A Guide to Hiking in Phoenix

South Mountain Park and Preserve, Mormon Trailhead, and Hole in the Rock are just a few of the many outstanding hiking trails in Phoenix.
Written by Nathan Porceng
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Updated on Jun 06, 2022
From romantic walks to Instagram spots,
boasts several excellent hiking trails such as South Mountain Park and Preserve and Hole in the Rock.
Hiking probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Phoenix. Given the city’s infamously high temperatures, you may be tempted to maximize your time in the air-conditioned indoors—but you’d be missing out. Phoenix has many outstanding hiking trails, you just need to know where to go, and how to tackle them.
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The best hikes in Phoenix

Phoenix is known for its low cost of living, excellent professional basketball team, and sky-high temperatures. But did you know that Phoenix is also a low-key hiker’s paradise? The following are just a few of the many trails you should try out when spending time in the Phoenix area.

Best for views: South Mountain Park and Preserve

Distance: 16,000 acres
Difficulty: Varied
Trail type: Varied 
Elevation gain: 3,270 feet
Parking: Yes
Dogs: Yes
Starting point: 10919 S Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85042
Officially designated as a Phoenix Point of Pride,
South Mountain Park and Preserve
is the largest municipal park in the United States. It sprawls over 16,000 acres of mountainous terrain and contains over 58 miles of hiking, cycling, and horseback riding trails.
The park’s lookout point climbs over 1,000 feet over the desert floor. Roads allow vehicular access to the park’s summit and ramadas for those short on time and energy.
South Mountain Park and Preserve contains many interesting flora and fauna, the most notable of which is the Elephant tree, which sports multiple, contorted, trunk-like extensions.
Fun Fact South Mountain Park and Preserve is known for its chuckwalla population. With 65 chuckwallas per hectare, South Mountain Park and Preserve has the highest density of these beautiful lizards ever reported.

Best for dogs: Dreamy Draw Recreation Area

Distance: 3.7 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Trail type: Loop
Elevation gain: 616 feet 
Parking: Yes
Dogs: Yes
Starting point: 2421 E Northern Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85020
Dreamy Draw
is a lovely hiking area with access to the High Sonoran Desert. The trail begins in a small draw, or valley, then progresses upward, giving hikers the sensation of crossing several plant zones. The trail has a mild elevation pitch and multiple places to rest in the shade, making it perfect for you and your furry companion to explore.
Dreamy Draw is currently closed for water pipe maintenance. The trail should reopen in fall 2022

Best for Instagram: Mormon Trailhead

Distance: 4.7 miles
Difficulty: Moderately challenging
Trail type: Loop
Elevation gain: 1,167 feet
Parking: Yes
Dogs: Yes
Starting point: 8610 24th St, Phoenix, AZ 85042
You hike for exercise. You hike to enjoy nature. You hike for the Gram.
Mormon Trailhead
is the perfect place to snap a picture of Phoenix’s natural beauty to share with your followers, friends, and family. The trail is a bit rugged and posts an elevation gain of over 1,000 feet and offers little shade, but what you pay in sweat will be rewarded in beauty.
Climbing Mormon Trailhead will allow you to view Phoenix’s spectacular desert scenery in all its glory. You will also have the opportunity to take in picturesque views of the city itself. 
Pro Tip Dogs are allowed at Mormon Trailhead, but they must be kept on a leash.

Best for families: Hole in the Rock 

Distance: 0.3 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Trail type: Out and back
Elevation gain: 32 feet
Parking: Yes
Dogs: Yes
Starting point: 625 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix, AZ 85008
Dreaming of a soothing family outing in nature? Trying to burn some of your toddler’s boundless energy? Hole in the Rock is the trail for you!
Hole in the Rock
is a manageable 0.3 miles in length and is nearly perfectly flat, making it accessible for children of all ages. Though it's a short trail, Hole in the Rock is Phoenix-famous for its series of eroded openings in its sandstone hills. 
Hole in the Rock is also rich in history. It is believed that the Hohokam, early inhabitants of the Phoenix area, used the position of sunlight passing through one of the holes to mark the seasons.

Best for dates: North Mountain Park

Distance: 1.7 miles
Difficulty: Varied
Trail type: Varied
Elevation gain: 675 feet
Parking: Yes
Dogs: Yes 
Starting point: 10608 N 7th Street, Phoenix, AZ, 85020
If going to dinner and a movie was never really your thing or you’re looking to shake things up on your next romantic outing, head on down to
North Mountain Park
for a hike.
North Mountain Park offers spectacular views of downtown Phoenix and the surrounding desert scenery. The park contains many hiking trails of varying difficulty leading to two summits. North Mountain Park also has a visitor center on-site.
North Mountain Park is perfect for doggie dates as well! Its trails are known as some of the most dog-friendly in the Phoenix area.
Pro Tip Like all Phoenix area hikes, North Mountain Park can get extremely hot. Make sure you pack plenty of water before you go and stop frequently to hydrate.
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Best for exercise: Camelbak Hike

Distance: 2.4 miles
Difficulty: Challenging
Trail type: Point to point
Elevation gain: 2,704 feet
Parking: Yes
Dogs: No
Starting point: 5700 N Echo Canyon Dr, Phoenix, AZ, 85018
If you’re trying to crush some calories and push your body to its limits,
Camelbak Hike
is the trail for you.
Located 20 minutes outside of downtown Phoenix, Camelbak Hike is easily accessible by car. In fact, getting there might be the easiest thing about Camelbak. Though the trail is just 2.4 miles in length, it climbs a wicked 2,704 feet high into the desert sky.
As the name implies, you must pack water and hydrate often while hiking Camelbak. Dogs are not allowed on this popular Phoenix trail.

Tips for hiking in Phoenix

So we’ve convinced you to try hiking in Phoenix. Before you go, make sure you follow these tips for a successful, safe, and respectful hike: 
  • Pack water. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again—Phoenix is hot. Make sure you stay hydrated by packing lots of water. You should drink 0.5 liters of water for every hour you spend hiking.
  • Bring sunscreen, apply it, and reapply it. The Arizona sun can be a cruel and unforgiving hiking companion. Bring lots of sunscreen and reapply it frequently. We recommend a minimum SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Be mindful. If you bring it in, take it out. Leave no trace of your hike so that others may enjoy Phoenix’s natural beauty to its purest possible extent. 
  • Start early. Few enjoy waking up early. What you will enjoy is beating the crowds and the heat on your hiking excursion. 

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