 feet | Time Required: 2 hour

10. Hidden Valley Trail

Nestled within the expansive South Mountain Park and Preserve in Phoenix, Arizona, the Hidden Valley Trail offers a distinctive 3.3-mile journey through some of the most unique rock formations and picturesque desert scenery the area has to offer. This moderate trail invites hikers into its namesake hidden valley, presenting a sense of discovery and peacefulness that is well-suited for nature lovers. 

As one of the best hikes in Phoenix, AZ, it provides an ideal setting for those seeking to immerse themselves in the diversity of the Sonoran Desert’s flora and captivating landscapes. The Hidden Valley Trail is a testament to the natural beauty and adventure that Phoenix’s outdoor spaces have to offer, making it a must-experience for anyone looking for a moderately challenging hike in the heart of the desert.

Elevation Gain:  925 ft | Time Required: 1.5 to 2 hours

11. Apache Wash trailhead

The Apache Wash Trailhead, nestled in the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve, serves as a beacon for those eager to discover the best hikes in Phoenix, AZ. This entry point introduces adventurers to the Apache Wash Loop Trail, a captivating 7.4-mile journey that unveils the splendor of the Sonoran Desert. 

Designed to accommodate hikers at various levels of expertise, the trail features clear paths and showcases breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. Ideal for individuals seeking a straightforward yet rewarding experience in the great outdoors, the Apache Wash Trailhead offers a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in nature and marvel at the tranquil beauty of Arizona’s desert landscape. It’s a perfect destination for connecting with the natural world and enjoying the essence of Phoenix’s pristine outdoor settings.
Elevation Gain: 1,745 ft | Time Required: 1 to 2 hours

FAQ’s

What is the most popular hike in Phoenix?

he Piestewa Peak Summit Trail, renowned for its challenging ascent and panoramic views, holds the title of the most popular hike in Phoenix.

What are some easy hiking trails in Phoenix?

The Double Butte Loop Trail in Papago Park and the Hole-In-The-Rock Trail at Papago Park are popular easy hiking options in Phoenix, providing accessible paths and scenic desert landscapes for a relaxed outdoor experience.

What is the best time to go hiking in Phoenix?

The fall and spring seasons (October to November and March to April) offer the most favourable weather conditions for hiking in Phoenix, avoiding the extreme summer heat. Early morning or late afternoon hikes are recommended for a more comfortable outdoor experience.

Is it safe to bring dogs hiking?

Yes, bringing dogs hiking can be safe, but it depends on the trail and the dog’s abilities. Choose dog-friendly trails, ensure they are well-behaved and physically fit for the terrain, bring enough water, and follow leash regulations. Always prioritize the safety and comfort of both your pet and fellow hikers.

What things should we bring on a hike?

 Essential items for hiking include water, appropriate footwear, a map or GPS, snacks, sunscreen, a hat, and a first aid kit. Depending on the trail and weather, additional gear like a jacket, insect repellent, and a fully charged phone may be necessary for a safe and enjoyable hike.

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