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Your Guide to the 20 Best Hiking Spots in Phoenix

Your Guide to the 20 Best Hiking Spots in Phoenix 

While Phoenix, Arizona is popular for its weather, it’s also known to be a hub for art, culture, and outdoor activities.

Not only is it a sprawling metropolis that’s undeniably a great place to live at, but it’s also a prime destination among tourists looking for an adventure.

In this article, we’d really like to highlight the hiking trails in and around the Phoenix metro. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, you’re bound to find a trail that will take your breath away – literally and figuratively!

As hiking fanatics ourselves, we’ve laid out the most comprehensive guide you’ll need for the ins and outs of hiking in this city. Read on below and let us know which ones you’d like to take on.

The Best Hiking Spots in Phoenix

Before we go through each hike one-by-one, here’s a summary on our guide to the best hiking spots in and around Phoenix.

Hike TrailLevel of DifficultyAverage Completion TimeDistance
Double Butte Loop at Papago ParkEasy45 minutes3.5 km
Cat’s Peaks TrailEasy1 hour4.5 km
Blevins TrailEasy1 hour5 km
White Tank Waterfall TrailEasy45 minutes2.9 km
Judith Tunnel TrailEasy45 minutes2.08 km
Wagner Trail LoopEasy45 minutes3.5 km
Treasure Loop TrailModerate1 hour and 15 minutes3.5 km
Massacre Falls TrailModerate1 hour and 15 minutes3.5 km
Peralta Trail Moderate2 hours and 45 minutes7.4 km
Pinnacle Peak TrailModerate2 hours and 15 minutes6.4 km
Lookout Mountain Summit TrailModerate45 minutes1.5 km
Holbert TrailModerate2 hours and 45 minutes7.45 km
Tom’s Thumb TrailHard2 hours and 30 minutes6.4 km
Siphon Draw TrailHard4 hours and 20 minutes8.9 km
Piestewa Peak TrailHard1 hour and 50 minutes3.4 km
Pyramid TrailHard3 hours9.7 km
Echo Canyon TrailHard2 hours and 15 minutes4 km
Cholla TrailHard2 hours and 15 minutes4.8 km
Picketpost Mountain TrailHard3 hours and 25 minutes6.8 km
Superstition Ridgeline TrailHard7 hours and 30 minutes17.2 km

Now, let’s go through each one, by level of difficulty. 

Level of Difficulty: Easy

1. Double Butte Loop at Papago Park

Double Butte Loop at Papago Park

Image Source: Viva Phoenix

Address: 625 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix, AZ 85008

Trail Length: 3.5 km

Average Completion Time: 45 minutes

One of the most popular hiking trails for beginners is the Double Butte Loop at Papago Park. This 3.5 km-long trail features distinct red sandstones and a stunning view of the city skyline at the top.

This natural trail takes hikers through the circumference of the two buttes. From here, you can decide which way to proceed first.

You may start at the entrance of the West Park parking lot to access the smaller of the two buttes. It’s a relatively easy dirt loop trail that’ll take you about 45 minutes to complete.

It’s so easy that even dogs are allowed on the trail. And if you’d rather go running or take your mountain bike, the park allows those, too.

The more recognizable one among the two is the trail that leads to the Hole-in-the-Rock. It’s famous because it looks exactly as it sounds – a cave-like hole in a rock (apparently, it’s a prehistoric solstice-tracking area).

If you’d rather see that, take the east side entrance of the park to climb the rocky stairs. Be careful, though, as there are some steep parts towards the top.

2. Cat’s Peaks Trail

Cat’s Peaks Trail

Image Source: Hiking the Southwest

Address: 7232 N Squaw Peak Dr #7200, Phoenix, AZ 85016

Trail Length: 4.5 km

Average Completion Time: 1 hour

Cat’s Peak Trail will take you through a 4.5km-loop trail. It’s popular not just for hiking, but for birdwatching and horseback riding, as well.

The trail is located within the Tonto National Forest. You’ll need to pass by Pass Mountain and the National Forest Boundary to get to the junction of Cat Peaks Trail.

Another entrance you can take is from the west Blevins trails and through the Meridian. You’ll find the trailhead from the eastern side of Usery Mountain Park.

From here, follow the trail system (shaped like a figure eight) that’ll lead you through a large oval around both peaks. You’ll cross between the two in what is called the Cats Pass cutoff, otherwise known as the saddle between the hills.

Along the hike, you’ll be treated to an assortment of saguaro, cholla, and hedgehog cacti. And from the saddle, you get to enjoy a panoramic view of the Superstition Mountains.

A few other things to note, the trail is open year-round and dogs are allowed. However, they must be kept on a leash at all times.

3. Blevins Trail

Blevins Trail

Image Source: Doug Baer via

Address: 3939 N Usery Pass Rd, Mesa, AZ 85207

Trail Length: 5 km

Average Completion Time: 1 hour

To get to Blevins Trail, enter through the Usery Mountain Regional Park. You can either start at Blevins Drive, or take any of the connector trails through Meridian Road. 

You won’t have to worry about getting lost here, as the trail is a well-marked loop that mostly features flat land with very few rises and declines. 

Along the way, you’ll probably encounter people jogging, biking, or horseback riding. The trail is especially nice during the spring, which is why you might notice an influx of visitors during this time.

Dogs are allowed, too, but you must keep them on a leash. The path is mostly smooth, lined with crushed gravel and sand, and you’ll pass by a variety of plants and lush vegetation.

Even though the trail is relatively longer for an easy one, it’s a beautiful hike that’ll give you views of Pass Mountain, Cat’s Peaks, Picketpost Mountain, and Picacho Peak. On a clear day, you might even be able to spot San Tan Mountains towards the south.

4. White Tank Waterfall Trail

White Tank Waterfall Trail

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Address: 20304 West White Tank Mountain Road, Waddell, AZ 85355

Trail Length: 2.9 km

Average Completion Time: 45 minutes

One of the popular trails within White Tanks Mountains is the Waterfall Trail. It’s named as such because it ends at a waterfall, which only flows after heavy rains.

Still, it’s a beautiful trail that’s well-maintained and well-preserved. In fact, you’ll even pass by protected petroglyphs which are evidence of the Hohokam tribe, otherwise known as the earliest settlers in Arizona.

The trail starts off on a paved walkway and eventually leads to rocky dirt paths. It’s generally gentle, but there are a few steeper sections that wheelchair or mobility equipment users may need assistance with.

You’ll see a lot of cacti along the way and even interesting clusters of rocks which are believed to be old riverbanks. It’s a simple out-and-about hike and the average hike time is around 45 minutes. 

5. Judith Tunnel Trail

Judith Tunnel Trail

Image Source: Lilia Kummerer via

Address: 10919 S Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85042

Trail Length: 2.08 km

Average Completion Time: 45 minutes

Judith Tunnel Trail is located within South Mountain Park. It’s one of the few wheelchair and disbaled-friendly trails one could take as it’s completely paved and barrier-free.

You can take either the Interpretive Loop or the Challenge Loop upon entry – the former has educational signages, while the latter features a slightly steeper grade.

Both loops, however, afford hikers water fountains, shade ramadas, and benches to rest on. Most families even come here with their kids for a fun outdoor day.

Just because it’s an easy hike, doesn’t mean it’s not a scenic one. We’d dare say you’ll feel as though you stepped into a wild desert!

6. Wagner Trail Loop

Wagner Trail Loop

Image Source: Kate Meer via

Address: 16300 McDowell Mountain Park Dr, Fort McDowell, AZ 85264

Trail Length: 3.5 km

Average Completion Time: 45 minutes

The Wagner Trail Loop is another beginner- and family-friendly trail that’s located within the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. 

It’s a flat route that’s well-marked and easy to follow. The best part is, you’ll be hiking with a scenic view of McDowell Mountain.

If you’re up for a bit of a challenge, though, you can take the rugged trails that lead through the canyon, and climb up to Fremont Saddle. Continue up for a view of the Weaver’s Needle, which is absolutely breathtaking.

But if you’re looking for an easy route, just follow the loop and it’ll take you right back. It’s even prettier during springtime, when you’ll come across some clusters of wildflowers.

Level of Difficulty: Moderate

7. Treasure Loop Trail

Treasure Loop Trail

Image Source: Champagne Tastes

Address: Apache Junction, AZ 85119

Trail Length: 3.5 km

Average Completion Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes

The Treasure Loop Trail initially begins within the Sonoran Desert and can be accessed through the north or the south. 

As you slowly ascend the trail, you’ll find the wilderness of the Superstition Mountain and Tonto Forest behind you. And at the summit, there’s a picnic table where you can enjoy a stunning view of the valley (and more stunning during sunset!).

Dogs are welcome to join your hike, but please make sure to keep them on a leash. Stay on the trail and keep your eyes peeled for some jumping cholla cacti – you don’t want one sticking on to you, trust us.

Our advice is to bring a flashlight if you’ll be starting your hike later in the day. It can get pretty dark after the sun sets, but the trail is so well-maintained that it’s not too difficult to get down.

8. Massacre Falls Trail

Massacre Falls Trail

Image Source: Kevin Small via

Address: 6109 N Apache Trail, Apache Junction, AZ 85119

Trail Length: 3.5 km

Average Completion Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes

The Massacre Falls trail starts off relatively flat and eventually slithers into the border of Superstition Wilderness, where it begins to gain elevation.

This trail is interesting because it has many interesting legends behind it. The most famous one is the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine.

Legend has it that in the 1800s, the Peralta family were rich miners of gold ore in the area. But on one of their trips back to Mexico, the Apache ambushed them and stole the gold.

Apparently, only a few members of the Peralta family survived, which is why they hid the entrance to the gold-rich mine. This is how the trail got its name. 

During the winter or after a big storm, a seasonal waterfall shows up along the trail. It’s recommended to come here during those times or even early spring because that’s also when wildflowers start blooming on the paths.

9. Peralta Trail to Fremont Saddle

Peralta Trail to Fremont Saddle

Image Source:

Address: 2324 E. McDowell Rd. Phoenix, AZ 85006

Trail Length: 7.4 km

Average Completion Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes

So we briefly touched upon the legend of the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine, but another trail in this list laces itself to the story.

It is said that in the late 1800s, a certain Jacob Waltz or often referred to as “the Dutchman” claimed to have found the gold mine. 

However, he was never able to extract any of the gold and rumor has it that the mine is somewhere within the area of Weaver’s Needle.

This is known as the Peralta Trail. It’s a gentle but tiring uphill hike where you might encounter a few loose rocks.

The elevation gradually increases towards the end of the trail, at which point you’ll arrive at Fremont Saddle.  There aren’t any signs nearby, but it’s a worn out path which is relatively easy to follow.

At the top, you’ll be greeted by a glorious view of Weaver’s Needle. And whether the legend holds true or not, just the experience alone of taking all the experience in is pure gold. 

10. Pinnacle Peak Trail

Pinnacle Peak Trail

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Address: 26802 N 102nd Way, Scottsdale, AZ 85262

Trail Length: 6.4 km

Average Completion Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes

In Scottsdale, the Pinnacle Peak Trail at Pinnacle Peak Park is sought-after because it’s a scenic hike that’s moderately-challenging. It has a distinct granite summit that’s 600-feet above the desert floor, giving climbers a stunning view of the valley.

Since the park is a wildlife sanctuary, you’ll most likely encounter jack rabbits, cactus wrens, lizards, and even a road runner if you’re lucky. There are also coyotes, mountain lions, and bobcats, but you can only usually see them at dusk or dawn.

It’s best to leave your pooches at home or at daycare because they aren’t allowed on this trail. It’s not exactly a very remote wilderness kind of experience, but it’s still a scenic stroll that’ll give you a nice workout.

Generally, the trail is smooth, accessible, and leads out-and-back. Some areas are designated for more experienced rock climbers and you’ll notice a lot of rock formations.

11. Lookout Mountain Summit Trail

Lookout Mountain Summit Trail

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Address: 15800 N 16th St, Phoenix, AZ 85022

Trail Length: 1.4 km

Average Completion Time: 45 minutes

A quick but deceptively challenging hike is the Lookout Mountain Summit Trail inside the Lookout Mountain Preserve. It starts out easy, but you’ll eventually find yourself climbing steep rocks amidst awesome views.

Once you reach the saddle, you can continue up or take a sharp left and follow the ridge line to descend. The trail becomes faint at some point, but you won’t get lost as long as you stay on the path.

But if you’re determined to make it all the way up, you’ll find yourself in awe of 360-degree views of the beautiful Phoenix Mountains Preserve.

It’s really just a relatively quick hike, but it’ll give you a strenuous workout. Dogs are allowed, too, as long as they’re kept on a leash. 

12. Holbert Trail to Dobbins Lookout

Holbert Trail to Dobbins Lookout

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Address: 10919 S Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85042

Trail Length: 7.4 km

Average Completion Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes

The Holbert Trail is a popular hiking spot located at South Mountain Park. It leads up to Dobbins Lookout, which is undoubtedly one of the best places in the city to get a glimpse of the Phoenix skyline.

Here, you’ll start traversing through a field of saguaros that leads into a canyon. For the better part of the hike, you’ll be walking on flat land of gravel and sand, but the elevation gets challenging at the last mile or so.

At this point, brace yourself for the switchbacks as it’s a steep incline towards the top.

Once you’re up there, however, you’ll be greeted by a stunning view of the horizon. Some hikers even suggest doing the hike at night for a unique experience and glimmering cityscape views.

Arguably, you can just drive up to Dobbins Lookout. But where’s the fun in that, right?

Level of Difficulty: Hard

13. Tom’s Thumb Trail

Tom’s Thumb Trail

Image Source:

Address: 23015 N 128th St. Scottsdale, AZ 85255

Trail Length: 6.4 km

Average Completion Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes

Up for a good cardio workout? Tom’s Thumb Trail is a great place to start whether you’re an experienced hiker or someone looking for an uphill challenge.

One of its distinct attractions is the unique butte that’s pointing up, kind of like a thumb. The name stuck because of Tom Kreuser, who was among the first people to climb it.

Along the hike, you’ll get to see unique mushroom rock formations and a good variety of both flora and fauna. If you love rock climbing, there are plenty of rock formations around, too.

At the top, a panoramic view of the city awaits. Catch your breath and take it all in – it’s one worth remembering and possibly, revisiting.

One thing we’d like to note is that there isn’t water available on the path, so we suggest bringing a lot for you and your companions. Remember to stay hydrated!

14. Siphon Draw Trail to Flatiron Summit

Siphon Draw Trail to Flatiron Summit

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Address: 6109 N Apache Trail, Apache Junction, AZ 85119

Trail Length: 8.9 km

Average Completion Time: 4 hours and 20 minutes

Let’s head back to the Superstition Wilderness. For a longer and more challenging hike, take on the Siphon Draw Trail that leads up to the Flatiron Summit.

The trail begins with a gradual ascent at around 3,100-feet. If you come after a big storm or heavy rains, you’ll probably see waterfalls running through the basin.

A common stopping point for most is the slide rock basin. This is because the last 2,000-something-feet to the summit isn’t really maintained by the park, so you’ll have to do a bit of boulder scrambling.

Don’t be afraid, though! This is a widely-taken hike and there are white markings to guide you along the trail.

Rangers often say that this is one of the most difficult hikes around Phoenix, but they also say that it offers one of the best views. We recommend hiking with a buddy – it just makes the experience more fun and you’ll probably feel safer, too.

15. Piestewa Peak Trail

Piestewa Peak Trail

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Address: 2701 East Squaw Peak Lane, Phoenix, AZ 85016

Trail Length: 3.4 km

Average Completion Time: 1 hour and 50 minutes

Piestewa Peak is the 2nd highest Peak in Phoenix. The trail leading up to it is popular because of its proximity to the city and because it’s a lot of fun, even considering the challenge that comes with it.

You’ll find yourself catching your breath as early as the first few steps. The trail begins with a path lined with broken concrete, gravel, and dirt.

This hike can be quite deceitful as you won’t notice how far or near you are to the summit. Instead of a straightforward uphill climb, you’ll have to follow the trail that bends and curves around the mountain.

You’ll also come across long, narrow, and very steep rock staircases a couple of times. The hardest one being the last few steps towards the summit. 

Once you’re up there, though, it’s hard not to be amazed by views of the city and of the Sonoran desert. Plus, you get bragging rights just for being able to conquer this hike.

We’d like to point out that because of how popular this trail is, weekends are so much more crowded. It’s best to do the hike on weekdays to catch the glorious sunset.

16. Pyramid Trail

Pyramid Trail

Image Source:

Address: 1620 W Chandler Blvd, Phoenix, AZ 85045

Trail Length: 9.7 km

Average Completion Time: 3 hours

The Pyramid Trail is relatively new and it’s one of the more remote hikes you can take over at South Mountain Park. 

What makes this trail difficult is that it’s a steep ascent to the summit, there’s no shade, and that there are a lot of false summits.

Here, you’ll traverse the ridge towards the center of the park towards the National Trail and Telegraph Pass Trail. The switchbacks are challenging and will require you to really focus on where you’re stepping.

You’ll have to descend the same way you came up. Our advice is to wear a lot of sunscreen and have a big jug of water on hand.

17. Echo Canyon Trail

Echo Canyon Trail

Image Source: Joel Hazelton via

Address: 4925 E McDonald Dr, Phoenix, AZ 85018

Trail Length: 4 km

Average Completion Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes

We can’t talk about hiking in Phoenix and not include Echo Canyon Trail. It’s one of the two popular hikes you can do on Camelback Mountain which eventually leads to a summit with a skyline view of the valley.

Frankly, you’ll end up rock scrambling more than actually hiking. But that’s the beauty and the challenge of this trail!

Our suggestion is to start early or late in the day. It’s an open area and the sun gets a little too hot sometimes – so much so that a lot of rescues for heat stroke cases occur here.

You’ll want both of your hands free, so bring a backpack for your water. Also, we suggest wearing hiking shoes as they provide more grip and are made for the kind of terrain that the mountain has.

Lastly, take your time and really watch your step. And don’t forget to have fun!

18. Cholla Trail

Cholla Trail

Image Source: Arizona Hiker’s Guide

Address: 4925 E McDonald Dr, Phoenix, AZ 85018

Trail Length: 4.8 km

Average Completion Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes

Of course, we’ll take you through the Cholla Trail, as well. This is the other hike you can do on Camelback Mountain, and it’s the relatively “easier” one among the two.

We say relatively, because it’s still considered a challenging hike. It’s just much longer and less steep than the Echo Canyon trail.

There’s also a bit of a rock scramble towards the end, but overall it’s a pretty clean and steady hike. Make sure to get down before night time, though, as the park is strict regarding closing hours.

It gets crowded, too, so try to go here at off-hours or weekdays. Again, pack on a lot of sunscreen and make sure to stay hydrated throughout the hike.

19. Picketpost Mountain Trail

Picketpost Mountain Trail

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Address: Passage 17, Superior, AZ, 85173

Trail Length: 6.8 km

Average Completion Time: 3 hours and 25 minutes

Picketpost Mountain Trail is definitely not for beginners. This hike is rocky, steep, and way more challenging than one would assume.

To be completely fair, there’s nothing really technical about its terrain. What makes it hard for most people is the level of difficulty you’ll have to endure while scrambling rocks and climbing boulders.

On top of that, it’s common to get lost in this trail. We recommend bringing a map or at least try memorizing the path as some areas are unmarked and overgrown.

Another suggestion of ours is to wear gloves and hiking shoes. You’ll want both of your hands clear and your feet solid on the rocks.

At the summit, there’s a mailbox where you can leave letters or notes to future hikers. Some people have even left gifts in the form of drinks and snacks.

If you have a fear of heights or rattlesnakes, this might not be the place for you. Still, there’s something to be said about facing your fears, right?

All things considered, it’s a rewarding hike that you shouldn’t miss if you’re an experienced hiker.

20. Superstition Ridgeline Trail

Superstition Ridgeline Trail

Image Source: Hunter R. via

Address: Apache Junction, AZ 85118

Trail Length: 17.2 km

Average Completion Time: 7 hours and 30 minutes

As the longest trail in this list, the Superstition Ridgeline challenges in both duration and the actual hike.

We’d like to start off by saying that it’s a beautiful trail lined with cacti and phenomenal views of the valley and Superstition Mountain. At the first few miles, expect significant climbs with gradual elevation gains.

Watch out for rattlesnakes and be prepared for some light jumping and steep inclines. Also, make sure to pack enough water as it will probably take you over 7 hours to reach the summit.

The reward at the top is a stunning and unobstructed view of the Superstitions. We’ve heard that some people love starting at night so they can reach the summit at exactly sunrise – which we can only imagine to be breathtaking!

How to Prepare for your First Hike

So you’re ready to conquer heights and scale mountains. While having a prepared mindset is key, there are other things we’d like you to take note of before putting your hiking shoes on.

1. Let someone know about your plans.

It could be a close friend or a family member, but please share your trail plans to someone – for safety reasons. This is important, especially if you plan on hiking alone.

This is the main thing that experts remind new hikers of. Apart from having someone keep you in check, it’ll also help make you more comfortable to have someone looking out for you.

2. Have the proper gear and clothes for it.

There’s a reason why certain clothes and shoes are specifically-made for hiking. Such attire will give you more mobility, breathable layers, and good grips as you scramble rocks.

3. Always, always bring water with you.

This is pretty self-explanatory, but staying hydrated is imperative for any sport and outdoor activity – especially for hiking. Some hikes will be more exposed to sun, others won’t have water stations around, so just be prepared. 

Don’t forget to carry a first-aid kit in your pack.

Even if you’re just doing an easy trail, it’s best to have a first-aid kit with you. A few essentials to have in it are gauzes and bandages, alcohol, antibiotic ointments, tweezers, anti-inflammatories, an epipen, and antihistamines.

Leave nothing behind.

It’s been said a lot, but we think it needs to be said more. Mind your trail manners by keeping your trash to yourself and not vandalizing on signages and trail markers.

Remember to be respectful of the places you visit. Most of all, stay safe and have fun!

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