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Whether you’re local to the Phoenix area or are visiting to escape the winter and enjoy beautiful weather, there are TONS of outdoor activities waiting for you. One of our favorite things to do is to go hiking in Phoenix, on one of the many stunning trails that call the city home. Many trails offer jaw-dropping views of Arizona’s signature rock formations, the famous saguaro cacti, and the surrounding mountains nearby. If you’re looking for the best hikes in Phoenix, our detailed guide to nearby trails has you covered!

Easy Hikes in Phoenix

Lost Dog Wash Trail

  • Trail Distance: 4.4 miles
  • Location: McDowell Sonoran Preserve

One of the most beautiful, easy hikes in Phoenix is the Lost Dog Wash Trail, which brings hikers around a loop full of wildflowers, cacti, and mountain views in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The trail is fairly flat and easy, but provides stunning vistas of the desert area, especially at sunrise or sunset. It’s also dog friendly for those wanting to enjoy an adventure with their fur babies! Visitors love that the trail feels fairly removed from the city, despite being just minutes away. They also mention that the trails here are quite rocky, so watch your step.

Photo Credit: Take a Hike Arizona (Flickr CC)

Granite Mountain Loop Trail

  • Trail Distance: 5.1 miles
  • Location: McDowell Sonoran Preserve

If you’re looking for a trail for hiking in Phoenix that has it all, head over to Granite Mountain Loop in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. In this diverse area, there are trails that lead you to stunning rock formations, fascinating desert plants, and breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape and mountains. Suitable for all levels of hikers, the Granite Mountain Loop boasts well-maintained trails with little fluctuation in elevation. While this is an easy hike, it is over 5 miles, so it’s best to make sure you carve out half a day or so and avoid the direct sunlight of the mid-afternoon.

Photo Credit: Midnight Believer (Flickr CC)

Double Butte Loop at Papago Park

  • Trail Distance: 2.2 miles
  • Location: Papago Park

For views of the Sonoran Desert’s famous rock formations, there are few better places to go hiking in Phoenix than at Papago Park. The Double Butte Loop is an easy, accessible, and well-maintained trail that brings you right up to these beautiful natural landmarks. While it’s not as far removed as some of the preserve hikes, Papago Park is pretty easy to get to and is very scenic despite its urban location. Don’t miss the famous Hole-in-the-Rock view that the park is known for!

Photo Credit: Kevin (Flickr CC)

Treasure Loop Trail

  • Trail Distance: 2.3 miles
  • Location: Lost Dutchman State Park

In our opinion, Treasure Loop Trail is one of the most scenic hikes in Phoenix on our list. Locals agree, as this park area tends to get very crowded on weekends and holidays! Located in Lost Dutchman State Park, the trail offers spectacular views of the Superstition Mountains and its beautiful rock formations, as well as an accessible adventure for hikers of all levels. We’d recommend getting here as early as possible to see the rocks illuminated in the early morning sunlight.

Pinnacle Peak in the morning hours

Moderate Hiking Trails in Phoenix

Pinnacle Peak

  • Trail Distance: 3.8 miles
  • Location: Pinnacle Peak Park

As one of the most popular hikes in Phoenix, Pinnacle Peak is technically not actually a summit hike, but rather a hike alongside the stark rock formation you see upon arrival at the trail head. Regardless, it offers studding views of nearby boulders and rock formations, as well as Scottsdale’s golf courses and nature areas spread out below. While most of the trail is accessible to beginners, there are parts toward the end that are quite steep, so proceed with caution!

Holbert Trail

  • Trail Distance: 4.6 miles
  • Location: South Mountain Preserve

For a fun challenge rewarded with stunning views, look no further than the Holbert Trail. Located in South Mountain Preserve, this spot for hiking near Phoenix isn’t far from the city center, and is therefore a fairly popular local trail. If you start the hike early, you may have the trails to yourself! Along the way, you’ll find historic ruins, amazing rock formations, and sunrise/sunset views that will truly take your breath away.

Photo Credit: Take A Hike Arizona

Tom’s Thumb

  • Trail Distance: 4 miles
  • Location: McDowell Sonoran Preserve

As one of the most beloved hikes in Phoenix, Toms Thumb takes hikers through the Sonoran Desert to a strange, thumb-shaped rock formation atop a mountain. From the top, you can catch views of the Phoenix skyline, as well as glimpses of the McDowell Mountains and the surrounding rock formations. The trails here are catered to all levels of hikers, and are well marked to provide guidance up to the top. If you’re planning to tackle this hike, be sure to bring lots of water and start early to avoid the harsh mid-day sun and crowds.

Massacre Falls Trail

  • Trail Distance: 5.8 miles
  • Location: Lost Dutchman State Park

Bet you didn’t expect to find a waterfall trail in the middle of the desert, did you? Well, think again! The Massacre Falls Trail is a moderate hike through the Superstition Mountains that culminates in a cliffside waterfall. Despite its violent name, the area actually has lots of cool legends to it – this trail in particular is said to be the site of a massacre of gold miners in the mid-1800s by local indigenous people.

Not only will you feel the mystery and grandeur of this state park, but you’ll get lovely views of the Superstition Mountains’ rock formations. To maximize your chances of seeing a larger waterfall, try to hike this trail after a rainy day or in the springtime.

Photo Credit: Patrick Finnegan (Flickr CC)

Butcher Jones Trail

  • Trail Distance: 4.9 miles
  • Location: Tonto National Forest

There are few hikes near Phoenix that have vast waterfront views, and Butcher Jones Trail in Tonto National Forest is one of them! While the trail does have some beautiful rock formation and mountain views, the real spectacles here are the beautiful views of Saguaro Lake. The cool, blue water surrounded by towering rock formations creates the perfect blend of earth, water, and sky. Note that there’s a fee to enter Tonto National Forest, but for a manageable, beautiful hike that’s different than the others on this list, it’s absolutely worth the cost!

Wind Cave Trail

  • Trail Distance: 3.2 miles
  • Location: Usery Mountain Regional Park

For another short, manageable hike that has some challenging spots, check out the Wind Cave Trail. At just over 3 miles in length, the hike might not seem like much, but it’s got some pretty steep climbs toward the end that will give you a run for your money! Along the trail, you’ll pass by massive rock overhangs known as the wind cave, which feature stunning views of the Phoenix area and the surrounding rocky terrain.

Photo Credit: neepster (Flickr CC)

Peralta Canyon Trail to Fremont Saddle

  • Trail Distance: 5.8 miles
  • Location: Superstition Mountains

Shh, don’t tell anyone, but the Peralta Canyon Trail to Fremont Saddle is probably our favorite of all 17 hikes near Phoenix that we’ve listed here! Not only will you see some of the most beautiful parts of the Superstition Wilderness area – ahem, Weavers Needle (pictured above) – but you’ll also pass by fields of wildflowers and some of the park’s strange, eerie rock formations. The trail is long and steep enough to pose a fun challenge to all levels of hikers. Note that the road to the trail head is rock and gravel, so driving an SUV or 4WD is encouraged.

Photo Credit: Cobalt123 (Flickr CC)

Challenging & Strenuous Hikes in Phoenix

Camelback Mountain via Echo Canyon

  • Trail Distance: 2.4 miles
  • Location: Echo Canyon Park

If you’re an experienced hiker and you only have time for one trail, Camelback Mountain via Echo Canyon is the one we’d recommend. As one of the quintessential hikes in Phoenix, this short trail packs a punch in terms of rock scrambles, steep terrain, and gorgeous views for miles. The trail can get extremely busy, especially during the winter, so most locals recommend getting there at dawn and hiking with the rising sun. Be sure to wear sturdy hiking boots – the rocks and loose gravel here can be tricky to navigate without any tread!

Photo Credit: Bill in Arizona (Flickr CC)

Flatiron Summit via Siphon Draw

  • Trail Distance: 5.5 miles
  • Location: Lost Dutchman State Park

If you enjoy adventures that require a good scramble, the Flatiron Summit via Siphon Draw trail is one of the most fun and challenging hikes in Phoenix. While this 5.5 mile trail may not seem like much, the ascents are steep and rocky, with many sections that require you to use your hands and feet to climb the boulder-filled paths. From the summit, you’ll find jaw-dropping panoramic views of the desert and nearby rock formations.

Pro tip: Go as early as possible to avoid direct sunlight and crowds – this trail has very little shade in the mid-day hours!

Photo Credit: Trevor Huxham (Flickr CC)

Piestewa Peak

  • Trail Distance: 2.2 miles
  • Location: Phoenix Mountain Preserve

Piestewa Peak is one of the closest spots for hiking near Phoenix, and a great place for time-crunched hikers wanting a good challenge. As another short, sweet, and strenuous trail, the peak offers steep inclines, some scrambling, and a beautiful rocky outcropping at the top overlooking the city and its surrounds. Many locals call this trail a “stairmaster” because it’s got consistent, step-wise inclines great for working out your legs.

Photo Credit: Al_HikesAZ (Flickr CC)

Picketpost Mountain

  • Trail Distance: 3.9 miles
  • Location: Tonto National Forest

For scramble-happy adventurers, Picketpost Mountain is a fantastic hiking trail for you. This shorter trail has tons of steep scrambles to get to the top. We wouldn’t recommend this for first-time hikers or those who have never done rock scrambling before, but if you’re a seasoned hiking aficionado, you’ll definitely enjoy the challenging terrain that Picketpost Mountain has to offer. While dogs are allowed on the trail, we’d recommend leaving the pups at home for this one, since the terrain can be dangerous for them.

Skull Mesa Trail

  • Trail Distance: 12.3 miles
  • Location: Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area

The Skull Mesa Trail is a fantastic, day-long hike for those wanting to spend more time outdoors. With a variety of terrain, you’ll cross creeks, wander through forests, and scramble up a rocky pass to the top of the summit. Definitely not a hike for the faint of heart! If you head out on this hike in the early morning, you may come across some local wildlife, like javelina, foxes, or quails. Additionally, there are extraordinary views from the top of the surrounding mountains.

Superstition Ridgeline Trail

  • Trail Distance: 10.7 miles
  • Location: Lost Dutchman State Park

Perhaps the hardest and most rewarding spot for hiking in Phoenix is the Superstition Ridgeline Trail, located in Lost Dutchman State Park. This absolutely breathtaking trail is a point-to-point adventure (meaning you’ll want to take two cars or organize transportation some other way beforehand). You’ll scramble, you’ll climb stairs, and you’ll escape the crowds of all of the more popular hikes on our list. However, experienced hikers who make it through will get some of the most unique, magical views of the Superstition Mountains along the way.

If you plan to take this hike, be sure to bring PLENTY of water and snacks, and block off the whole day. This is definitely a long adventure, but one worth taking if you are an experienced hiker ready for a blissful challenge.

Additional Resources for Hiking Near Phoenix

What to Bring

  • Hiking boots – You can’t hike without appropriate footwear, period. For most trails, we recommend an all-purpose waterproof boot with ankle support. We recommend Salomon hiking boots or Keen hiking boots for a comfortable hike.
  • Breathable hiking clothes – For warmer hikes, you’ll want to stay cool in a sweat-wicking shirt/tank top and breathable pants, like these PrAna hiking pants for men and women. For cold-weather hikes, we recommend dressing in layers, including merino wool baselayers, an insulated puffer jacket, and a waterproof outer shell. And don’t forget a pair of the best hiking socks in the world!
  • Trekking poles – You won’t need these for every single hike, but we recommend throwing them in your car anyway just in case. We recommend the Black Diamond foldable trekking poles, which are lightweight and easy to transport.
  • Water bottle – Having water available at all times is a huge must. To spare disposable plastic, we recommend bringing your own refillable water bottle. We’re obsessed with Hydro Flask bottles because they keep water cold for hours, but a good old Nalgene works very well too.
  • Sunscreen and bug spray – This should be self-explanatory, but sweatproof sunscreen and DEET bug spray can help you avoid sunburn and bug bites, two of hiking’s most annoying after-effects.
  • A brimmed hat or cap – The sun can be brutal in open hikes, so always pack a brimmed hat or cap for day hikes in the sunshine.
  • Emergency blanket and first aid kit – We’d strongly recommend bringing a first aid kit and a lightweight emergency blanket on every hike. Why? Because the unfathomable can happen, and it’s always best to play it safe.
  • Durable day pack – A durable day pack is the perfect spot to stash all your hiking gear. While any backpack will do, we recommend Osprey day packs because they’re comfortable and breathable for long hikes.

Wondering what exactly you should pack for your next hike? Visit our Complete Day Hiking Packing List for our full list and our top gear recommendations.

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Kay Rodriguez is the Chicago-based travel writer and photographer behind Jetfarer and Skyline Adventurer. When she's not blogging furiously on her laptop or editing photos, you can find Kay running, hiking, or paddling in a new city.

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