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Phoenix is notorious for its hot weather, and there’s nothing worse than baking in the sun all day slipping off some sandy desert rock climb. Obviously, the best solution is to head indoors. Regardless of what level you’re climbing at, or if you’ve never climbed at all, this comprehensive list of rock climbing gyms in Phoenix, Arizona will have you scaling the walls in no time.

The Phoenix Arizona is surrounded by climbing, but the heat and be too much. So escape to an indoor climbing gym and crush with the Phoenix community.
Escape the desert, head to your local climbing gym and throw shapes on plastic holds. These climbing gyms in Phoenix will have you sending in no time.

Rock On With This List Of The Best Rock Climbing Gyms In Phoenix, AZ

Phoenix Rock Gym

  • Location: 1353 E. University Drive, Tempe, AZ 85281
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering, Top Rope, Lead Climbing

No worries for new climbers, there are plenty of learning opportunities at Phoenix Rock Gym that’ll get you sending on their 56 top ropes and hanging around the gym in no time. Plus, two floors of bouldering provide enough blocks for pure bouldering sessions. However, if being high up is all you’ve been thinking about, not to worry! The roped walls are 30ft tall and there are plenty of them, with 17,000 sq. ft. of climbing wall to scale. If you fancy climbing in Phoenix this gym won’t disappoint!

Black Rock Bouldering Gym with slabs and overhangs so anyone can rock climb
Black Rock Bouldering Gym’s various angles

Black Rock Bouldering Gym

  • Location: 10436 N 32nd St, AZ 85028
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering

Black Rock Bouldering Gym features the more modern, 15 foot tall, no ropes approach to climbing. With plenty of new-school blocks to choose from this climbing gym offers some of the best routes in Phoenix. Plus, there are regular yoga classes that’ll keep you limber for those big moves, and climbing classes for those looking to bump their grade to the next level. About more than just climbing, this gym will get you fit and flexible in no time.

Focus Climbing Centre

  • Location: 2150 W Broadway Road Suite 103, Mesa, AZ, 85202
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering, Autobelay, Lead Climbing

Focus Climbing Centre is a super diverse range of climbing from slabs to caves, this gym features everything you need to become a crusher on the Phoenix scene. All the taller walls feature autobelays, so you can forget about your flaky belayer and rock up whenever you want to. However, you’ll still be able to lead as the walls do feature quickdraws. Lessons for all ages are available to help you progress and find your groove. Plus all their matting is seamless lowering the potential for sprained ankles.

Climbmax Gym

  • Location: 1330 W. Auto Drive, Suite 108, Tempe, AZ 85284
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering, Top Rope, Lead Climbing, Weight room

All types of climbing are on offer at the Climbmax Gym. Featuring 2 floors of bouldering that get reset weekly, 150 top rope routes, 45 lead climbing routes, and dedicated training areas. Their Climbing 101 class will get anyone new comfortable with the ropes, while their Lead Climbing classes teach you not just how to climb but also how to belay with a variety of devices. Additionally, the gym has a gear shop, so you can pick up what you need for your next climbing adventure in Phoenix.

Ape Index Rock Climbing Gym

  • Location: 9700 N 91st Ave, Peoria, AZ 85345
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering, Top Rope, Lead Climbing

If you like to top rope Ape Index Rock Climbing Gym in Phoenix is for you. With belay devices on the hanging ropes all you need are shoes and your harness. But, if you’re new that’s no bother, rental equipment and lessons are readily available. Plus there are training and bouldering areas for getting stronger and climbing through the grades. Their climbing tunnel can get you feeling confident on those roof climbs with safe falls the whole way up. Further, if you’re looking to get climbing outside for the first time their private lessons can give you the skills you need to be safe.

AZ On The Rocks

  • Location: 16447 N. 91st Street, Suite 105, Scottsdale, AZ 85260
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering, Top Rope, Autobelay, Lead Climbing

Whether you’re a rock novice or a stone master AZ On The Rocks has got everything you want. Not just all the climbing you could imagine, but all the extras that climbers love: Slacklines, ninja courses, rappelling, and yoga. This climbing gym also has full gear rentals including ropes which I will say can be difficult to find in a gym. Their shop will keep you stocked on gear and mid climbing session snacks — An essential part of the send.

Additional Resources for Climbing in Phoenix

What to Bring

Everyone’s checklist

  • Clothes – There’s no best outfit for climbing and figuring out what to wear is always a little tricky when you’re just starting. Shorts or trousers? Honestly, just dress for the temperature and any sportswear will do. Although protecting your knees is often a good idea, and going from climbing to casual without changing in a good pair of trousers can save you space in your gym bag. Honestly as long as it’s stretchy you’ll be fine, but if you can get a pair with a diamond gusset like Hippy Tree’s Sierra Pants or Patagonia’s Venga Rock Pants, you won’t regret it. Shorts wise, anything baggy or stretchy would also be fine, but I have noticed the cool kids do like to wear Prana’s Mojo Shorts. IF IT IS YOUR FIRST TIME – BRING SOCKS (those rentals aren’t getting any newer)
  • Water – Any respectable athlete will tell you that staying hydrated is really important, and any climber will tell you there are 3 options for bottles, all of which you must plaster in stickers. They are: The old reliable BPA free Nalgene, the elite Hydroflask, and finally the eco friendly Klean Kanteen.
  • Snacks – There is quite frankly nothing better than a little nibble when you’ve been trying hard, but a full meal will probably derail your journey on the send train. Personally, I always carry some sort of cereal bar to keep me going mid session such as Cliff Bars or RXBARs.
  • Tape – I’m talking good sticky zinc tape. Offered by a host of climbing brands and easily bought at your local gym, tape is used to save some skin or seal up that flapper. Metolius makes my favorite, but there’s plenty of options out there.
  • Hand Balm – There’s plenty on the market, but I’ve had the same nub of climb on for a couple of years and it’s doing me good. Although, I did recently get a tub of Joshua Tree and that stuff really works.
  • Nail clippers – Now this is super underrated and honestly the last thing you want is to be the one making horrible scratching noises every time you crimp. Additionally, long toenails can make squeezing your feet into already tight climbing shoes all the more painful, so be sure to pick up a pair and throw them in your bag.

Established climbers checklist

  • Climbing Shoes – The staple of all climbing, a great selection can be found online here. Picking the right shoe can be really tricky, but look out for our future advice article.
  • Chalk Bag – Sweaty hands are the bane of a climbers existence. We carry chalk to quickly deal with those sweaty tips and up the friction. Chalk comes in balls, loose, bricks, or liquid, whilst the bags come in all shapes and sizes. Boulderers might prefer ‘buckets‘ to avoid losing your chalk in a tumble.
  • Harness – These are much of the same, but some are particularly light to help you hit the higher grades, though they often end up losing a couple of features. Some of the best do-all harnesses include Petzl Adjama, Black Diamond Momentum, and Mammut Sender Fast Adjust which feature enough gear loops for getting into more complex climbing, as well as adjustable leg loops for when you need to layer up.
  • Belay Plate – There are really only 3 factors to consider when choosing one of these; what you learnt to use, where you want to take your climbing, and the cost. Standard ATC, Guide ATCs and Assisted Braking Devices all work, but it’s really all down to personal choice. The flexibility of guide plates make them a favorite amongst those looking transfer their knowledge outdoors, while assisted devices can feel more secure to beginners.
  • Brush – You only need a small personal brush for when the chalk has built up and make the holds smooth, a lot of gyms do provide them so you don’t need one. Saying that, why not accessorize your chalk bag with a colorful brush like these Lapis Boar hair brushes!
  • Rope – When you get to leading you’ll probably want your own rope, but if you’re climbing indoors avoid making the ‘I need a light skinny rope to send’ mistake. You’re going to be running loads of laps, so get a good thick dynamic rope like this 9.9mm aptly named Workhorse rope from Mammut or even a fat 10.2mm from Black Diamond that’ll stand up to heavy gym abuse. Also, since you’ll be indoors you can skip any dry treatments that push the price upwards.
  • Backpack – You’ll need a gym bag of sorts to help you lug all this around, and how big you go is totally up to you and what you’re going to be carrying. If you’re just hitting up the bouldering gym, or don’t mind wondering around with the rope on show, then a good 15-20L bag like the AR 20 from Arc’teryx is ideal. Plus it’ll suit all your future fast and light days. Going up to 20-35L, will let you start packing those extra layers and maybe get the rope inside your bag too. At this size Patagonia’s Crag Smith is full of features and makes a great all round day pack!

Post send and extras

  • Belay Gloves – By no means do you need belay gloves, but some people like to keep their hands a little safer just in case (some people do let go if the rope starts to burn their hands). The trick to these gloves is leather palms to achieve the right friction. Outdoor research make a great set called the Fossil Rock Gloves, and they’re fingerless for both breathability and style points.
  • Crack Climbing Gloves – If you’ve been inspired by the Wide Boyz, but are tired of ripping tape off the back of your hands then a pair of the new Black Diamond Crack Gloves or Outdoor Research’s Splitter Gloves could be for you.
  • Skin File – If your calluses are getting a bit dry and you’re starting to get the equivalent of a hangnail in the middle of your finger, this is a sure fire way to end up with one big flapper. You can file it down with one of Climbskin’s portable solutions and avoid that week of taping up an avoidable mistake.
  • Shoe deodorant – Climbing shoes get notoriously smelly, lucky I’ve got 2 great solutions for you – Boot Bananas and Disinfectant spray, I genuinely use these and they work a treat and when I run out the shoes stay out my bag.
  • Acupressure Ring – Who knows if these work or not, but I’ve been using one religiously on a pulley injury and I think it’s helped a lot. They’re pretty cheap, so why not?
  • Long Term Antiperspirant Treatments – Good skin care is important to keep you in top climbing shape. Rhino Skin Solutions are a great brand, endorsed and used by all the big names in climbing, with the big benefit of reducing sweating. I mean the less time you’re hanging around chalking up, the more energy you’ll have to send. The job lot Skin Abuse Pack and their Tip Juice might help you push your grades sooner.

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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!

Looking for the perfect gift for your favorite hiker? Here’s a comprehensive list of our
35 favorite (practical) gifts for hikers, updated for 2020!

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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