When you hear of Pinnacle Peak Trail you probably think you’re going to hike up to the rocky peak and have these amazing views of the valley. That isn’t the case, though. The name is a bit misleading since the trail actually leads you to the base of Pinnacle Peak and then skirts around it.
Some of you may be feeling a bit relieved about that- while others (like myself) are probably a little bummed inside. I was all for scrambling up there if I had to! But, Scottsdale decided to leave that for those who know how to actually climb with ropes. If you’re a rock climber you may have a chance of getting to the top of this peak! Find more about climbing it here.
As for the rest of us- we get to enjoy the well groomed trail and impressive mountain views along the way. In this post I go over everything you need to know about hiking the Pinnacle Peak Trail!
PINNACLE PEAK TRAIL STATS
Distance: 3.5 miles RT
Type: Out and Back
Elevation Gain: 1,030 feet
Location: Pinnacle Park, Scottsdale
Dogs Allowed: Only Service Animals
LOCAL TIP: This park has strict rules. I suggest reading them here before planning your visit!
HOW TO GET THERE
You can follow the directions below or map them from here!
It depends on where you’re traveling from, but you’ll most likely find yourself on the 101 Loop which will lead you to where you need to go! You’ll take the exit onto N Hayden Road, then a left onto E Thompson Peak Pkwy which will be not far from the 101.
Almost immediately you’ll turn left on N Pima Road and follow that until you reach E Happy Valley Road where you’ll take a right. Next you’ll turn left onto N Alma School Road.
You’ll find yourself traveling through really expensive neighborhoods then turning left onto N 102nd Way. The parking lot to Pinnacle Peak Park will be on the left. From there, the Pinnacle Peak Trail is marked and easy to find!
WHEN TO HIKE PINNACLE PEAK TRAIL
The best times to hike in the Phoenix valley are between November and May. Outside of those months it tends to be extremely hot and if do you choose to hike you’ll want to start once the trail opens and end before mid morning.
Pinnacle Peak Trail is only open from 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. and yes, they will kick you out! They have hikers who do a final sweep around 5:30pm from the end of the trail leading from E Jomax Road back to Pinnacle Peak Park. This makes the trail NOT a good option for sunset during spring and summer months because it closes before the sun even sets.
NOTE: Because of the trail hours and strict enforcement, this trail may not be a good sunrise or sunset hike depending on the season and current sunset/sunrise times.
HIKING PINNACLE PEAK TRAIL
Pinnacle Peak Trail is a great option for beginner hikers, runners who enjoy running urban trails, and just a quick getaway to some decent mountain views. I think this park is the perfect place to bring family from out of town who don’t want to do anything too strenuous but still get a feel for Arizona mountains!
That being said, expect it to be very busy during your visit and know that a lot of runners use this trail to get a workout in and are expected to yield to hikers.
Along the Pinnacle Peak Trail there will be some informational plaques about desert animals and foliage. They’ve also included 1/4 mile markers to help you keep track of how far you’ve hiked.
If you’re a beginner hiker this hike may be a more moderate one since it does gain a decent amount of elevation. No technical scrambling is required and the trail is wide and well groomed the entire way.
Usually there is a peak to summit or an end viewpoint on most hikes, but this one doesn’t do either. It actually skirts around the Pinnacle Peak and connects to E Jomax Road. Once you’ve made it to the edge of the mountains, there really is no point in hiking all the way to the road unless you are in it for the mileage! But once you’ve gone as far as you’d like, just turn around and head back to Pinnacle Peak Park!
LOCAL TIP: Only service dogs are allowed on this trail. If you’re looking for a great dog-friendly hike in Scottsdale, I’d suggest Tom’s Thumb!
FINAL THOUGHTS ON HIKING PINNACLE PEAK TRAIL
In all honesty I am not big on urban trails for they are crowded and most times in neighborhoods. However, if I were wanting a quick mountain to run off to, or take my friends and family from out of town somewhere, Pinnacle Peak Park would be on my list!
Despite the sprawling urban neighborhood views in one direction, I was actually impressed while hiking through these mountains. It was exactly what I needed to get my mini taste of desert mountains after a full day of work!
As always, please be considerate of the environment so we can keep enjoying it and remember to leave no trace.
Other Phoenix hikes:
- How to find Broadway Cave in the Superstition Mountains
- Wave Cave – Superstition Mountains
- Tom’s Thumb Trail in Scottsdale, AZ
- Peralta Trail to Fremont Saddle: Arizona Hiking Guide