Boasting over 40,000 acres of desert and mountain parks and preserves, Phoenix is the place for hiking aficionados. If a crowded trail isn’t your thing, the city offers plenty of lesser-known trails that offer tranquil, breathtaking views of town.
On the Flip-Side: Trail 1A
Ditch the crowds on Piestewa Peak’s popular trail and head to Dreamy Draw Park. Trail 100 slices across the Phoenix Mountains Preserve, connecting with Trail 1A a mile from the parking lot. After passing a natural amphitheater, where you’ll get better acoustics than singing in the shower, the trail then rockets up a short but steep climb to a viewpoint on Piestewa’s north face. But the show’s not over—switchbacks on the downside offer dozens of picture-worthy views.
Hike Without the Crowds
Lookout Mountain gives you a 300-foot elevation gain with smooth trails you can hike or jog on. Moderate inclines and wide trails mean the more physically fit can get a good workout running to the summit, where 360-degree views of the city await. It’s also a prime spot for watching the sun rise or set over the valley. Bring your smartphone; you can scan the barcodes on signposts to access a map of the park’s trails.
Natural History Trek: National Trail
South Mountain skips along the southern edge of Phoenix, and National Trail runs along its entire 15-mile length. Old stone houses greet you at the trailhead, and petroglyphs hide behind a boulder at the trailhead sign. Venture onward to enjoy panoramic views, diverse topography, wildlife and wildflowers. The moderate trail connects with other park trails to form a loop, or you can leave a car at the west end of the park to hike end-to-end.
Best Bet With a Pet: Deem Hills
Loop trails surround two volcanic hills on the city’s northwest side just west of Interstate 17. Known as Deem Hills Park, it has moderate hiking loops with connector trails that make it easy to custom tailor a hike. Climb the Ridgeline Trail for a 350-foot elevation gain with 360-degree views of the city. An onsite dog park lets your dog lounge in the shade after his walk or romp with like-sized buddies in an off-leash area.
For the Birds: Tres Rios Wetlands
More than 150 species of birds call the Tres Rios Wetlands in southwest Phoenix home. Tucked at the confluence of the Salt, Gila and Agua Fria rivers, Tres Rios is a magnet for songbirds and riparian species, but coyotes, bobcats, beaver and other wildlife live in the area as well. The easy trail runs through the wetlands’ 35 acres, skirting along wildlife viewing ponds and continuing along the Salt River, letting you customize your hike.
The Lush Life: The Sonoran Preserve
The Sonoran Preserve on the city’s northern edge features lush vegetation and is one of the city’s best places to see dazzling fields of springtime wildflowers. For a quick and easy 2-mile trek with views of the city, take an out-and-back hike on the Bobcat Trail. Continue on the moderate Dixie Mountain Trail for an extra 4-mile loop, and take a side trip up the difficult quarter-mile climb to the summit—if you dare!