Phoenix offers hundreds of hiking trails right on your doorstep, so there really is no excuse not to go out hiking. However, with so many options you may be uncertain which one to choose and are wondering which are the best hiking trails in Phoenix.
The 10 best hiking trails in Phoenix are:
- Lost Dog Wash Trail
- Granite Mountain Loop Trail
- Treasure Loop Trail
- Pinnacle Peak Trail
- Holbert Trail
- Massacre Falls Trail
- Wind Cave Trail
- Camelback Mountain Via Echo Canyon
- Flatiron Summit Via Siphon Draw Trail
- Picketpost Mountain Trail
This article contains 10 of the best hiking trails you will find in and around Phoenix. We will cover trails of varying degrees of difficulty, ensuring there will be something for everyone even if you are new to hiking.
1. Lost Dog Wash Trail
Length: 4.4 miles | Difficulty: Easy | Elevation gain: 518 ft
Located in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, the Lost Dog Wash Trail is classed as an easy hike even though it does contain an impressive amount of elevation along its 4.4 miles length. However, it is often so subtle that you don’t even realize the elevation.
Family Friendly Trail
The trail offers amazing views of the surrounding area. The fact it is flat means it’s suitable for people of all ages and abilities. This is undoubtedly a family friendly trail, and it’s also great if you own a dog.
The only thing to be aware of is that some short sections of the trail can be rockier than other areas. However, if you take care over these sections, then it should not pose any problems.
Be aware that this trail is very popular throughout the year. It may be tough to get sections of the trail to yourself, but that should not stop you being able to enjoy the wildflowers and vistas on offer.
The trail itself could be slightly better marked, but there are always enough people on the trail to help you out should you need advice on where to go next. Also, think about downloading a map before you travel to make life easier.
This trail is so popular thanks to its accessibility. It is hard to believe you are just minutes away from Phoenix, and yet you feel as if you are in the absolute middle of nowhere when on this trail.
Parking is easy, but be aware that one of the hardest parts of the trail has to be tackled almost immediately. However, it does mean you get it behind you from the start, allowing you to enjoy the rest of the trail without encountering any real difficulties.
2. Granite Mountain Loop Trail
Length: 5.1 miles | Difficulty: Easy | Elevation gain: 400 ft
The Granite Mountain Loop Trail is another trail classed as being easy to complete, and that does tend to mean it is busier than a number of other trails on our list. Once again, this trail is located in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, so accessibility should not be a problem.
Well Maintained Trail
This trail has a number of different activity options along its length. However, it is quite a long trail even though it is classed as being an easy hike to complete. This is largely due to the trail remaining relatively flat with perfectly adequate underfoot conditions.
It does also mean this trail is popular with families, although the length may prevent younger children from being able to complete it. Also, the trails are relatively well maintained with little in the way to complain about.
However, the main thing about this trail has to be the scenery. Spectacular rocks and a wide array of desert plants are features of the trail. There are times where the views of the surrounding area will blow your mind, and hopefully you reach these spots at a quieter time to really soak up everything around you.
The trail itself is easily accessible, which does make it busier than other trails you could explore in the same area. As it is a loop, you begin and end at the same point, and the reserve has made sure there is a substantial amount of parking.
Also, there is no real issue when it comes to markings. It can get a little harder at times, but the path itself is so well worn and well maintained, that you will know exactly where you are and where you need to go.
The trail has a number of places to stop along its length, so even though it’s long, it does mean it can be more accessible to people who are perhaps pushing their limit and require the occasional rest.
3. Treasure Loop Trail
Length: 2.3 miles | Difficulty: Easy | Elevation gain: 534 ft
The Treasure Loop Trail is located in the Lost Dutchman State Park, and at just over 2 miles long it should prove easy enough for most people to complete. However, it’s accessibility does mean this is quite a popular trail, so expect things to be busy.
This trail is often regarded as being one of the most scenic in the Phoenix area, and it’s easy to see why. The spectacular Superstition Mountains with their incredible rock formations are a highlight of this trail and can be seen throughout the loop.
The trail is popular with both hikers and runners. Dogs are always welcome, but they must be kept on their leash at all times.
Keep an eye out for various wildflowers throughout the loop. They are best viewed between March and October, but it has to be stressed that the views around you will be the thing that takes your breath away.
Parking is available at the start point of the trail. However, there is a fee and it can get busy, therefore spaces may be at a premium.
It’s also advisable to check the area during the summer before you travel. There can be an issue with wildfires, and this may result in the trail being closed from time to time. Check in with the park itself to see what the current status is as it can be a fast moving situation.
Overall, this trail is easy to access and is suitable for families and people of all ages and abilities.
4. Pinnacle Peak Trail
Length: 4 miles | Difficulty: Moderate | Elevation gain: 1,033 ft
The Pinnacle Peak Trail is an out and back hike which covers 4 miles, including over 1000 ft in elevation, and is classed as a moderate trail. Located in the Pinnacle Peak Park, it may be tougher than some other trails, but this is still a very popular hike in the area.
Once on the trail you actually walk along the edge of rock formations. This is why it involves a reasonable amount of elevation and is classed as a moderate trail. Having the correct footwear is essential, and it’s not advised to venture on this hike if you are new to hiking.
It does also mean some slight scrambling experience could prove beneficial here, but it’s not essential.
The trail offers some spectacular views of various rock formations and the roughness of nature. At the same time it also provides vistas looking down over Scottsdale golf course, which acts as a reminder of just how close to the city you actually are.
The trail is accessible throughout the entire year, but I must stress that this is one of the most popular hikes in the area. It’s even situated close to a development, so be aware parking at the start of the trail is not as easy as you may expect.
Also, the path is slightly worn thanks to the sheer number of people that hike the trail on a weekly basis. However, this does make it easier to follow the trail.
I did mention how some scrambling experience may be required, but that is more toward the very end of the route. If you do not want to indulge in that, then once you reach around 1.5 miles into the hike you can turn around and head back.
Overall, the views are stunning, but if you want a hike on a very quiet and secluded trail, then this is not the one for you.
5. Holbert Trail
Length: 4.6 miles | Difficulty: Moderate | Elevation gain: 1,115 ft
The Holbert Trail is located in the South Mountain Preserve, but be aware that this is a busy and popular trail for hikers of all ages and abilities. However, with so many stunning views to check out, this is still a trail you need to seriously consider tackling.
Rock Art Trail
The trail is some 4.6 miles long, and there is a total elevation of 1115 ft. That sounds hard, but the challenge itself is not as tough as you may expect.
The trail is covered with ancient ruins, stunning rock formations, and an impressive number of wildflowers. Also, there are ample spots where you can stop to take in your surroundings, which is impressive considering how busy this particular trail tends to be.
Even from the very beginning of the hike you will be able to spot ancient rock art reaching above you. It’s stunning to look at, and it’s a good reason for you to simply take your time with the hike. You just never know what you will come across on this trail.
However, this hike is capable of giving you a bit of a workout. The good news is that most of the hard stuff is on the way out, so coming back along the trail is a bit easier, which is great if you are starting to struggling with fitness.
The trail is open throughout the year and is suitable for families and people of all ages. You are allowed to bring dogs onto the trail, but please do keep them on their leash.
Be aware that it may be best to get there early in the day to claim a parking spot near the start of the trail. It’s not the smallest parking area, but considering how busy this trail can become later on in the day, it makes sense to plan ahead and beat the crowds.
This trail is so close to the city that getting there is exceptionally easy. Also, there are no reports of the trail needing to close at any point, so you have nothing to worry about and can plan ahead for whenever you intend on hiking the trail.
6. Massacre Falls Trail
Length: 5.4 miles | Difficulty: Moderate | Elevation gain: 1,092 ft
The Massacre Falls Trail is extremely popular throughout the year, and even though it does offer a reasonable amount of elevation, it’s not classed as being the most difficult of trails. However, some care does need to be taken as there are sections where you will feel as if the trail is challenging you somewhat.
Located in the Lost Dutchman State Park, the trail is some 5.4 miles in length. This is also an out and back trail, with the promise of seeing a pretty spectacular waterfall being one of the main reasons why so many people venture onto this trail.
The hike itself goes through the Superstition Mountains, and it gets its name after a massacre carried out by local indigenous people on miners back in the 1800s. However, even though it has a bloody history, the trail itself offers stunning scenery and thanks to the elevation you can see for miles at various stages.
Many locals will recommend hiking this route after rain or in the spring. This is when the surroundings are at their best, and you are likely to get more out of the hike than you might when everything is dry and dusty.
The trail is open throughout the year, and its close proximity to urban areas means it won’t take long for you to get there to enjoy a hike. Be aware that the trail can involve some slight scrambling from time to time in case this may prove difficult for you or someone in your party.
Parking is available at the starting point for the trail, but get their early to avoid running into too many hikers. The path is not as wide as some other trails, so if you love a lot of space to yourself then this could be hard to achieve when the trail is busy.
The only other thing that can be recommended is to check for any possible wildfires in the middle of summer. Check with the local authorities as it has led to parts of the trail being closed in the past.
7. Wind Cave Trail
Length: 2.9 miles | Difficulty: Moderate | Elevation gain: 807 ft
The Wind Cave Trail is located in the Usery Mountain Regional Park, and even though it may not be as popular as other trails on our list, it’s not exactly the quietest either. This out and back trail measures in at 3 miles long, but has enough challenging aspects to test you without pushing you to your limits.
The first thing to know about the trail is that it has a real kick at the end, so keep some energy back as you will need it for the steepest part of the hike. This is a popular trail with hikers, and you are free to take your dog with you as long as you keep them on their leash.
But the main feature of the trail is passing through what is known as Wind Cave. This is spectacular, but then the trail itself has so many amazing views and scenes to check out that you will not know which way to turn.
The trail offers spectacular views across Phoenix, a reminder of just how close you are still to the city.
The trail is pretty well marked, although it is quite worn in places thanks to its popularity. There is a need for good footwear though, especially for the steeper end part, and be aware that there’s no shade as such along the trail should you need to rest.
Accessing the trail is easy and you can tackle the hike at any point of the year. However, as with so many trails in the Phoenix area, you do need to be aware of the potential for wildfires in the summer. Therefore, you should check in advance to see if there are any issues.
Be aware that there is parking available in the park, but an entry fee is charged for you to get in.
The trail itself can be covered by most people, but be aware of the steep sections, Therefore, if you have an issue with mobility some aspects may be too difficult. Also, keep in mind the need to have the correct footwear.
Overall this trail is very accessible, just remember the fee to prevent being caught out when parking.
8. Camelback Mountain Via Echo Canyon
Length: 2.5 miles | Difficulty: Difficult | Elevation gain: 1,420 ft
The Camelback Mountain via Echo Canyon trail may be short at under three miles long, but it packs enough punch to ensure that this trail is classed as being difficult. In saying that, it’s far from impossible, and it certainly does not stop a number of people from hiking the trail on any given day.
Short But Elevated Trail
This trail covers some 1400 ft of elevation, which is quite a lot considering it’s a short trail. What you get here is some steep terrain as well as some rock scrambling opportunities. However, you are rewarded with some rather stunning views of the area.
This is the sort of trail where a good pair of hiking boots is essential, while trekking poles could also make a difference with the underfoot conditions. Also, it’s best not to rush this trail, even when it’s busy and people are going past you. Some sections can be more dangerous to walk on, and haste is just not worth it.
During the trail you may encounter rock climbers as Camelback Mountain is one of the favored destinations for that hobby. But if that’s not your interest you will still have more than enough to look at with the scenery.
The trail itself is accessible throughout the year, but be aware that this trail is extremely popular in the winter. Also, the park is not open 24 hours a day, so check their website for opening hours as this can affect your plans.
In addition, the parking is limited at the starting point. You are advised to get there early or you may be forced to park at a hotel which is a 30 minute walk from the start of the trail. This could impact on your entire plans, and then there’s the walk back as well!
Even though it can be tough to park close to the trail, it is at least easy to access for most people. If you plan on trying to check out the scenery and want things to be quieter than normal, then go in spring.
9. Flatiron Summit Via Siphon Draw Trail
Length: 5.5 miles | Difficulty: Difficult | Elevation gain: 2,641 ft
This trail is located in the Lost Dutchman State Park, and it’s a trail capable of packing a real punch when it comes to testing your legs and scrambling ability. However, while it’s difficult in nature, the views you get, along with the sense of achievement, will make it all worth your while.
The trail covers some 5.5 miles, as well as some 2640 ft in elevation. It’s an out and back trail, with some steep and fairly rocky sections. This will involve using your hands to get yourself through these sections, and it could be an interesting start to scrambling if you have never tried it before.
The trail is popular throughout the year, and it will be rare for you to have it all to yourself. This in itself is a shame as some of the panoramic views you have of the surrounding area will blow your mind.
Sturdy shoes are an absolute must with this trail. Also, be prepared for the hike to take several hours to complete, and that means having ample water in your pack.
The trail itself is open throughout the year, although the best time to explore the trail is between September to June. However, it is still popular in the winter, so keep that in mind when planning on when to go.
Be aware that there can be rock slides from time to time. Check with the park to see if this is the case before going. Also, parking can be tough in peak times.
10. Picketpost Mountain Trail
Length: 4.2 miles | Difficulty: Difficult | Elevation gain: 2,070 ft
The Picketpost Mountain Trail is located in the Tonto National Forest, and it’s classed as a difficult hike with a few real challenges thrown in along its length. With an elevation gain of over 2000 ft, it’s going to get those legs working, but it still proves to be a popular hike in the area.
Experienced Hiker Trail
This trail is not for someone who is just starting hiking or scrambling. Instead, it is certainly more for those with a reasonable amount of experience. While sections of the path are easy to follow, there is a lot of scrambling involved, and some of this can certainly be tough. These sections are not suitable for dogs.
Out Of Summer Accessibility
Although you can access the trail all year round it is best avoided during the summer months when temperatures can exceed 100 degrees. The best times to tackle this trail is between October and March.
Hikers living in and around Phoenix are exceptionally lucky thanks to the sheer number of interesting trails in what is a relatively small area. With trails of varying lengths and difficulty, there really is something for everyone.
In fact, I would suggest trying to cover as many of the hikes as possible. It’s a great way to get in touch with nature, and besides the fitness element there are spectacular views to enjoy from all the trails.