7 Top Day Hikes Around Phoenix Arizona

As a Canadian, when I think about the city of Phoenix, I think of hot weather and golf courses. While I’m completely correct about the presence of those two things, the day hiking around Phoenix is far more up my alley! Looking into hiking trails near Phoenix, I was blown away by the incredible variety, easy access, and true beauty of the three massive mountain reserves within a stone’s throw from the city.

1. Tom’s Thumb, McDowell Mountain Preserve

View from Tom's Thumb, Phoenix top places to hike in phoenix where to hike in phoenix what are the best walking trails in phoenix

Image via Flickr by raystern

Perhaps one of the more iconic hikes around Phoenix, this 3.7-mile (6-km) trail in the McDowell Mountain Reserve weaves through lush vegetation until you reach the Thumb, a large granite bump. Once at Tom’s Thumb, you can either connect with a multitude of other trails, enjoy the views of Phoenix and Four Peaks, or climb the thumb itself.

2. Alta Trail, South Mountain Preserve

You’ll need powerful lungs and strong legs for this hike, but the elevation gain over the 4.5 miles (7.2 km) means you’ll find some truly massive mountain and canyon views along the way. Interestingly, the Alta Trail was built in 1930 as a Civilian Conservation Corps project, meaning that it offers both a great workout and a history lesson.

3. Shaw Butte Trail, Southwest Mountain Preserve

Another hike with serious elevation gain, this moderate-to-difficult loop trail is thought to be the best hike in the Phoenix area. With sweeping vistas of the North Mountain and Piestewa Peak, all of your hard work will be duly compensated.

4. Piestewa Peak, Phoenix Mountain Park

View from Piestewa Peak in Phoenix Arizona top hikes in the phoenix area phoenix hiking trails blog

Image via Flickr by Rick McCharles

Arguably the most hiked area in Arizona after the Grand Canyon, the short but mighty trail up the 2,608-foot summit can provide wildlife sightings and excellent views. The downside is that this trail is so popular that over half a million visitors make the climb each year, meaning the trail is often crowded.

5. Waterfall Canyon, White Tank Mountains Regional Park

Who doesn’t love a good waterfall? The Waterfall Canyon trail will lead you to just that! The smooth surface and short distance make this hike one of the more accessible trails in the area. If you time your hike after a rainy day, the waterfall will be at its best.

6. Papago Park, Tempe

Sunset is the ultimate time to explore the many trails in Papago Park. Scattered with massive sandstone buttes, Papago represents that classic desert landscape we all remember from old Western movies. The four different trails are easy, so this park is more about getting out of the city rush and enjoying the desert quiet.

7. Pinnacle Peak, Scottsdale

View of Pinnacle peak in Scottsdale arizona

Image via Flickr by Kelly DeLay

Pinnacle Peak itself is a 600-foot granite summit that hikers of most abilities can climb to enjoy the spectacular views only that kind of vantage point can offer. Furthermore, Pinnacle Peak Park offers night hiking and astronomy programs, meaning not only can you experience the desert after dark, but you can also learn about the true final frontier.

If the hiking around Phoenix isn’t enough of a draw, the city itself boasts superb dining options, Southwestern cultural attractions, and excellent accommodations around the Phoenix area. Often named one of the best hiking cities in the United States, it would be crazy to breeze through town without experiencing at least one of these amazing trails. In my case, I’ll be exploring all of them!

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Phoenix Arizona is one of the best cities for day hiking in the entire USA. With all kinds of excellent trails ranging in difficulty just a stone's throw from the city limits, it will be a challenge to just pick one!

2 thoughts on “7 Top Day Hikes Around Phoenix Arizona

  1. My aunt and uncle lived in Sunsites, AZ. I loved wandering around the countryside, but only super early in the morning. They took me all over the place and I had a great time hiking about, eating picnic lunches, and enjoying the wildlife (meaning the birds, reptiles and mammals).

    1. Thanks Gail, what wonderful memories! Researching the area and hearing your memories definitely will send me that way sooner rather than later, love the idea of such amazing places to see around Phoenix that are so incredibly beautiful!
      Cheers,
      Emily

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