Perl Charles Hiking Trail – Phoenix Mountains
- Rating: Moderate
- Distance: 5 miles (roundtrip)
- Location: Dreamy Draw Recreation Area
The Perl Charles hiking trail is located at the Dreamy Draw Recreational Area in Phoenix, Arizona. It’s a busy place.
Get there too late on a weekend morning and you may find yourself in a line of cars waiting for a parking space. Frustrating, I know…but it’s worth the wait.
This area is tucked away just behind the 51 freeway and Northern Ave, North of the even more popular Piestewa Peak Trail.
One fun and quick hiking trail in this area is the Perl Charles Memorial Trail to the VOAZ trail summit. This hike should only take about 2 hours or so and has been a featured trail in the Phoenix Summit Challenge, a yearly hiking adventure that encourages residents to get out and explore hiking numerous summits all in one day.
This is a moderate hike which is a great challenge for beginner hikers or those who are new to the area.
Perl Charles Memorial Trail to VOAZ Trail
The trail isn’t marked that well….but not impossible to navigate. Once at the Dreamy Draw Recreational Area, follow the paved bike path towards the right. From this point you’ll begin to see a series of dirt trails leading towards the mountain.
Follow these trails along and you’ll eventually begin seeing signs directing you further to the right for the Perl Charles Memorial Trail. (This basically is just following next to the paved path.)
Once at the intersection a trail marker appears confirming that you are on the Perl Charles Memorial Trail. Begin to head East (left) onto the trail. (You’ll also see this trail marked as A1.)
As it begins, you’ll find yourself gradually inclining up towards the inner portions of the mountain. Long and wide switchbacks gently swirl alongside dark green palo verde and mesquite trees.
As you make your way the path curves up to the top of a peak revealing the wide panoramic view of the rolling mountain tops against the bright blue sky .
Following the trail down, you forget all about the city life and begin to explore what the real, untouched Phoenix landscape is.
Boulders in every shade of brown imaginable are scattered across between the pale green saguaros and the hay colored grass peaking up from the rocky landscape.
The trail now intersects and follows along the Charles M Christiansen Memorial Trail #100. It remains relatively flat for a few minutes as you are hiking along the desert ground.
This area is a poplar section as it follows along the washes and is a common hiking vein within the trail system for other hikers and mountain bikers to connect onto.
As you begin to near the VOAZ trail, the 100 trail once again begins to incline up and doesn’t let up until your at the summit.
While a moderate hike up, this section of the trail will not be long.
If winded, there is a bench along the path that looks out towards the sprawling wild desert landscape. The hues of blue and green pop out, that this is the hidden gem of Phoenix.
From this point, you will not have much longer until you hit the VOAZ trail, which will be on your right hand side.
This trail, seems like a side pocket, meaning if you aren’t paying attention you might miss it. Which, also means, not a lot of people think to visit it. So in short… just pay attention along your right side for the brown trail marker with VOAZ spray painted on it..
Now, this trail (VOAZ) is actually a half mile long….but we are going to be doing less than that. We are just taking it about .3 miles up to the summit. And then headingback down. But of course,if you want to keep taking it…please do so!
Hiking up to the summit, is short, sweet but will get you sweaty! It follows along a canyon wall and will be a moderate hike.
Once at the summit, there is a unique rock formation of tall borders, just before another rest area that has a bench for hikers to relax on.
Again, this is a phenomenal hike for anyone who is looking to get away…without actually having to go too far.
It reminds you that this city isn’t all full of concrete buildings and streets. The real land is still here underneath it all. And thankfully, the city has preserved this slice of wilderness for us to explore and get back to our roots.
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: 8mph E
UV index: 0