Getaway Compass

10 Best Hikes Near Phoenix, Arizona

Spur Cross Trail

Phoenix is in a valley surrounded by scenic mountains and lakes, offering unique hikes with great views. One of the highlights of hiking near Phoenix is seeing the Saguaro Cactus which grow to reach an average height of 40 ft. After hiking around the Phoenix for four years, I curated this list of the 10 best hikes near Phoenix.

Tips for Hiking Near Phoenix

  • Bring a comfortable hiking bag to carry your water, sunscreen, and snacks. One of my favorite hiking bags is this Gregory Daypack.
  • Make sure to wear hiking boots while hiking in Arizona as they offer traction and ankle support which is necessary for the rocky and sandy terrain.
  • Always bring a lot of water! This reusable water bottle is perfect to keep your water cold throughout the hike.
  • You will want sunglasses and a hat to hike near Phoenix since most trails don’t have any shade.
  • Avoid hiking between May and October as it can get dangerously hot. If you do decide to hike during the summer months, only hike very early in the morning and make sure to bring a never ending supply of water. You don’t want to be the person that has to be airlifted out by a helicopter.
  • Be careful of the cacti, especially the Cholla Cactus. If you touch it or brush against it the barbed spines can detach and stick to you, and they can be difficult to remove. It is recommended to remove them with a comb, although luckily I haven’t needed to try this.

1. Boulder Canyon Trail

Canyonlake 2
Canyon lake hike Weavers Needle Side

Boulder Canyon Trail is one of the best hikes near Phoenix. The trial starts from Canyon Lake and ascends for amazing views of the lake. It then continues down past the peak to clear views of Weavers Needle, a 1,000 ft high rock. From this point the hike descends down into a creek and it is a good spot to turn around.
Location: Canyon Lake, Tonto National Forest
Length: Hike as much as you want! The full trail is about 8.5 miles out and back but the best views are in the beginning of the hike.
Elevation: 1,800 ft
Difficulty: Moderate – you don’t have to do the whole hike! 
Parking and Trailhead: Park at Canyon Lake Marina and across the street from the parking lot you will see the trailhead. It is free to park at Canyon Lake Marina, and you do not need a Tonto Pass, however if you park elsewhere in Canyon Lake area you might need one.

2. Butcher Jones Trail

Butcher Jones Trail Near Phoenix
Saguaro Lake Hiking Trail

At Saguaro Lake you can find Butcher Jones Trail, a wonderful 5 mile out and back hike along the lake. The trail is moderate, with only slight elevation gain. At the end of the trail you have the option of continuing 1/4 of a mile to Burro Cove and 1/4 of a mile to a spot labeled as shore line access. Burro Cove offers beautiful views of the lake with Four Peaks Mountains in the background and is worth the extra distance. The shore line access brings you closer to the water but there isn’t any beach area and the views aren’t as good as at Burro Cove. Butcher Jones Trail is one of the top lake hikes near Phoenix if you are looking for a trail with Saguaros and lake views.
Location: Saguaro Lake, Tonto National Forest
Length: 5 miles out and back
Elevation: 540 ft elevation
Difficulty: Moderate
Parking and Trailhead: There is a parking lot at the Butcher Jones Recreation Site, and the trail starts right past the small beach. You can purchase a Tonto Daily Pass for $12 at a kiosk in the parking lot of the recreation area. Tonto Discovery Passes, annual passes to Tonto National Forest, are also accepted. America the Beautiful annual passes are only accepted at the picnic sites.

Spending more time in Arizona? Plan your trip using these articles.

3. Yavupai Point Trail

Lake Pleasant Arizona
Yavupai Point Trail View
Yavupai Point Trail

Yavupai Point Trail is a 3 mile out and back trail that offers incredible views of Lake Pleasant. In the spring you will also get to see a lot of beautiful wildflowers. The trail starts at the Cottonwood Day Use Area from the Pipeline Canyon Trailhead North. You will start hiking on the Pipeline Canyon Trailhead and then connect to the Yavupai Point Trail where you see signs directing you towards the left. The trail starts mainly flat and then has moderate elevation gain to reach the peak with breathtaking views of Lake Pleasant. The incline part of the trail is very narrow and is a bit steep, so I recommend wearing hiking boots.
Location: Lake Pleasant Regional Park
Length: 3 miles round trip
Elevation: 450 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Parking and Trailhead: The trail starts from Pipeline Canyon Trailhead North. There is a parking lot in the Cottonwood Day Use Area next to Pipeline Canyon Trailhead North. It costs $7 to enter Lake Pleasant Regional Park.

On the way up to your hike at Lake Pleasant, you could experience a Hot Air Balloon Ride over the Sonoran Desert. If you aren’t a morning person, you can opt for the Sunset Hot Air Balloon Ride on the way back from your hike.

4. Peralta Trail

Peralta Trail1
Peralta Trail3

Peralta Trail offers great views of Weavers Needle and the surrounding mountains. The beautiful desert views and the variety of plant life here makes this one of the best hikes near Phoenix.
Location: Superstition Mountains
Length: About 5 miles round trip
Elevation: 1,500 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Parking and Trailhead: Peralta Trail starts from Peralta Trailhead. To get here you will follow a dirt road for about 20 minutes. If you have high clearance and four wheel drive that is preferred but not required. You can still drive to the trailhead with low clearance and two wheel drive but it will just take you longer. You will find a designated parking lot next to the trailhead.

5. Bluff Springs Trail

Bluff Springs Trail Superstitions
Superstitions Hike Bluff Springs

Bluff Springs Trail is a trail in the Superstition Mountains that is often overlooked. The trail starts from Peralta Trailhead but instead of going to the left you will go towards the right and follow signs for Bluff Springs. The trail begins with a steep 800 ft climb with views of surrounding mountains. Then you go down into a wash which gets filled with water after it rains. You will then continue ascending again where you will be able to see views of Weavers Needle. At this point you can turn around, which will be about 2.5 miles one way, or you can continue on Bluff Springs Trail to Dutchman Trail and loop back. If you continue to Dutchman Trail the full loop will be 9.5 miles.
Location: Superstition Mountains
Length: About 5 miles out and back, or 9.5 mile loop
Elevation: 800 ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Parking and Trailhead: This trail starts from the same spot as Peralta Trail which has a designated parking lot. To get to Peralta Trailhead you will follow a dirt road for about 20 minutes. If you have high clearance and four wheel drive that is preferred but not required. You can get to the trailhead with a low clearance, two wheel drive vehicle but it may take you longer. There is a designated parking lot next to the trailhead.

6. Sunrise Trail to Sunrise Peak

Sunrise Trail3
Sunrise Trail 1

Sunrise Trail is one of my favorite trails near Phoenix since it offers amazing views and has huge cholla cacti and Saguaro cacti. This hike offers a great workout with over 1,000 ft of elevation gain to get up to the viewpoint.
Location: Near Fountain Hills
Length: About 3.7 miles out and back
Elevation: 1,100 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Parking and Trailhead: The trail starts from Sunrise Trailhead which has a designated parking lot. If the main parking lot is full, you can park about a 5 minute walk away in the overflow lot.

7. Spur Cross Trail

Spur Cross Trail
Saguaro at Spur Cross Trail

Spur Cross trail has some of the biggest Saguaros I have ever seen around Phoenix. During the rainy season (July-September) there is usually a river on this hike. This trail is one of the best hikes near Phoenix if you are looking for a hike with not much elevation gain that still offers great views.
Location: Near Cave Creek
Length: 5.4 mile loop
Elevation: 460 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Parking and Trailhead: There is a parking lot near the trailhead with a $3 fee to enter the trail. If you have trouble finding where the trail starts, you can ask the volunteers answering questions at the pay stations and providing maps.

8. Tom's Thumb

Toms Thumb2
Toms Thumb 1

Tom’s Thumb is one of the best hikes near Phoenix, offering incredible views of the desert and a rock formation at the end of the hike that is called “Tom’s Thumb.”
Location: McDowell Sonoran Preserve, northeast of Scottsdale
Length: About 4 miles out and back
Elevation: 1,200 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Parking and Trailhead: There are two large parking lots near Tom’s Thumb Trailhead.

9. Wave Cave Trail

Wave Cave Trail PHX
Wave Cave

Wave cave trail is a unique hike that leads to an interesting cave. The hike also offers great views of the Sonoran Desert on the way up to the cave.
Location: Superstition Mountains
Length: About 3 miles round trip
Elevation: 850 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Parking: There is a parking lot near the trailhead and overflow parking along the road.

10. Mormon Trail to Hidden Valley

Mormon Trail Best Hike Phoenix

This rocky, up-hill climb on South Mountain features great views of Phoenix. On this trail you will fin  a small loop through Hidden Valley that takes you to what is called “Fat Man’s Pass,” a narrow passage between two large boulders.
Location: South Mountain
Length: About 3.6 miles round trip
Elevation: 925 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Parking: There is a parking lot near the trailhead and overflow parking along the road.

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links for products and services I recommend. At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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