Are you suffering the Pandemic Blues? Months into COVID-19 and with no end in sight, it’s safe to say that many of us are feeling more than a little over it. But if you’re feeling cooped up and antsy, we’d like to gently remind you that the Great Outdoors is still open and waiting for you.
Today, we’d like to introduce you to a few of our favorite Phoenix hiking experiences. Hitting the trail can be anything you want it to be, from a light and refreshing loop to a more strenuous (but rewarding) trek. But whatever level of difficulty you choose, you’ll be doing your legs, your lungs and your heart good. So browse our list of the top Phoenix hiking trails and get ready to hit the ground running!
The Best Phoenix Hiking Trails: Easy
Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area
2439 S Central Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85004
Sprawling over the native wetlands and wildlife habitats of the Salt River—which once flowed year-round through Phoenix—this centrally located and easy-to-reach complex of trails is a great choice for those wishing to get in a couple miles of easy hiking without a great expenditure of time or effort. None of the area’s four trails will present a challenge to the average walker. In return, you’ll be rewarded by lovely riparian vistas and views of downtown Phoenix, as well as ample opportunities to observe wildlife and give yourself a quiet natural recharge.
Hole in the Rock
625 N Galvin Pkwy
Phoenix, AZ 85008
Accessible from the nearby Papago Park Visitor Center—itself a beloved Phoenix hiking opportunity—Hole in the Rock is a short but dramatic hike to a natural wind-eroded hole offering a vista of the Phoenix metropolitan area. It offers a lot of bang for the buck, but don’t stop there: The nearby Crosscut Canal path and Nature Trail offer beginner hikers the chance to stretch out and take in the stunning natural beauty of the park, all from the comfort of well-maintained paths (and access to restrooms!).
The Best Phoenix Hiking Trails: Difficult
Echo Canyon Recreation Area
4925 E McDonald Dr
Phoenix, AZ 85018
A world-famous destination for the hiking and outdoors set, Echo Canyon encompasses Camelback Mountain, one of the most striking and recognizable features of the region. That said, hiking Camelback isn’t for the faint of heart: Those wishing to ascend the half-mile high peak will contend with steep elevation gains and uneven terrain, all with little protection from the elements. That said, the gain is definitely worth the pain: The view from Camelback offers a stunning panorama of the surrounding Valley.
Note: While the two principal trails here are marked “Extremely Difficult” for good reason, there’s an option for less experienced hikers. The roughly quarter-mile “Bobby’s Rock Trail” is an easy trek around a large sandstone cube. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot dramatic cacti, wild desert mammals, and even the occasional rattlesnake.
South Mountain Park and Preserve
10919 S Central Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85042
Sprawling over some 16,000 acres and encompassing not one but three mountain ranges, the preserve is one of the largest and most impressive municipal parks in the nation. With some 50 miles of trails available for hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking, there’s seemingly no end of opportunities for enthralling views, wildlife spotting or the simple pleasures of walking alone (or with a friend) in a natural space. Though we’re filing this one under “difficult” for the many challenging trails enfolded in the preserve, there’s no shortage of shorter and less strenuous hiking opportunities in this mammoth park.