18 Best Hikes In Phoenix And Beyond

Phoenix seems to have an endless amount of hiking opportunities and if you look beyond the valley even more amazing hikes pop up. Choosing your next adventure can be a challenge due to the countless hike options when realistically you most likely only have time for a few.

In order to help you choose your next adventure this guide lists the best hikes in phoenix, near phoenix, and even beyond from a local’s perspective.

Let’s be honest every hike has something great about it and narrowing down this list was pretty difficult. But, as a local, these are the hikes I’d recommend to my close and personal friends so they get the most bang for their buck and an overall amazing hiking experience in Phoenix.

Maximize your safety by also visiting 16 Expert Desert Hiking Tips You NEED To Know

What’s Included:

  • Hikes in Phoenix
  • Hikes near Phoenix- typically a 1-2 hour drive.
  • Hikes beyond Phoenix- typically 2-3 hour drive but still worthy.

Best Season For Hiking In Phoenix

Before we begin let’s cover a few safety items. Phoenix is known as the valley of the sun and this couldn’t be more true. The sun is almost always out and the UV ray index is harsher than most other areas across the US.

Not only that but the summer months reach dangerous temperatures. Please use caution, begin your hike early, and always check the daily high temperature before setting out to hike. Below is a little breakdown to hopefully help:

  • November-April are the best months for the hikes in phoenix and even the hikes near phoenix. The temperatures are much more comfortable but it does get really cold in the mornings and at night so bring layers!
  • June-August are the hottest months of the year and it is not suggested to be hiking in phoenix. Instead, check out the hikes beyond Phoenix for if you can get an early start you may still be able to enjoy them without overheating. It all comes down to where the hike is located and what the daily high is supposed to be.

Now let’s take a look at this list of the best hikes in Phoenix and beyond!

Best Hikes In Phoenix

1. Piestewa Peak

Piestewa Peak Summit- Hikes In Phoenix.

Hiking Distance | 2.1 miles
Difficulty | Difficult
Elevation Gain | 1,148 feet
Dog Friendly | No dogs allowed

A sunrise and sunset staple for locals is Piestewa Peak. It is just that good. The peak provides 360 degree views at the top so you’ll be able to see the sun rising and setting in any direction. Piestewa Peak makes you work for it though! It is a difficult hike that I like to call the stair master because it quite literally feels like you’re climbing the Eifel Tower.

This hike is located in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve just 15 minutes from downtown so you can bet it gets crowded. The parking lot isn’t very big so you may find yourself putting in a few extra steps to reach the trailhead but I promise it is worth it for the views. Arrive early to snag parking and beat the sun or time it right for sunset.

Read the full trail guide: How To Hike Piestewa Peak Summit Trail


This trail is closed once temperatures reach 100 degrees. The city has implemented this law due to too many hikers requiring rescue from heat related injuries. Please respect the law.

2. Camelback Mountain – Echo Canyon

Camelback Echo Canyon- Hikes In Phoenix.

Hiking Distance | 2.3 miles
Difficulty | Difficult
Elevation Gain | 1,134 feet
Dog Friendly | No dogs allowed

Another sunrise staple is Camelback Mountain via the Echo Canyon Trail. There are two trails that lead up to the top- Echo Canyon and Cholla Trail. Cholla is more scenic and a bit longer whereas Echo Canyon is shorter, steeper, and requires a bit of scrambling. Thus, making it the fun one to choose!

You’ll be using hand rails for assist and most likely find yourself needing your hands to help scramble up the steep sections. By the time you make it to the top your legs will feel like jello but the views will all but make up for it.

During December there is a gentleman known as ‘Camelback Santa’ who sets up a Christmas tree, dresses like Santa, and sits up there on the weekends. It draws the crowds to the top and even makes a great photo op!

Echo Canyon Trailhead is 22 minutes from downtown Phoenix and is closed from dawn to dusk. Typically parking in the dark just before the sun rises is allowed, but make sure your car is out of the lot once the sun is down or else you will be ticketed.


This trail is closed once temperatures reach 100 degrees. The city has implemented this law due to fatalities every year and too many hikers requiring rescue from heat related injuries. Please respect the law.

3. Tom’s Thumb

Tom's Thumb- Hikes In Phoenix.

Hiking Distance | 4.2 miles
Difficulty | Moderate
Elevation Gain | 1,086 feet
Dog Friendly | Yes

You guessed it- this hike received it’s name because the rock formation resembles a thumb. It is one of the most popular rock formations within the Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve for both hikers and rock climbers. If we’re being honest it does create a cool backdrop for a photo!

It is also a beautiful hike for you and your furry friend if you have one. The McDowell Mountains have some of the best views in Scottsdale that cannot be appreciated until you are in the mountain range itself. Hiking to Tom’s Thumb will take you into the range so you can see what I mean. The views open up into the range and you forget you’re surrounded by city.

Tom’s Thumb Trailhead is a 45 minute drive from downtown Phoenix but worth it. This area is only open from sunrise to sunset so be sure you don’t arrive too early or you’ll be locked out, and don’t leave too late or you’ll be locked in by the gate. Take it from me, I’d know.

Read the full trail guide: Tom’s Thumb Trail In Scottsdale- All You Need To Know

4. Gateway Loop Trail

Gateway Loop Trail- Hikes In Phoenix.

Hiking Distance | 4.3 miles
Difficulty | Easy-Moderate
Elevation Gain | 622 feet
Dog Friendly | Yes

My favorite hike in Phoenix to send out of towners to is the Gateway Loop Trail. It doesn’t climb too much elevation and is easy to follow which makes it a great introductory hike to the Phoenix desert. If you are a seasoned hiker you may find this one easy but if you’re new to hiking then it will be more on the moderate side.

Beginning right after sunrise is always my favorite because you can catch the sun coming up over the distant mountains, casting the softest golden yellow glow. Gateway Loop is very popular with the locals and their dogs so getting an early start will help you beat the crowds. Early bird gets the worm here.

Gateway Trailhead is located 32 minutes from downtown Phoenix and hosts a very large parking lot.

Read the full trail guide: The Gateway Loop Trail- A BEAUTIFUL Scottsdale Hike

Best Hikes Near Phoenix

Now let’s broaden our scope a bit and reach out a little further. The Phoenix valley is vast and it can take well over an hour to drive from one end to the other. So, if you’re willing to drive 1-2 hours for an epic hike, the below hikes near Phoenix are worth it!

5. Wave Cave

Wave Cave- Hikes Near Phoenix.

Hiking Distance | 3.0 miles
Difficulty | Moderate
Elevation Gain | 890 feet
Dog Friendly | Yes

One of the most unique cave hikes near Phoenix is the Wave Cave. It is located in the Superstition Mountains which are a very prominent mountain range on the east side of the valley which hold some of the best trails. The Wave Cave is a great introductory hike into all these rugged mountains offer.

Reaching the trailhead is a bit of a drive but very straight forward. You will have to drive down a well maintained dirt road but don’t worry because it doesn’t require high clearance or 4-wheel drive. If you decide to trek out this way you’ll get the chance to step out of the city and experience some solitude.

If you want to ‘ride the wave’ for the popular photo op I highly suggest reading the full trail guide below. It’ll help you navigate the trail and not take the common wrong turn!

Read the full trail guide: Local Guide To Wave Cave- The Superstitions Hidden Gem

6. Peralta Trail To Fremont Saddle

Peralta Trail To Fremont Saddle- Hikes Near Phoenix.

Hiking Distance | 4.7 miles
Difficulty | Moderate
Elevation Gain | 1,313 feet
Dog Friendly | Yes

Further down the dirt road from Wave Cave is the Peralta Trailhead which leads hikers deeper into the Superstition Mountains. The most popular route is to take Peralta Trail to Fremont Saddle and then turn around. At Fremont Saddle (pictured above) you’re rewarded with vast views into the mountains and a front row seat to Weaver’s Needle, the most popular rock formation in this area.

The hike to Fremont Saddle has it’s steep sections but is very scenic. If a storm has recently come and gone there will be pools of water and the entire area lush with greenery. The most scenic introductory hike into this mountain range is no doubt Peralta Trail to Fremont Saddle, especially at sunrise.

Read the full trail guide: NEW Peralta Regional Park: Complete Hiking & Camping Guide

7. Battleship Mountain

Battleship Mountain- One Of The Best Hikes Near Phoenix.

Hiking Distance | 12.0 miles
Difficulty | Difficult
Elevation Gain | 1,700 feet
Dog Friendly | No

If you’re looking for a challenge this one is for you! My all time favorite hike in the Superstition Mountains is Battleship Mountain and it is not to be underestimated. Between the long mileage and strenuous scrambling your body will be depleted and craving a full meal afterwards.

But as you can tell in the image above the views are well worth it. The last mile of the hike requires scrambling up to the ridge of the mountain and then continuing to scramble your way up and down to the other end. It is a truly a hike like no other.

It is also highly suggested to tackle this one with a partner or group due to the sheer drop offs and technicality involved. You don’t need ropes or any technical gear, but some determination, guts, and moral support will help you complete this one.

Read the full trail guide: Hike Battleship Mountain via. First Water Trailhead

8. Flatiron

Flatiron, Superstition Mountains- Hikes Near Phoenix.

Hiking Distance | 5.5 miles
Difficulty | Difficult
Elevation Gain | 2,582 feet
Dog Friendly | Yes, only the most experienced

The last strenuous yet thrilling hike in the Superstition Mountains is Flatiron. It is extremely popular by the locals and if you can conquer it they will automatically respect you as a hiker a little more than they did before. Simply because most locals deem this as the most difficult hike near Phoenix.

And there is some truth to that. For roughly 1.25 miles you will be scrambling rock, using your hands, and questioning your body’s ability to make it to the top. The scrambling section feels like it goes on forever and ever so being mentally strong going into this is a must. My favorite time to hike Flatiron is for sunset because the summit faces west and you get an unobstructed view.

Read the full trail guide: Ultimate Guide to Hiking Flatiron via Siphon Draw Trail

9. Picacho Peak

Picacho Peak Hike Via Hunter Trail- Hikes Near Phoenix.

Hiking Distance | 3.08 miles
Difficulty | Difficult
Elevation Gain | 1,667 feet
Dog Friendly | Yes, but not beyond the chains section.

Cables, sheer drop offs, and 360 degree views…what’s not to love? Picacho Peak puts your limits to the test as you climb the cables portion of the hike. If I’m being honest it really isn’t as bad as it looks! It is a strenuous hike so you definitely don’t want to hike when it is hot out because there’s hardly any shade. But the cables are extremely secure, there are boards for you to walk on, and the drop offs aren’t that bad.

Still, it is one of the most fun and thrilling hikes near Phoenix. Picacho Peak is located in the Picacho Peak State Park which has an entrance fee. If you aren’t afraid of heights and are willing to drive 1.5 hours, I say go for it!

Read the full trail guide: Ultimate Picacho Peak Hike Guide via The Hunter Trail

10. Browns Peak

Browns Peak- One Of The Best Hikes Near Phoenix.

Hiking Distance | 5.06 miles
Difficulty | Difficult
Elevation Gain | 1,814 feet
Dog Friendly | Yes, but not advised.

Ah, welcome to the most remote area on this list! Browns Peak is located in the Four Peaks Wilderness and is the tallest peak of the Four Peaks. The views on top are outstanding as it is one of the few hikes near Phoenix that actually give you that jagged mountain top perspective you’d see in Colorado.

Reaching this view isn’t easy because, well, when is it ever? The majority of Browns Trail is easy going and beautiful up until you face the scree chute. You’ll have to scramble up this slippery route in order to finish the trail and conquer the peak. The scramble itself isn’t super technical but can be dangerous so watch your footing and hike with a partner.

For in depth directions on how to get to Browns Peak and the what the scree chute looks like, visit the trail guide below!

Read the full trail guide: Conquering Browns Peak In The Four Peak Wilderness, Arizona

Best Hikes Beyond Phoenix

It is time to head north towards Sedona and the Grand Canyon! There are several amazing hikes beyond Phoenix but below are the ones you really won’t want to miss.

11. Waterwheel Falls

Water Wheel Falls- A Waterfall Hike Near Phoenix.

Hiking Distance | 1.6 miles
Difficulty | Easy-Moderate
Elevation Gain | 150 feet
Dog Friendly | Yes

Arizona isn’t all sand, dirt, and rock and Water Wheel Falls proves that! Located near Payson this little oasis is one of the easier and shorter water hikes around which naturally makes it popular with the locals. The trail follows along Ellison Creek and crosses it several times. In order to reach the falls you’ll need to cross the water and scramble a few parts first. It can be slippery so watch your step and have a tight hold on the little ones!

Families, dogs, and kids of all ages love jumping off the log by the falls and swimming in the pool of water. Ellison Creek is extremely cold but refreshing on a warmer day. If you’re feeling adventurous you can explore beyond Water Wheel Falls to see even more beautiful cascades.

The parking lot isn’t very large and there is a fee for day use- bring cash!

Read the full trail guide: Water Wheel Falls | Payson, AZ

12. Bob Bear Trail To Fossil Springs

Fossil Springs Waterfall- Hikes Near Phoenix.

Hiking Distance | 8.4 miles
Difficulty | Difficult
Elevation Gain | 1,522 feet
Dog Friendly | Yes

Another version of Arizona paradise is Fossil Springs, a beautiful blue-green waterfall that makes you really put in the work to reach it. The Bob Bear Trail begins in Strawberry and descends down to Fossil Creek over the course of 4.2 miles.

Swimming at the waterfall and exploring the hidden cave further down the trail is all the fun. Once it is time to head back to your car it is a grueling and tiresome climb because you’re hiking uphill. You’re also most likely tired and drained from the heat and swimming.

Needless to say, please hike this one with extreme caution! Pack plenty of water, salty snacks, and the proper hiking gear. It isn’t a little jaunt to a swimming hole- it is a difficult hike in the unforgiving arid desert.

A permit to park and hike is required from April 1 through October 1. You can purchase yours in advance on recreation.gov. I also suggest taking time to read more on the hike from the national park service and pay attention to all of the warning signs given!

13. Devil’s Bridge

Devil's Bridge In Sedona.

Hiking Distance | 4.0 miles
Difficulty | Moderate
Elevation Gain | 420 feet
Dog Friendly | Yes

If you’ve heard of Sedona then you’ve probably also heard of Devil’s Bridge, one of the most iconic hikes in the small red rock city. Visitors travel from all over the world to walk across this natural sandstone bridge and take their picture on it. I mean why wouldn’t they want to? It sure is impressive!

The best time to hike Devil’s Bridge is in the offseason during winter, early spring, or late fall at sunrise. The vibrant colors and soft lighting make it one of the best photo spots around. If you don’t get an early start then be prepared to stand in line! During peak seasons and times hikers will line up and wait their turn. There isn’t much shade either so it can be brutal.

I’ll let you decide if you’d rather be an early bird or chance standing in line under the sun for 30+ minutes!

Read the full trail guide: Hike to Devil’s Bridge in Sedona, Arizona

14. Cathedral Rock

Cathedral Rock Hike In Sedona.

Hiking Distance | 1.2 miles
Difficulty | Difficult
Elevation Gain | 556 feet
Dog Friendly | Yes, but not advised.

Another Sedona staple is Cathedral Rock, a short but very steep hike not far from the heart of the city. This one is extremely popular for elopements and couple’s photos because the sunset and sunrise here are phenomenal paired with surrounding rock formations.

Reaching the end of Cathedral Trail will definitely make you break a sweat. It is very steep at parts and the rock can be slippery so wearing the proper footwear is essential. The trail can also be difficult to follow at times as you’ll be hiking over exposed rock sections.

Prior to your visit I suggest taking a look at the Sedona Shuttle seasons and routes as the city as implemented a new system. You may not be able to drive yourself to Cathedral Rock or Devil’s Bridge trailheads!

Read the full trail guide: Hiking Cathedral Rock: All you need to know

15. Subway Cave

Subway Cave In Sedona- Hikes Near Phoenix.

Hiking Distance | 6.0 miles
Difficulty | Moderate
Elevation Gain | 668 feet
Dog Friendly | Yes

Sedona is full of hikes that lead to unique rock formations and Subway Cave is one of the best! It isn’t actually a cave but gives the illusion of one which still makes for interesting photography. This is another very popular one with visitors so getting an early start is best for parking and so you can be first in line to see the view pictured above.

Reaching the cave is also not the most straightforward thing. You’ll begin on Boynton Canyon Trail then veer off on an unmarked spur trail to get here. Sometimes the trail is blocked off while other times it isn’t. I suggest taking a look at the full trail guide below so you don’t miss it!

Read the full trail guide: EXACTLY how to find The Subway Cave off Boynton Canyon Trail

16. Aspen Nature Trail

Aspen Nature Loop- Hikes Near Phoenix.

Hiking Distance | 2.32 miles
Difficulty | Easy
Elevation Gain | 297 feet
Dog Friendly | Yes

Aspen Nature Trail is an Arizona local favorite, especially during the fall. Because the elevation is so high here the leaves turn a beautiful golden yellow and everyone flocks for photos. The loop isn’t just great during the fall season though. I like it in the summer because everything is so green, lush, and sometimes you can catch wildflowers adding a pop of color to the area.

The trailhead is located at Arizona Snowbowl, a ski resort in Flagstaff roughly 25 minutes from downtown. Aspen Nature Loop is perfect for families and even dogs because it doesn’t gain too much elevation and is short in distance.

Read the full trail guide: Hiking The Aspen Nature Loop In Flagstaff

17. Lockett Meadow Inner Basin

Lockett Meadow Inner Basin Trail.

Hiking Distance | 5.4 miles
Difficulty | Moderate
Elevation Gain | 1,202 feet
Dog Friendly | Yes

Flagstaff has a more remote trail for accessing the tall Aspens but it still stays packed during the fall season. Lockett Meadow hosts a quaint and relaxing campground as well as the trailhead for the Inner Basin Trail.

Take the Inner Basin Trail to the inner basin in the San Francisco Peaks and you’ll be transported through hundreds of Aspens. You’ll end at the inner basin and be rewarded with a stunning backdrop of tall mountain peaks. During summer this area comes alive and is a very peaceful spot for a picnic!

Read the full trail guide: Hike the Lockett Meadow Inner Basin Trail in Flagstaff, AZ

18. South Kaibab Trail

South Kaibab Trail At Sunrise In The Grand Canyon.

Hiking Distance | 1.8-14.3 miles
Difficulty | Easy – Difficult
Elevation Gain | 521-4,880 feet
Dog Friendly | No

You may have seen 14.3 miles and asked if I was crazy. Maybe, but hear me out. If you plan on hiking in Phoenix you can’t do so without actually visiting the Grand Canyon! The South Rim is the closest drive from Phoenix and the South Kaibab Trailhead is so stunning at sunrise that I suggest it as the go-to hike for visitors.

What makes South Kaibab Trail so great is that you don’t have to hike the entire thing. Hike to OOH-AAH Point which is 0.9 miles down, totaling 1.8 miles altogether. That is all it takes to witness the grandness of the canyon (pun intended) and experience it below the rim.

Sunrise on this trail is one of my all-time favorite hiking views, memory, you name it. It is that beautiful!

Read the full trail guide: How To Hike South Kaibab, Phantom Ranch, & Bright Angel In One Day

Final Thoughts On Hikes In Phoenix And Beyond

Well you sure have your options to choose from, don’t you? 18 amazing hikes in Phoenix and beyond will take you a while to conquer in entirety, especially since the prime time hiking season can be so short. But if you choose 1 or 2 to begin with I promise you’ll fall in love with Arizona again and again.

If I had to choose a favorite hike in each category it would be Piestewa Peak, Battleship Mountain, and the South Kaibab Trail. I’ve done each of these several times and they never get old.

I hope this guide has helped you find some amazing trails to put on your bucket list. Did I leave any out? Have you done some of these already? Share in the comments below!

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