The most wonderful thing about living in Phoenix is not how much there is to do at any given time or the endless sunshine, but the fact that you can go from sprawling metropolis to wild desert in just a few minutes. From the hiking havens of Papago Park and South Mountain Park, you can find a lot of nature to explore unexpectedly in the city. If you are looking to get out there the next time you have a day off, why not check out any of these great hiking trails?
Echo Canyon Trail on Camelback Mountain
Camelback Mountain is the highest peak in Phoenix and an Instagram favorite. Some people in the city start their morning with a trek up the difficult Echo Canyon Trail, but most others need a little time to work up to it. The trail features a 1,200-foot elevation gain in just over two miles, so at times this means a literal scramble on your hands and feet. However, the 360-view from the top is well worth the work.
Hole In The Rock Trail in Papago Park
If you need some time to work up to the harder trails, the Hole in the Rock Trail, at under a mile in length is a good warm-up. This out and back trail leads you to the hole in the rock, a popular landmark and once a solstice tracking tool for the native tribes. This literal hole in the rock gives you a great view of the city skyline as well as a nice little oasis.
Pinnacle Peak Trail
If you are looking for something you can customize on difficulty depending on how you feel, Pinnacle Peak can provide. You can choose the 1.75 easy trail if you just want to enjoy the saguaros and the iconic cholla cactus or you can challenge yourself with the more strenuous four-mile round trip. Regardless, this is a pretty good spot for sightseeing during the day and star-lit date at night.
Hidden Valley Trail in South Mountain Park
As the largest municipal park in the world – Yes, the world – there is quite a bit to explore across the 17,000 acres of the desert here. There are 58 miles of trails for hikers and bikers, so what makes the Hidden Valley Trail so much fun? Well, as it is not the smoothest trail in the area, it provides you with a solid opportunity for bouldering fun. This turns a simple hike that could take an hour or two into a potential whole day of fun.
Piestewa Peak Trail
Piestewa Peak is the alternative to Camelback. Unfortunately, even this alternative gets pretty crowded on a daily basis too. However, if you want a short, but very challenging hike to start off your day, it can provide. It climbs a similar 1,200 feet to Camelback, but this time in 1.2 miles. Just when you think you are at the top, it keeps ongoing. It is great for building mental and physical stamina.
The Mormon Trail in South Mountain Park
Do you want a trail that shows off everything that makes Phoenix hiking great? Then this trail is a must. It is just a 1.2 miles out and back hike, but as it gradually ascends up the ridge, you get a great view over Phoenix. From the skyline to the rock buttes of Papago Park in the distance, take the time to spot the tall Camelback and Piestewa Peak and soak it all in. You can also turn this hike into a 4.7-mile loop if you also want to check out the desert scenery in the area.