Beginner’s Guide to Hiking in Phoenix

The Gina Kent Group, Phoenix, AZ:

The Beginner’s Guide to Hiking in Phoenix

By Zack Nicol, blogger at

Mother’s Day and Memorial Day are just around the corner and what better way to celebrate these days than by getting out and enjoying the beauty and the nature that Phoenix and surrounding areas has to offer? This is the Beginner’s Guide to Hiking in Phoenix. Enjoy!

Where to Go

As an avid Phoenix hiker myself, I have had the pleasure of exploring many of the fine trails that this city has to offer. I have narrowed them down to four friendly and exciting hikes across the Valley that offer beautiful views, gorgeous scenery, and an overall amazing experience.


Hike: Hayden Butte (“A Mountain”)

Description: This hike is located in the heart of Tempe, just seconds away from the Arizona State University Tempe campus. This is a quick .6 mile hike to a very cool 360 degree panoramic view of Downtown Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa, Chandler, Mill Avenue, and South Mountain. You can see for a good 50 miles in every direction. It is a very peaceful and easy hike, with an elevation gain of only about 250 feet. The path is paved for halfway and then is a simple hike up the rest of the way to the top. I would recommend this to anyone with small children or in a time crunch who wants a leisurely, yet rewarding hike in the Valley.

Click here for more information about Hayden Butte Mountain.



Hike: South Mountain

Description: South Mountain is one of the largest municipal parks in the world, covering over 16,000 acres just south of Phoenix. It overlooks Downtown Phoenix and Mesa and can also look down south as well. South Mountain has everything from horseback riding to bike trails to hiking and picnic spots. San Juan Road takes you all the way to the top of the mountain to the cell towers and the lookout point. There is also Dobbin Lookout which is a simple car ride to an overlook. I suggest driving up and getting out and exploring wherever you deem interesting. There is a large variety of trails and places to see that cannot recommend just one.

Click here for more information about South Mountain.



Hike: Camelback Mountain

Description: Camelback Mountain is the staple of hiking in Phoenix. Located in the heart of the Valley, Camelback gains 1200 feet in elevation over 1.5 miles to give you a panoramic view of the entire Phoenix metropolitan area. This is a very strenuous hike not meant for the casual hiker. I suggest getting to mountain early, both for parking and hydration reasons, and enjoying this beautiful yet difficult hike. Please note that this is a very popular hike so in order to find parking, get there very early in the morning.

Click here for more information about Camelback Mountain.


Hike: Siphon Draw

Description: Known by locals as Flat Iron, this hike begins in Lost Dutchman State Park. This is one of the harder hikes in the Valley. With an elevation gain of 1100 feet over the course of 6 miles roundtrip, Siphon Draw overs incredible views of the Valley. You can see from the east side to the west side along with catching glimpses of the Superstition Wilderness and Tonto National Forest. This hike is my personal favorite but also, I believe the hardest. This is not for the faint of heart and only very serious hikers should attempt this. It is a very rewarding view and is not as crowded as the other hikes.

Click here for more information about Siphon Draw.



What To Bring

Hiking in Phoenix is fun if you are well prepared. Make sure you have everything you need before you head out for a day on the trails.

The most essential part to hiking in Phoenix is WATER. I will say it a thousand times and a thousand times more: STAY HYRDRATED. One of the most common problems with hiking in Arizona is that people do not bring enough water. Oftentimes, people assume a water bottle or two is enough and it is not. I recommend buying a Camelbak to drink along the hike. It is recommended that a hiker drink a full quart of water for every hour hiked and a Camelback is the perfect way to carry that.

Check it out here.



During your hike, you will need snacks to keep you nourished and energized. I recommend getting Clif Bars to stuff in your Camelbak. These bars are packed full of protein and energy and they taste really good.

Check them out at your local retailer or online.

cliffbarsOne of the most crucial factors about hiking in Phoenix is the sun. You will be out in the heat and the sun for a couple of hours at a time and so sunscreen is important. Sunscreen is available at almost every store in America so just don’t forget to pick yourself up some before setting out for the day. If you can, also wear a hat!


Don’t Forget

When you are out enjoying Arizona and hiking, make sure not to forget the following things:


  1. Only attempt hikes if you are properly prepared and you have researched the hike beforehand. Know what trail you are on, how long it is, and about how long it should take.
  2. Tell someone where you are going. Remind a close friend or family member where you are going, how long it will take, when you are leaving, and when you should come back. Make sure to check in with them after your have completed the hike as well.
  3. Bring lots of water. Have water on the hike but also have water in the vehicle for when you complete the hike. I cannot overstress the importance of water while hiking in Phoenix.
  4. Wear a hat and wear high socks. The hat will protect you from the sun and getting sunburned. The socks will help keeps your legs unscratched and protected from low-lying shrubbery.
  5. If you pack it in, pack it out. There is no need to leave garbage or trash on the beautiful trails. Keep it with you and throw it out in a proper receptacle.

Phoenix is an amazing place to hike and explore and there are many cool places to get out and enjoy nature within minutes of the Valley. Enjoy responsibly, bring lots of water, and most importantly have fun!

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