Ranger Trail on South Mountain

Location: South Mountain Park & Preserve, Main Entrance (park at Five Tables Trailhead)
Distance: 3.4 miles, roundtrip
Rating: Moderate

Ranger trail on South Mountain is a great hiking route for getting a good workout in or spending some quiet time in nature. As with most trails on South Mountain, this offers gorgeous views of the city. However, this trail is somewhat off the beaten path providing peaceful solitude surrounded by the desert wilderness.

This trail starts off in a flat area near the Five Tables trailhead.

As you begin you will be walking towards the base of the mountain. Throughout the entire hike there will be moments of deception because you will not be able to see the slithering trail laid out before you and you will not realize you are at the end until you are nearing it.

The pathway along Ranger Trail is very well marked and is a well-designed path. While you may be gaining elevation the path pretty much stays as a dirt flat path leading the way.

Along the expanding incline towards the mountain you’ll start to realize the trail is picking up some speed and moving nicely along towards the mountain.

At just shy of a mile, you will come to a section where a few switchbacks appear leading you up to the paved Summit Road. Directly across this road you will see a trail marker indicating where Ranger Trail continues.

Once across the road, it will really pick up with more switchbacks and inclines and becomes more exciting than it was in the beginning.

From this point on, the views are really spectacular as you gain more elevation, giving you a broader view of the surrounding area. The path becomes a series of switchbacks and increasingly gets steeper.

If you’re looking for a workout, look no further! This section is great for those who love to jog along the hiking trails.

s you continue following Ranger Trail all of the sudden it will come to an abrupt end. It meets with National Trail while along this incline route up. It feels like an awkward position on the mountain, in that it isn’t upon the top of the mountain ridge. But no worries…if you need to make it to the top of something to feel complete, it’s only a few steps away!

he lookout view is beautiful as you gaze out towards the rest of the park and if you want a longer hike you can head onto National Trail and explore more of South Mountain.


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