Hiking trails in Arizona are among the best in America. You’ll find diverse trail options for every skill level that offer great views along the way. That’s because this southwestern state is home to an array of ecosystems, from beautiful forests to desert landscapes and snow-capped peaks. Check out these top hiking trails, which are all located within a few hours of Phoenix.
7.4 miles (18 minutes) from Phoenix
If you are looking for a trail that is a bit more challenging, add the Hidden Valley via Mormon Trail to your list. During an elevation gain of more than 900 feet, you’ll encounter taxing inclines and rocky and gravelly areas, making hiking boots a better option than regular sneakers for this roughly 3.5-mile trail. Hidden Valley via Mormon Trail passes through Fat Man’s Pass, a narrow rock tunnel that you must squeeze through to reach the other side of the trail. Don’t worry if you can’t get through the narrow passageway: you can bypass Fat Man’s Pass by climbing over it.
10 miles (15 minutes) from Phoenix
Are you looking for an easy hiking trail? The Double Butte Loop is great for beginners. It is roughly 2.3 miles and circles the area’s small and large buttes. On the other side of Papago Park is the popular Hole in the Rock Trail, which is an easy 0.2-mile walk leading to a butte with a lookout hole, which you can go up to for a fun picture and awesome view of Phoenix.
11 miles (18 minutes) from Phoenix
This trail is a must for those who want to experience a challenging hike with a huge payoff of rewarding views at the summit. The 2.4-mile out-and-back path may not seem like much, but the ascent from 1,400 to 2,608 feet may leave you breathless. The views along the way are worth the effort. The trail itself is rocky, stair-like and dotted with cacti, ocotillo and wildflowers during the spring. Don’t forget to bring a camera so that you can capture the amazing views.
11 miles (19 minutes) from Phoenix
This 1.2-mile out-and-back trail is accessible from 16th Street in northern Phoenix. Don’t let the trail length fool you — this is a moderately challenging hike with an elevation gain of more than 450 feet. The view is worth it. Once you reach the summit, look south for a beautiful view of the Phoenix Mountains Preserve. There are also two more summits you can hike to, with views of the Camelback and Piestewa, if you want a longer, more challenging route.
12.8 miles (24 minutes) from Phoenix
Camelback Mountain is one of Phoenix’s best hiking and rock climbing destinations that also offers amazing views of the city. Echo Canyon Trail, roughly 2.4 miles out and back, is considered a difficult trail due to its elevation gain and the need to scramble over the exposed rock in some areas. Part of the trail gives you the ability to climb up 1,200 feet of elevation gain on a steep slope. Don’t forget your camera to capture the 360-degree views that Camelback has to offer. Make sure to bring enough water, as this trail is completely exposed to sunlight all day and can be very hot in the summer months.
23.8 miles (31 minutes) from Phoenix
This 4.1-mile loop trail is considered to be moderately challenging and takes a little over 2 hours to complete. The loop starts at the southern mountain and loops around to the northern mountain while offering stunning views of Dove Valley, a suburb of Phoenix and a beautiful community. The loop trail leads hikers to some summit trails that will give you access to the tallest peaks in the Southern Phoenix Sonoran Desert Preserve. The trail does have some very narrow spots and is fully exposed to the sun, so hikers must be aware of some of the challenges of reaching the peak.
28.8 miles (34 minutes) from Phoenix
This popular and challenging hiking trail leads to a soaring rock formation that resembles a thumb coming out of the ground. The 4-mile trail takes around 3 hours to complete, is considered strenuous and has a number of switchbacks. Keep an eye out for rock climbers once you reach the land of boulders, as this is a popular mountaineering spot.
33 miles (44 minutes) from Phoenix
This moderately challenging 3.5-mile out-and-back trail boasts a 2,750-foot gradual incline. While this trek does offer photo-worthy desert views, you won’t actually ascend to the summit as a hiker — the name is a bit of a misnomer — but you may see rock climbers on their way up.
33.3 miles (38 minutes) from Phoenix
This roughly 3-mile trail is perfect for beginners due to its flat paths. It’s so picturesque that you won’t be able to take your eyes off the scenery. You’ll find yourself surrounded by saguaros, ocotillos and chollas — not to mention the great view of Pass Mountain in the distance.
35.6 miles (1 hour) from Phoenix
One of the most interesting things about this easy 1.8-mile out-and-back trail is that there is a good number of ancient petroglyphs — some approximately 10,000 years old. There is also a waterfall at the end of the trail that appears after it rains. It is said to flow pretty heavily after several days’ worth of rainfall. Spring visitors will be welcomed by colorful wildflowers sprouting all around. Note that this park charges an entrance fee either per vehicle or per person for those who come in by foot, bike or on horseback.
40 miles (47 minutes) from Phoenix
This 4-mile out-and-back trail takes you up through a canyon known as Siphon Draw, which is said to be one of the state’s top places to hike. It’s also one of the most difficult climbs in the Superstition Mountains. One of the most challenging parts of the trail is ascending a large, steep basin, but reaching the top and looking back at the path you’ve conquered is definitely the highlight. Hiking in the spring is a wonderful experience, as you are likely to see many of the beautiful desert wildflowers in bloom.
Some hikers stop at the top of the basin, but it’s possible to continue toward Flatiron for one more mile. This last stretch is said to be challenging because the trail is not well marked and the scramble to the top of Flatiron requires you to climb 8 feet. This last part is doable by hand without professional climbing equipment, but it’s intimidating for some. Once you’re over the rock wall, you’ll enjoy unbelievable views of the colorful natural landscape and city below.
The greater Phoenix area offers some of the best hiking opportunities in the country. The views are incredible and there is a nice mix of trail options that appeal to hikers with different skill levels. As with any hike, be sure to bring plenty of water (about 1 liter per person per every 1-2 hours hiking), as well as sunscreen and bug spray to protect your skin. Be aware that you may encounter snakes and other wildlife on the trails. If there is a visitor’s center near the trail you’re hiking, stop by to find out more information about what you might encounter during your hike and what you should do on the off chance you do come across wildlife.