Phoenix Hiking Trails For The Novice Hiker

Dated: 02/08/2016

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Hikers in Papago Park

Phoenix Hiking Trails for the Novice Hiker

I was born and raised in Phoenix and have watched this city grow and change over the years, but one thing that never changes are convenient places to take a hike whenever the mood strikes me. I was born and raised here in Phoenix and I've been hiking since I was kid. I’ve always enjoyed a leisurely hike as opposed to challenging workout hike. Most of the time I just want to be in nature and enjoy the scenery and save the workout for the gym.

Here are a few of my favorite hikes that are convenient to get to and take your breathe away without taking the breath out of you.

View from South Mountain Park

South Mountain Park

Let the antennas be your guide.

Just south of downtown is a diverse terrain of hiking trails for the novice hiker called South Mountain.  Head south on Central Ave until you reach the park entrance. You can park right away or keep driving for a little windy adventure. Watch the valley below as the buildings get smaller and the valley looks grander. Pull over to the designated parking and look for trails marked green or white. Each path has a symbol with difficulty ratings. Check out a trail ahead of time here.

Treat yourself to driving to the highest point, Mount Suppoa, that hosts over 20 antennas. It feels like 'Happy Day’s Inspiration Point' when you go at night, it's very romantic.  I suggest putting on your favorite driving tunes for the drive back down.

Click here to see homes for sale near South Mountain Park.

Papago Park - Hole in the Rock

Papago Park

If you’ve ever flown into Phoenix Sky Harbor, Papago Park the red clay cluster of hills that look like swiss cheese. Conveniently located near the I-202 between McDowell and Van Buren, east of 52nd Street. In this park are also the Phoenix Zoo and Botanical Garden where you can stroll through as well for a fee, but you can stroll for free on the designated trails in the park.

All the trails are fairly easy and are all marked ‘Green’ in difficulty ratings. There are four trails ranging in terrain and length. Check them out here. You can easily drive to the lagoon where you can fish or drive to Hunt’s Tomb, where you have a 360 degree view of the valley. My favorite is the Hole in the Rock because it’s fun to perch on the ledge and take in the desert.

Click here to see homes for sale near Papago Park.

Phoenix Mountain Reserve

Phoenix Mountain Preserve - 40th Street Park

The Phoenix Metro Valley has many small neighborhood trails that are hidden gems. I now live in North Phoenix and stumbled on this back trail that splits into the some of the most easiest walks to challenging mountain climbing. Just head east on Shea from I-51 and south onto 40th Street. There is a large parking area at the end of this stretch that cuts through a beautiful neighborhood.

The main trail splits off to the fairly obvious challenging trails that take you up the mountains or keeps you on level ground. Each trail is labeled with difficulty ratings. The level trail takes you all the way to the Piestewa Peak/Dreamy Draw through a valley of beautiful cacti  and mountains. This is also a horse trail so watch your step.

This trail gets dark early because you are in a valley, so keep track of how long it’s taken you so you get caught in the dark as I have. Also watch your conversations because your voice travels in this valley, I’ve heard people a mile away!  

Click here to see homes for sale near the Phoenix Mountain Preserve.

Lookout Mountain

Lookout Mountain Park

This trail is can become challenging and not meant for a stroll, but great for a gradual beginner looking to up their game. Heading north from Cactus on Cave Creek Rd, nestled between quiet neighborhoods is Lookout Mountain Park. This park has a great children’s play area as well as tennis courts. I enjoy this trail in chilly weather because it is always in the sun.

The main trail that takes you up the mountain splits into two. My favorite is to the left because you see more of the city. As you weave on a gradual incline there are well worn rocks strategically placed for sure footing. On your way down you’ll find yourself skipping because they are spaced so well. If you make it up to the top you’ll be rewarded with a 360 degree panoramic view of the valley and view of the valley where I’ve heard packs of coyotes sing for their supper. Well worth the effort.

Click here to see homes near Lookout Mountain Park.


Although these hikes are fairly easy, it can still get hot or cold depending on the season so be sure to dress appropriately. Drink lots of fluid and watch your step for the uneven surfaces. Most of all enjoy the moment and the beautiful desert. 

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