Arizona is a top destination to experience the American desert, and the best hikes in Phoenix showcase the finest scenery in the state. From leisurely strolls through desert washes to sky-high peaks with insane views below, there are no shortage of options to explore, with each trail offering a little something different.
Wander among colossal saguaros and colorful wildflowers under brilliant desert sunsets – the best hikes in Phoenix have something for everyone. Keep reading to discover the best hikes near Phoenix that shouldn’t be missed.
10 Best Hikes in Phoenix to Stretch Your Legs
Ready to get your blood pumping? Here are the ten best hikes in Phoenix that offer a little bit of everything: desert views, wildlife, and plenty of cacti. Happy hiking!
1. Dixie Mountain Loop Trail
Length: 4.6 miles
For epic variety, the Dixie Mountain Loop Trail is among the best hikes in Phoenix. This captivating trail features the best of the Arizona wilderness: towering saguaros, desert wildlife, and soaring mountains in the distance. The hike is an excellent choice for a moderate trail, as it climbs to the top of Dixie Mountain for unrivaled views before circling around the Sonoran Desert Preserve and ending at the start of the track. There are a few shady spots along the way, but remember to bring plenty of water to stay hydrated during this five-mile walk.
2. Camelback Mountain
Length: 1.25 miles (one way)
One of the most iconic locations in the area, Camelback Mountain is one of the best hikes in Phoenix if you’re after a challenge. This demanding trek takes walkers to the top of the highest summit in the greater Phoenix area, serving up insane views of the city and desert below.
Two tracks lead to the top of Camelback Mountain: the Echo Canyon Trail and the Cholla Trail. The Echo Canyon trail is the more popular of the two, so on days when there’s a lot of foot traffic, consider the alternate route instead.
Both ways are pretty difficult, with steep inclines that end in scrambling to the summit. It’s an extremely rewarding climb, but hiking boots are essential, and there’s no shade, so start early in the day to beat the Arizona heat.
3. Tom’s Thumb
Length: 4 miles
Tucked away in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Tom’s Thumb is a well-marked trail that sees an insane amount of people every day. It’s no wonder why, considering this popular track is challenging but not too hard, making it an attractive option for most fitness levels.
Expect a well-maintained trail with steep switchbacks leading to expansive boulder fields filled with stunning desert flora and fauna. If you start early in the day (before 8 am), you’ll beat the crowds on the way up and may even have the summit to yourself to enjoy a peaceful sunrise and vistas as far as the eye can see.
4. Gateway Loop Trail
Length: 4.4 miles
The Gateway Loop Trail is one of the best hikes in Phoenix to experience massive saguaros. This relatively easy track, suitable for beginners, winds through the desert wonderland with mountainous views. It’s quite rocky without any shade, so start early in the day and watch your step.
The biggest downside to this hike is it’s always swarming with people, both locals and visitors getting some exercise. But if you start before 8 am, there will be far less foot traffic, though likely still some folks out for a stroll.
5. Hole in the Rock Trail
Length: 0.3 miles (one way)
This is one of the best hikes in Phoneix for beginners and kids. With less than half a mile of ground to cover, this short trek leads to impressive red sandstone buttes, including the famous Hole in the Rock. Once you reach the base of the formation, there are steps leading into the heart of the hole, where you can catch a sunset or simply enjoy the views below.
This is one of the best hikes in Phoenix for a few reasons: it’s doable for most fitness levels, it’s in close proximity to the city, and it holds great historical significance. The Hole in the Rock was used in prehistoric times to track the solstice based on how the sun shines through the gap in the stone, making it a great choice for history buffs or anyone looking for a scenic stroll.
6. Pinnacle Peak Trail
Length: 4 miles
A rewarding four-mile tramp through Pinnacle Peak Park, this is among the best hikes in Phoenix if you’re looking for something near Scottsdale. It follows a well-maintained track through some of Arizona’s most gorgeous scenery, with all sorts of cacti varieties and plenty of wildlife spotting opportunities. With varied elevations, it’s an interesting walk, though it can be slippery at some points, especially on the descent.
This hike is best known for its breathtaking views – it starts with golf courses and houses, but beyond the city sights, you get sprawling mountain tops, a tremendous valley, and wildflowers lining the track. It’s perfect for sunset, but remember to return to the parking lot before the gate closes at dusk.
7. Lost Dog Wash Loop Trail
Length: 4.4 miles
Another gem in McDowell Sonoran Preserve, the Lost Dog Wash trailhead sees plenty of activity as it’s the gateway to the southern portion of the preserve. The first section of the track climbs up the Old Jeep Trail before covering expansive desert washes and following a ridge for views of the valley below. Though there’s some gradual climbing, it’s not a particularly strenuous trail and offers a lot to enjoy along the way, which is why it’s considered a local treasure.
8. Mormon Trail Loop
Length: 4.7 miles
The Mormon Trail Loop is a worthy alternative to the famous National Trail since it’s an easier route with similar views. The trail starts with a steady climb that offers exciting views of downtown Phoenix and the highest peaks in the area, like Camelback Mountain and Four Peaks. After walking for about a mile, the Mormon Trail reaches the National Trail, which creates a loop when coupled with a short track that heads west, back to the starting point. Keep your eyes open for coyotes, along with numerous cacti varieties and desert lizards.
9. Piestewa Summit Trail
Length: 2.1 miles
For one of the best hikes in Phoenix for views of the city, trek to the summit of Piestewa Peak. It’s a short walk but very steep and rocky, though well worth it for the marvelous views. It’s a particularly remarkable sunset or sunrise spot as colors paint the sky and the lights begin to come on in the city below. But even if you tackle it early in the morning, expect to share the trail with plenty of other eager hikers.
10. Telegraph Pass Trail
Length: 2.3 miles
This Phoenix hike is right next to the city, which makes it a popular destination for locals and anyone looking for an easy stroll near Downtown. Sitting in the South Mountain Park and Preserve, the Telegraph Pass Trail starts from East Telegraph Pass Road and weaves through the Phoenix wilderness until hitting the Desert Foothills Trailhead and ending at Summit Road. It starts off flat and easy before a nice steady incline reaches the top. Keep your eyes peeled for prehistoric petroglyphs, and catch a sunset at Telegraph Lookout.
7 More of the Best Hikes Near Phoenix
Looking for more of the best hikes near Phoenix? Here are some other options that are close by and well worth considering if you’re chasing desert views.
- Double Butte Loop Trail: Another great Papago Park trail, combine the Double Butte Loop with the Hole in the Rock Trail for a longer day exploring the area.
- Lookout Mountain Summit Trail: One of the best hikes near Phoenix for a short, highly rewarding trail with views of the north part of the city.
- Wind Cave Trail: Awesome intermediate trail with excellent views. One of the best hikes near Phoenix for kids and dogs.
- Desert Tortoise Trail: Moderately difficult loop with lots of cholla cacti and desert scenery.
- White Tank Waterfall Trail: Short trail with a seasonal waterfall and hieroglyphics. Great for kids – visit after rain to see the falls.
- Blevins Trail: Flat hiking and biking trail with lots of cacti variety near Mesa.
- Brown’s Ranch Trail: One of the best hikes near Phoenix for history lovers. Explore trails through an old ranch with information panels and desert scenery.
Campervan Rental Phoenix
Ready to explore all the best hikes in Phoenix? A terrific way is with a campervan rental, which allows you to make the most of the expansive Arizona desert. Easily travel between different hikes and sleep under the stars after a long day of wandering through cacti and wildflowers. Whether you’re a local looking to explore your backyard, or a visitor from out of state hoping to soak in the desert wonderland, a campervan is the ultimate way to experience all that Phoenix (and beyond) has to offer.
TB Outdoor Rentals offers campervan and RV hire in Phoenix. With rigs of all sizes suitable for every budget, there are no shortage of options to achieve the trip of your dreams.
Ready to see Phoenix in a whole new light? Click here to check out campervan rentals to take your trip to the next level.