The author, Betty Hurd with her friends during their hikes near Phoenix, Arizona

15 Best Hikes Near Phoenix in 2023 (By a Local)

I was born and raised in Arizona and after years of exploring, I’ve put together this ultimate guide on the best hikes near Phoenix! 

Immersing yourself in Sonoran Desert beauty is one of Phoenix’s best things to do. This round-up features everything from short uphill climbs to day-long treks, which I’ve ordered from easiest to most difficult.

I share popular Phoenix hiking destinations, as well as hidden gems where you can escape the crowds and take in unbelievable views.

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. See our Advertising Policy for further explanation. Thank you!

15 Best Hikes Near Phoenix

Hole in the Rock Trail

An easy trail to gorgeous sunset views from this unique formation in Papago Park.

People watching the sunset at the Hole in the Rock Trail
This is easily my favorite sunset spot in Phoenix

🥾 Easy | 0.3 miles | Google Maps | Papago Park Website | Drive Time from Phoenix: 5 minutes | Cost: Free

Hole in the Rock Trail is one of the most popular Phoenix hikes. It’s a super easy trail to conquer as it’s basically a brief scramble up the orange rocks from the parking lot. The west-facing city views from the top make it a wonderful spot to enjoy the vibrant Arizona sunsets that make Phoenix so special.

Papago Park is also home to some of the best things to do in Phoenix. Check out the Phoenix Zoo and the Desert Botanical Gardens before ending your day with a hike to this lovely lookout.

👉 Pro Tip: Explore further on 2.2-mile Double Butte Loop Trail located across from this lookout spot. Get AllTrails+ to help you confidently navigate the area.  

White Tank Waterfall Trail

An easy journey to a (sometimes) running waterfall north of Phoenix.

Cacti along the White Tank Waterfall Trail
My friend, Elle, searched for petroglyphs on her way to this seasonal waterfall

🥾 Easy | 1.9 miles | Google Maps | White Tank Mountain Regional Park Website | Drive Time from Phoenix: 1 hour | Cost: $7 Parking Fee

White Tank Waterfall Trail is ideal for families hiking with children. The first half-mile is paved, suitable for strollers and wheelchairs, and the remainder features a gentle elevation gain. 

The trail is a great little trek through common desert scenery. There are even a handful of unique petroglyphs etched into the granite rocks along the path. Make sure to check out White Tank Mountain Regional Park after the summer rains if you want to see the falls flowing.

Brown’s Ranch Trail

This beautiful loop boasts desert wildlife and lush scenery in McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

View of cacti at the Sonoran Desert
The Sonoran Desert scenery here is some of the best in the Phoenix area

🥾 Easy | 2.3 miles | Google Maps | McDowell Sonoran Preserve Website | Drive Time from Phoenix: 40 minutes | Cost: Free

Brown’s Ranch Trail is great for beginners. It’s equally beautiful and quiet. The lovely loop features gorgeous blooming cacti during the spring and dense greenery after the summer monsoons. Make sure to stay on the trail to avoid unwanted encounters with the prolific wildlife in this gorgeous area near Scottsdale.

Granite Mountain Loop

Take an effortless hike through incredible desert scenes north of Scottsdale.

Colorful flowers blooming at the Granite Mountain Loop
Springtime hikes in Phoenix are enchanting, as Elle captured in this shot

🥾 Easy | 6.2 miles | Google Maps | McDowell Sonoran Conservancy Website | Drive Time from Phoenix: 30 minutes | Cost: Free

The gorgeous Granite Mountain Loop provides a relaxing stroll through granite rocks and desert blooms. The trail is in great shape, and it’s easy to maneuver for all skill levels. However, there isn’t much shade on this loop, so start early to avoid the hot sun.

Granite Mountain is a timeless favorite for visitors and locals alike. This hike is a great activity for those spending the weekend exploring the Scottsdale area. It offers a great representation of the desert beauty surrounding the city. 

Pyramid Peak Loop

A quiet challenge around a scenic range of jagged peaks just north of the city.

Women during their hikes at the Pyramid Peak Loop
Elle and our friends navigating the tough switchbacks to the peak

🥾 Moderate | 3.5 miles | Google Maps | Drive Time from Phoenix: 1 hour | Cost: Free

Get your workout in at Pyramid Peak, located directly north of Glendale. There are a few technical sections of this trail, so it’s probably best not to bring small children along. There are plenty of great mountain biking sections of the loop if you prefer to explore on two wheels.

Pyramid Peak looks intimidating from the bottom, but it’s super manageable as long as you take it at your own pace. The switchbacks can be killer if you try to rush them!

Hidden Valley Trail via Mormon Trail

This trail features tight squeezes and rocky tunnels in South Mountain Park.

View of the entrance to the Fat Man’s Pass
Squeeze through Fat Man’s Pass in Hidden Valley

🥾 Moderate | 3.6 miles | Google Maps | South Mountain Park/Preserve Website | Drive Time from Phoenix: 15 minutes | Cost: Free

Hidden Valley is one of the most fun areas to explore near Phoenix. The up-and-down landscape in South Mountain Preserve is littered with granite boulders and hulking saguaros. This trail features cool rock formations, some of which you have to shimmy between throughout the hike. Check out Fatman’s Pass if you’re not afraid of tight spaces!

I recommend Hidden Valley to anyone who wants a unique Phoenix hiking experience. This area is simply special.

Pinnacle Peak Trail

Get your exercise for the day with this scenic trek through up-and-down switchbacks.

A woman wandering at the Pinnacle Peak Trail
The bouldered trails near Pinnacle Peak are covered in desert wildflowers

🥾 Moderate | 3.8 miles | Google Maps | Pinnacle Peak Park Website | Drive Time from Phoenix: 40 minutes | Cost: Free 

Pinnacle Peak is one of the most popular Phoenix hikes. It’s rated moderate, but it definitely will leave you tired and breathless no matter your fitness level.

The trail has lots of alternating sections of incline and decline. You’ll be grateful for the moments of downward respite between steep upward treks. Make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks to ensure you keep up your energy through this beautiful yet challenging desert landscape.

Holbert Trail to Dobbins Lookout

A popular dog-friendly South Mountain trail with plenty of photo ops along the route.

The Dobbins Lookout in Phoenix at night
Dobbins Lookout is an incredible evening hike with unmatched downtown Phoenix views

🥾 Moderate | 4.2 miles | Google Maps | South Mountain Park/Preserve Website | Drive Time from Phoenix: 15 minutes | Cost: Free

Holbert Trail to Dobbins Lookout is one of the best Phoenix hikes. It offers sweeping desert and city views, and it certainly has some challenging sections. It’s manageable enough to accomplish through the summer heat. However, I recommend setting out at dawn to ensure plenty of shade along the route. 

Make sure to bring plenty of water as this one takes a few hours to conquer. You’ll feel rewarded by the views from Dobbins Lookout!

Dixie Mountain Loop

Desert flora and fauna abound in the Phoenix Sonoran Desert Preserve.

View during a hike in Dixie Mountain Loop
Thank you to my friend, Elle, for this beautiful photo!

🥾 Moderate | 4.6 miles | Google Maps | Sonoran Preserve Website | Drive Time from Phoenix: 25 minutes | Cost: Free 

Dixie Mountain Loop is one of my all-time favorite hikes in Phoenix. It’s a versatile path perfect for dog walking, horseback riding, and mountain biking. You’ll likely encounter a handful of other people here no matter what day of the week you visit, but it rarely feels overcrowded.

This area is teeming with desert wildlife. Stay on the designated trail to avoid any trouble with local critters and plants that poke. Dixie Mountain is also quite rocky, so make sure to wear your sturdiest hiking boots! 

🥾 My Favorite Gear: REI Co-op Flash Hiking Boots 

Piestewa Peak

The best city and surrounding desert views are just a 15-minute drive away in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve.

Overlooking view from the top of Piestewa Peak
My friend, Elle, shared her view from the top of Piestewa Peak

🥾 Difficult | 2.3 miles | Google Maps | Phoenix Mountain Preserve Website | Drive Time from Phoenix: 15 minutes | Cost: $7 Parking Fee

Piestewa Peak is a local favorite thanks to the prolific natural beauty on display so close to the city. It’s located in Camelback East Village / Arcadia, some of the best Phoenix neighborhoods

This difficult trail requires strength and stamina, but the challenge is worth it for the fantastic views along the way. You can take this trail at your own pace if the incline proves strenuous for you. I certainly took this one at a very leisurely speed! It’ll all be worth it once you get to the top, no matter how long the journey takes.

Camelback Mountain via Echo Canyon Trail

The most iconic mountain in Phoenix offers a short yet challenging hike to citywide views.

A cactus along the train in Camelback Mountain
The desert nature on this side of Camelback is breathtaking, as Elle captured in this shot

🥾 Difficult | 2.6 miles | Google Maps | Camelback Website | Drive Time from Phoenix: 15 minutes | Cost: $3 Parking Fee

No other mountain stands out in Phoenix like Camelback Mountain. The famous formation looks, well, like a humpback camel! It’s a beautiful area just north of the city. Camelback Mountain proves challenging for even the most seasoned hiker. Admire sprawling city and desert views after a tough uphill battle on this iconic trail.

📚 Related Reading: Where to Stay in Phoenix

Wave Cave Trail

Hands down, this is one of the best hikes in the Superstition Mountains.

View of a woman at the Wave Cave
The views of the valley are unreal from the Wave Cave!

🥾 Difficult | 3 miles | Google Maps | Drive Time from Phoenix: 1 hour | Cost: $15 Individual Permit

The Wave Cave Trail is one of my top hikes in Phoenix. The Superstition Mountains are breathtaking and unique. Wave Cave is truly a sight to behold. The trail ends after a steep scramble to a lost goldmine. Reward yourself with a picnic lunch in the cave as you take in the incredible views near Gold Canyon.

This trail is also super close to some of the best lakes in Arizona. Add a beach day to your weekend itinerary if you venture to the Superstition Wilderness. I especially recommend Canyon Lake, one of the top day trips from Phoenix

👉 Pro Tip: Watch out for bees in the cave. Wear insect repellent just in case!

Tom’s Thumb Trail

A tough out-and-back trail that leads to incredible views of the McDowell Mountains.

Blue sky over the Tom’s Thumb Trail
There is something so special about the McDowell Mountains

🥾 Difficult | 4 miles | Google Maps | McDowell Sonoran Preserve Website | Drive Time from Phoenix: 40 minutes | Cost: Free

The popular Tom’s Thumb Trail will certainly give you a leg workout. The first mile or so is consistently uphill. After that, there are a few forgiving sections as you continue up to the summit. 

The views are spectacular throughout the trek, so the physical exertion is well worth it. Experienced hikers should be more than fine on this trail, but beginners might consider bringing trekking poles.

Flatiron via Siphon Draw Trail

This strenuous hike has some of the best views I’ve ever seen, especially during springtime blooms.

The author, Betty Hurd smiling and posing for a photo in Lost Dutchman State Park
I was thrilled when the desert daisies turned the Superstition Mountains bright yellow this spring

🥾 Difficult | 5.5 miles | Google Maps | Lost Dutchman State Park Website | Drive Time from Phoenix: 45 minutes | Cost: $7 Parking Fee

Flatiron is no easy feat. An experienced hiker will fare well, but be extra cautious if you’re a beginner. Portions of this steep trail are practically vertical, and other areas are dangerous and rocky. Prepare for an all-day hike (at least 6 hours) with ample water, solid hiking shoes, and snacks for stops along the way.

The sights from Lost Dutchman State Park are incredible and make the difficult trek worth it, though. I think the Superstition Mountains are the most spectacular in the Phoenix area, and I’d recommend even checking out just the beginning section of this trail for the views. Consider packing overnight gear, too, as this is one of the best places to camp in Arizona

McDowell Sonoran Preserve Loop

A lengthy loop through gorgeous mountains and dense desert vegetation.

View of cacti along the McDowell Sonoran Preserve Loop
Elle encountered cholla cacti along the entirety of this desert trail

🥾 Difficult | 14.5 miles | Google Maps | McDowell Sonoran Preserve Website | Drive Time from Phoenix: 30 minutes | Cost: Free

McDowell Sonoran Preserve Loop is one of the most difficult Phoenix hikes for multiple reasons. First, it’s a long hike. More than 14 miles of rocky trail make for an all-day exploration, so prepare accordingly. It’s also got some serious incline. There’s a nearly 4,000-foot elevation gain from the start to the summit. There are some neat rock climbing routes here as well.

This trail gets a little hairy in some areas. Pay close attention to trail markers, especially when you start bushwacking more than hiking! Trust me, AllTrails+ will come in handy. McDowell Sonoran Preserve Loop is an incredible choice for experienced hikers seeking a true outdoor adventure in the Sonoran Desert.

👉 Pro Tip: Prefer a shorter trek? Tom’s Thumb Trail, mentioned above, makes up a 4-mile section of this long trail. 

FAQs About Phoenix Hikes

What is the most scenic trail in Phoenix?

The most scenic trail in Phoenix is the Granite Mountain Loop, in my opinion. The desert flowers and wildlife paired with stellar mountain vistas and city views are breathtaking.

Does Phoenix have good hiking?

Phoenix has very good hiking! Some of the best hikes in Arizona are found near the capital city. I especially recommend Brown’s Ranch Trail, Dixie Mountain Loop, and Wave Cave Trail. Though, there are hundreds of hiking trails in several scenic mountain ranges nearby. 


Now you know all about the most incredible hikes near Phoenix! I hope you enjoy trekking through these beautiful Sonoran scenes. See my guide to places to visit in Arizona for more travel inspiration! 

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