Scottsdale was recognized by National Geographic as one of the nation’s top hiking destinations. Of course this city is known for its luxurious spas and immaculate golf courses, but it is also surrounded by mountains with over 300 miles of hiking trails. If you need to get out of your home and enjoy our beautiful weather, here are a few options for avid hikers and nature lover’s alike, wanting to roam the beautiful cacti-filled landscape.
Lost Dog Trail, McDowell Sonoran Preserve (4.2 miles, Out & Back)
Located just outside of Scottsdale, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve is home to 225 miles of trails across its 30,580 acres of preserved lands. For the most scenic views in Scottsdale, look for the Lost Dog Wash. This trail is an old Jeep tour route that climbs into the mountains with panoramic views of the valley, Camelback Mountain, and Pinnacle Peak. The trail is about five miles long, round-trip, but because the trail remains relatively flat, it’s considered an easy-to-moderate hike.
Pinnacle Peak Summit Trail, Pinnacle Peak Park (3.5 miles, Round-Trip)
For a more challenging venture, head to Pinnacle Peak Park in northern Scottsdale. Known for its granite formations, rich wildlife, hiking trails, and rock climbing, Pinnacle Peak has it all. For first-timers, make your way up the Pinnacle Peak Summit Trail to the top of the mountain where you’ll be treated to stunning views of the valley at a 1,300 foot elevation. With a wide and smooth trail and a round-trip distance of 3.5 miles, the Summit Trail makes for a moderately-difficult hike.
Gateway Trail Loop, McDowell Sonoran Preserve (4.2 miles, Loop)
One of the most popular trails in Scottsdale, the Gateway Trail Loop is made for those looking for a tranquil walk through the desert. You will be able to peruse through the preserve along an easy 4.5-mile loop that brings you back to where you started, the perfect option for families. The Gateway Trail is also an access point to many other trails, for those extra adventurous folks who can set off into another region of the preserve.
Echo Canyon Summit Trail, Camelback Mountain (2.4 miles, Round-Trip)
Camelback Mountain houses two popular hiking trails: the Cholla Trail and the Echo Canyon Summit Trail. For picturesque city views, opt for the Echo Canyon Summit Trail, meant for the more experienced hiker. Starting at the ‘camel’s head,’ climb the mountain to its summit where you’ll be rewarded with stunning scenery of Scottsdale and the surrounding desert lands. Be prepared for a strenuous workout, as the trail ventures into some fairly intense climbing!
Tom’s Thumb Trail, McDowell Sonoran Preserve (4.0 miles, Round-Trip)
The Tom’s Thumb Trail is one of the region’s most challenging trails. Climbing 1,300 feet in just 2.5 miles, this one is perfect for the exercise seeker! This trail is marked by boulders and steep grades, so save this one for the well-versed hiker. If you are up to the challenge, head to the top where you’ll see a lovely view of Tom’s Thumb, a 150-foot-tall famed granite rock formation, along with beautiful views of the preserve below. Plus, if you’re a rock climber, this is the trail for you with many formations to climb along the way. For an easier hike, look for the Quartz Trail, perfect for nature-watching and wildflower views, and a leisurely 2 mile trip.
Sunrise Peak, McDowell Sonoran Preserve (3.6 miles, Out & Back)
Another strenuous hike, the Sunrise Trail East takes you up 1,112 feet in elevation in just two miles. Many sections are very steep, so it’s not meant for the beginning hiker. Yet, it does take you to Sunrise Peak, one of the few peaks in the preserve with a trail that goes directly to the top. Here, take in the panoramic views of the McDowell Mountains, surrounding rock formations, and blooming wildflowers in the spring.
If you have conquered these amazing trails and want to adventure more of Arizona’s trails, please visit https://www.alltrails.com/us/arizona/scottsdale. Always remember to bring adequate amount of water and protect yourself from the sun. Happy hiking!