The Best Hiking in the Phoenix Desert

Phoenix is a growing metropolitan hub of night life, shopping, and skyscrapers; but it is also surrounded by a desert filled with gorgeous mountains and...
hiking in the phoenix desert

Phoenix is a growing metropolitan hub of night life, shopping, and skyscrapers; but it is also surrounded by a desert filled with gorgeous mountains and dynamic wildlife. This is why hiking in Phoenix is considered a main activity for locals and those visiting the area. Both city-dwellers and outdoor enthusiasts can discover a trail that caters to their personal skill level, view preference, and desired mileage.

The valley is also a great place for year-round hiking -- although when the temperatures peak in the summer months, it’s best to either pack up and migrate north or set an early alarm to beat the heat! The best time to hit Phoenix hiking trails is usually from October to May.

When it comes to deciding on which trail to embark on, we’ve done the research for you. Here are some of the best hiking trails in Phoenix (+ our personal favorites!).

For The Best Views

Pima West Trail

This trail in the South Mountain Preserve provides a fairly moderate hike to some amazing views of downtown Phoenix from the south. The Pima West Trail is about 3 miles long, but the South Mountain area has multiple trailheads to choose from.

Lost Dog Wash Trail

A longer, but still moderate hike that approaches Sunrise Peak in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. This 6 mile trail features a light incline and is filled with wildflowers, cacti, and mountain surroundings. The hike is mostly flat at the beginning, but climbs towards the end to reach the breathtaking views from Sunrise Peak. This hike is especially beautiful during sunrise or sunset.

Best hiking trails in Phoenix, Lost dog wash

Papago Park

Just north of Tempe Town Lake, Papago Park is the spot to watch the sun set over the downtown skyline. It’s an easy trek from the parking lot to the base of the rock formations that are scattered throughout the park. Some of our favorite trails include the classic Hole in the Rock and the Papago Park Butte Loop.

For The More Seasoned Hikers

Piestewa Peak Summit Trail

This is a 2.1 mile trail and is rated as ‘hard’ by AllTrails. It’s fairly short but goes pretty much straight up to the peak. Enjoy views of the Sonoran desert and try some of the other trails along the way, such as the Freedom Loop and the Piestewa Peak Circumference. This is a trail known for its good sunset viewing.

Tom’s Thumb

Tom’s Thumb is a granite rock formation in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, which has some of the best places to hike in Phoenix. From the north side, you can enjoy views of the city and catch a glimpse of the Four Peaks. There are various trails for different levels, but a majority of them are ranked difficult in this area.

Hiking in Phoenix, Tom's Thumb


Camelback Mountain Park is probably one of the best known spots, and has some of the best trails in Phoenix. With over 200 miles of trails in the park, there is something for everyone. The Echo Canyon Trail is a bit more advanced with a steep incline and rugged terrain, but the views at the top are worth the effort.

Our Personal Favs

Dreamy Draw Trail

Probably one of our favorite hiking spots in Phoenix, Dreamy Draw Trail provides fairly easy hiking in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve that features multiple trails for all levels of hikers. Catch the sunrise on this 3 mile loop and start your day off right.

Dreamy draw trail in Phoenix, AZ

Bridle Path

More of a walking path than a hike, this 5 mile roadside path sprawls out from midtown Phoenix to Paradise Valley, along Central Ave. We love it because we feel as though we’re still in the city, but the sweeping trees and beautiful neighborhoods provide a refreshing escape.

Hiking Essentials @ Local Nomad

Although there are plenty hiking stores in Phoenix, you might want to first check out our collection of hiking essentials!

Girlfriend Collective leggings:


hiking essentials, girlfriend collective leggings


Silk hair scrunchie:

hiking essentials, silk scrunchie

Everyday Oil:

hiking in phoenix essentials, everyday oil

Looking for a post-hike spot to cool off and refuel? Check out our local’s guide to Phoenix for our favorite coffee shops, restaurants, and bars in the valley.