Marco de Niza Hiking Trail – South Mountain
- Difficulty Level: Moderate
- Length: 2.0 Miles (roundtrip).
- Location: Pima Canyon Trailhead
The Marco de Niza hiking trail is a great little route to hike on those days where you need a quick escape from the city grind or you’re looking for a quick workout. This moderate two mile hiking trail is great for beginners, children and pets.
The most intense portion of this trail occurs right in the beginning. The trail inclines gradually with short curvy switchbacks. Once at the top, the trail follows along a portion of the hilly ridgetop of South Mountain.
Marco de Niza Historical Rock Carving
It’s here along this area where you can find the signature of Marco de Niza. As you approach, it looks a little strange like a jail cell protruding out of the mountain side.
As you get closer you can bend down and look between the metal rods to take a peek. In English the etching reads; “Friar Marcos de Niza crowned all of New Mexico at his expense in the year 1539.”
Marco de Niza Trail Summary
From here, the trail takes on a more direct and straight path up to the ridgeline of South Mountain.
Again, this is nothing too steep but it will get your heart pumping.
Once on the top, the trail mellows out and travels along the eastern ridgeline of the mountain, taking you up and down the peaks.
As you continue, along your left side you’ll have a bird’s eye view of the surrounding neighborhoods while on the right will be the inner rolling mountain tops of South Mountain. You feel directly in between the two different worlds each side has to offer.
All Paths Lead to the Same Place
Along the ridgeline, this trail branches off in separate ways. It may seem confusing at first, but don’t worry, all paths lead to the same place.
The path to the right, is a steeper area with loose gravel to be mindful of.
Or if you choose the path on the left, there will be a portion that will require some slight scrambling, depending on your height.
End of Trail
At the end this trail intersects with the Beverly Canyon trail. From here you can turn back the way you came, or turn onto Beverly Canyon and make this a longer hike.
Overall, this is a great trail to get a quick escape from the city, a little slice of history and also a great workout.
Phoenix Hiking Trail Essentials:
Over 200 hikers a year have accidents along the Phoenix hiking trails. The desert is a beautiful wide open space but with that also comes a bit of danger that all hikers need to be aware of and be prepared for.
To give you the best hiking experience be sure to bring these following essentials with you on your Phoenix hike
- Sunscreen/Sun Protected Clothing
- Salty Snacks (electrolytes)
- Durable shoes
Wind: 7mph E
UV index: 0
Who Was Marco de Niza?
Marco de Niza, for whom this hiking trail is named was an explorer that made his way through Arizona into what today is known as New Mexico. Rumor has it that he traveled through South Mountain, while onto his way to discover this land.
To validate this rumor there is an etching of his name marked into a portion of the mountain that can be found along this trail.
In order to protect this historical marking, a barred cage surrounds it.
Hoax of the Marco de Niza Hiking Trail
But…the joke is on us.
Marco de Niza would have created this around the 16th century. The scientists have determined that this was written sometime in the 20th century.
Yep, we got pranked! The park has left the metal bars around this area and hikers can still enjoy the novelty of it along the trail.