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By Carrie Willink

Hikes near Phoenix are some of the most unique kind of trails. The tall saguaro cactus, the smells of the creosote after rainfall, the occasional rattlesnake, lizard, jackrabbit, bobcat or javelina siting. Even lakes and waterfalls can be found on these Sonoran desert hikes — contrary to what you may think of with a desert hike. It is what makes the valley hikes so unique, interesting and inviting. Having lived and explored Phoenix and the surrounding areas for several years, we have grown quite a love for the valley of the sun. And with the Phoenix Escape Campervans depot, your opportunities to explore the area are endless!

Most valley hikes near Phoenix are best to explore from September – May due to the extreme heat. There are still many ways to enjoy Phoenix in the summertime and even hikes that would be okay with the correct knowledge, including a large amount of water and shade!

So grab some sunscreen and lets hike Phoenix!

Camelback Mountain Trails

Unique due to the nature of this being a mountain you can hike, found right in the middle of the city (technically Scottsdale). Moderate to difficult hike. Depending on which trail you take, you are hiking 2 or 2 1/2 miles one way. Restroom at one of the trailheads. This hike is very accessible, but a lot of foot traffic.  We would suggest not doing this hike in the summer months- very hot! Because of the popularity of the trail, many people underestimate the difficulty of it. It is actually quite challenging in spots. 

Cactus at Butcher Jones Trail Arizona

Peralta Trail ( to Freemont Saddle)

Trailhead is about an hour from Phoenix. Moderate to difficult. This is a six-mile hike out and back (you can keep on to Weaver’s Needle which is 13 miles.) Restrooms and free parking are right by the trailhead. Child & dog-friendly. We opted for the pack for this one with our 2-year-old because it is a lot for her, but older children would probably enjoy the challenge!

This trail is one of my absolute favorites we’ve done as a family (check out the drone footage)! As you begin the trail it tends to feel like other Arizona hikes. Lots of cactus, dusty, dry. As you start up the trail you will see so many unique views and textures. There are mini waterfalls (if you go during the right season) large boulders & extremely cool rock formations. This hike is pretty much straight up the whole time, so if you can’t do the whole hike I would suggest still trying the hike as many of the viewpoints are just as breathtaking! Again, be careful in the summer months as this is a difficult hike and that Arizona sun is hot!

Butcher Jones Trail Lake View Arizona

Butcher Jones Trail

About 45 min Northeast of Phoenix. Easy to moderate hike. 4 miles in and out.

Important Parking Info: You have to get your Tonto parking permit BEFORE you go. They are not available on site. You can purchase these online, or you can stop at the gas station off of Highway 87 in Fort McDowell on your way out and get a pass. 10180 N Fort McDowell Rd, Fort McDowell, AZ 85264. They were last $6.00 and very picky if you don’t have one in your car!

This is its own little hidden gem. There is a small beach where the trail begins. You’ll head out thinking… “oh pretty water” You’ll end by saying “Forget therapy just take a hike here every day.” This hike has another beautiful desert landscape with the lake at your feet and open sky above you! This is perfect for kids and perfect for many picture spots.

Yavapai Point Trail (at Lake Pleasant)

This is 49 minutes north of PHX. This is easy to moderate trail at 3.1 miles in and out with bathrooms and $6.00 parking. Child and dog-friendly.

Oh, Lake Pleasant you have our heart! This trail was built just recently (2014) and is one of the most gorgeous hikes around Phoenix in our opinion, with its bright green landscapes and crystal blue waters! There are a couple trails around Lake Pleasant, but we always seem to pick the one with a summit! ?

At the top, there is a very cool bench (think of the peeps that carried that up there, impressive!) where you could bring a lunch and take a moment to soak in the beauty that surrounds you. Highly suggest making it to the top but be careful with the loose rock and the desert shrubbery that is sometimes closely intruding the trail. (FYI, as a rule of thumb, all desert shrubbery is pokey and wants to cause you pain, not just the saguaro cactus).

McDowell Mountains Regional Park Arizona

McDowell Mountains Regional Park

Mother Daughter Hiking at Lost Dutchman Arizona

Lost Dutchman State Park Trails

Lost Dutchman Hike Lookout Arizona

Easy to Moderate:

Treasure Loop Trail: Length 2.4 miles round trip.  Get ready for dusty feet and a smile on your face. If you go in early Spring, you may see all of the wildflowers that pop up and only stick around for a couple weeks but are just stunning. About halfway in, you reach a beautiful lookout. This is a perfect place for a rest and some pictures with a new perspective of a very photographed mountain.

Hard:

Siphon Draw Trail: 5.8 miles round trip, a very scenic hike, this trail winds up into a canyon known as Siphon Draw. It is possible to hike up the Flatiron, although it is not a designated, maintained trail all the way. It’s advised that only experienced hikers in good shape attempt to hike to the top, as the climb is steep and difficult to follow. Allow at least five hours to the Flatiron and back.

Canyon Lake Arizona

Canyon Lake

About 50 min from Phoenix area. Public bathrooms by the boat docks. You take the old apache trail to drive out from Apache Junction to Canyon Lake. The road is windy and not for the faint of heart, but the viewpoints are incredible. There are a lot of picnic areas and boat docks. Once you arrive at the Canyon Lake area, there is a large marina where you can purchase tickets for a day-cruise, or rent small boats or kayaks. So fun!

Lost Dutchman Ghost Town Arizona

Lost Dutchman Ghost Town

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