Arizona’s deserts, mountains, and valleys offer a multitude of amazing hikes. But the capital of Arizona, Phoenix, has its own fair share of hiking trails in and around the city. If you’re in the area you won’t have to search for long to find your next favorite trail. Here are the top 5 hikes in Phoenix, Arizona.
1. Camelback Mountain
Starting the list off with Camelback Mountain which gets its name from its shape, resembling the hump and head of a kneeling camel. It’s a landmark of the Phoenix metropolitan site and is located in the Camelback Mountain Echo Canyon Recreation Area between the Arcadia neighborhood of Phoenix and the town of Paradise Valley.
The Two hiking trails it features ascend 1,280 feet to the peak of Camelback Mountain. The Echo Canyon Trail is 1.1 miles, and the Cholla Trail is 1.4 miles. Both trails are considered strenuous with steep grades. The hiking path has dirt, gravel, boulders, and some handrail sections. The average hike requires a round trip time of 1.5 to 3 hours.
Nearby the Praying Monk is a red sandstone rock formation that is used for rock climbing. Located on the northern slope, the formation resembles the silhouette of a person kneeling in prayer. It rises approximately 100 feet, and the eastern face has several permanent anchor bolts for attaching a rope.
2. Tom’s Thumb
Tom’s Thumb is a prominent granite bump in the McDowell Mountain preserve, easily visible from the Scottsdale area. This popular technical rock-climbing destination is also a fun hike with impressive views. It’s a 4 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Rio Verde, that features beautiful wildflowers and is rated as moderate in its difficulty. It’s accessible year-round and dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
If you’re wondering about the name, it came nearly 45 years ago from the Arizona Mountaineering Club. After Tom Kreuser who was the first club member climbed the mountain. Ever since then, the Tom’s Thumb name stuck and is commonly used today.
3. Pinnacle Peak in the McDowell Mountains
Pinnacle Peak is a 3.5-mile round-trip, moderate hike that doesn’t have the highest peaks on the trail but still features beautiful views and panoramas of the surrounding valley. There is an access trail for rock climbers that leads to the summit, but hikers are not allowed on this part of the mountain. The area around Pinnacle Peak was used by the Hohokam for hunting and food gathering. Later, settlers began to use the area for ranching and mining, with homes gradually being built within sight of Pinnacle Peak.
Other spots here include the Scottsdale trail which offers spectacular views of the surrounding area. A little past the 1/2-mile marker, Grandview rest stop presents a panorama of the valley and from Owls Rest, one mile up the trail, you can make out Camelback Mountain in the distance.
4. Superstition Mountain’s Flatiron via the Siphon Draw Trail
Next up is the Flatiron. This is the hardest hike on this list. It’s a 5.5-mile round trip hike and can be very difficult. While there are hikes for every skill level in the Superstition Mountains, this one will need you to be prepared. The trail is best hiked from September until June and while parts of it might seem easy there will be a part where you will have to scramble up rocks which can be very dangerous especially in wet terrain. Also be on the lookout for Flatiron Jim, a 90-year-old that does this hike every 3 days in the winter. He’s in better shape than you.
5. Piestewa Peak
Finally, this brings us back to our last hike, Piestewa Peak. This hike is mega-popular because of its location so it’s always packed. Still, it’s a great hike with many amazing views that you shouldn’t miss.
At 2,610 feet it’s the second-highest point in the Phoenix Mountains, after Camelback Mountain, and the third-highest in the city of Phoenix, Arizona. Piestewa Peak is named in honor of Army Specialist. Lori Ann Piestewa, the first known Native American woman to die in combat in the U.S. military, and the first female soldier to be killed in action in the 2003 Iraq War.
While the mountain is climbed thousands of times a week, many people don’t make it to the peak because the trail is tougher than it looks. The hike itself takes anywhere from 25 to 60 minutes and about 40 minutes for the descent, the views from the top though, are stunning.
Now it's time for you to get out there and enjoy the views. Thanks for reading and we’ll see you in the next adventure.