This may be the only official hiking trail in Surprise, Arizona that provides elevated views of the valley so if you’re a local you’ll probably frequent this one. While Vietnam Memorial Trail isn’t quite worth an hour drive from the east side of the valley it is worth the effort if you find yourself in the area- especially for sunset!
The Vietnam Memorial Trail is a short trail that climbs up and down some good sized buttes providing those mountain desert views we all rave about. Along the first portion of the trail there are signs paying tribute to the local veterans from the Vietnam War as well as an American flag.
If you want to pay tribute to those who sacrificed their lives for our country, hiking this short but beautiful trail, reading the signs, and thinking of those we’ve lost is a free and easy way to do so. This guide will walk you through all the trail details, so let’s begin.
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Vietnam Memorial Trail Stats
- Hiking Distance | 1.3 miles RT
- Difficulty | Easy
- Elevation Gain | 287 feet
- Total Time | 1 hour
- Permits/Fees | None
- Trailhead | Vietnam Memorial Trailhead
- Road Conditions | Paved
- Dog Friendly | Yes
Below is a map of the Vietnam Memorial Trail.
While the trail is short in distance and doesn’t climb too much elevation there are a couple of steep sections that will most likely get your heart rate up. The trail is your typical desert trail full of dirt and many rocks. It is easy to follow but you’ll just want to be sure of your footing or bring hiking poles if you need help with balance.
If you’re wanting to visit only to read the signs and sit by the flag you’ll only need to hike in about 0.25 miles to do so.
Getting To Vietnam Memorial Trailhead
The Vietnam Memorial Trailhead is located on the northwest corner of W Jomax and N Dysart Road in Surprise. The area feels pretty remote now but many homes are being built in the area and surely enough it will be populated. Currently there is no parking lot for the trailhead, but the shoulder of Jomax is wide enough for you to pull off and park in the dirt.
When To Hike
Either sunrise or sunset would be the perfect time for hiking this trail. Once up top the buttes you’ll have unobstructed views to the east and west, so take your pick!
Since the trail is short it could be hiked during the summer. I’d just refrain from hiking during the hottest part of the day if I were you.
Since this hike is far out of the main city, and the area isn’t fully developed yet, this trail doesn’t get too populated. I had it all to myself when I hiked it!
The Hike: Vietnam Memorial Trail
Vietnam Memorial Trail begins directly from the side of the road and leads you up to the American Flag seen off in the distance. Along the way there are many plaques commemorating the Vietnam Veterans. Some pay tribute to fallen soldiers while others display quotes and historical facts.
The trail does begin with a little bit of an incline until you reach the American Flag, 0.25 miles in. Around the flag are benches so you can take a moment to rest, reflect, and even write in the trail book that is housed inside the metal box!
The trail continues past the flag and dips down, around, and back up the connecting buttes.
I was pleasantly surprised (this is Surprise after all) at the views from up top. You can see all the way out to West Gate Entertainment District in Glendale once the sun goes down since their signs are so big and bright.
You really get a feel for how big the west valley of Phoenix is from up here!
The trail ends at the tallest butte but to reach the top there is one last steep incline, possibly the steepest along the entire trail. It isn’t anything technical but for kids or those who don’t hike often you may need to stop for a little breather.
Once up top you can watch as the sun ducks behind the White Tank Mountains in the west. If it is a good sunset you’ll be able to see the sun rays Arizona is known for.
Before darkness sets in just retrace your steps back down to your car!
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One evening my husband and I decided to take Monty, our German Shepherd most of you are familiar with by now, and our Alaskan Malamute, Jax for a sunset hike. We chose Vietnam Memorial Trail because we hadn’t hiked it before but also because Jax is a bit out of shape!
Jax conquered the trail like a champ and loved every second of it. I was surprised at how beautiful the trail and surrounding area was. It actually was better than I expected for such a short trail that didn’t climb much elevation.
There are homes being built up into the area, which you’ll see as you get a good vantage point up top. It is sad they’re impeding so close to the buttes. But, hopefully it won’t completely ruin the experience and views here in the years to come.
Share in the comments if you’re adding this one to your bucket-list, or maybe you’ve hiked it before?!