Top 5 Ultimate Phoenix Hiking Trails

Whether you’re in Phoenix for a short while or a long time native you are never far away from Phoenix hiking trails. Wherever you may be…guarantee that there’s a hiking trail within a half hour drive near you. However, some Phoenix hiking trails are a bit more epic than others.

For this reason, we have listed our Top 5 Ultimate Phoenix Hiking Trail list below.

hiking path leading out into desert with rock wall on right and mountain range in background. Tom’s Thumb hiking trail, on McDowell Mountain in Scottsdale, Arizona

Tom’s Thumb


Peralta Trail

Piestewa Peak

Hidden Valley

view of yellow and orange sunrise in hazy sky, hikers on top of mountain

Phoenix Hiking Trail Safety

Before we get to the top 5 Phoenix hiking trails, let’s ensure we are hiking safely out there. These listed trails below get a lot of hikers, which also means a lot of accidents and even deaths have happened in these areas.

Therefore, it’s important to be aware and prepared before heading onto the trail.

  • Bring Water
  • Wear appropriate hiking shoes
  • Don’t hike when it’s hot out
  • Turn back around, if you don’t feel well or have half your water left
  • On longer hikes, brings some salty snacks to replace lost electrolytes.
dirt hiking trail leading towards a tall cactus and shrubs with mountain silhouette in background

Tom’s Thumb

Tom’s Thumb is a must hike when in Phoenix. While technically this trail is located in the McDowell Mountains in Scottsdale; it’s a hiking staple. Leading up to a popular rock climbing formation, that sticks out of the mountain, like, well…a sore thumb. Tom’s Thumb…to be exact.

It’s a beautiful trail that offers amazing views and an epic ending destination. This trail was named after Tom Kreuser, who was a local rock climber from the 60s. If your lucky, you may see rock climbers near the area trying to reach the top of the thumb.

Although, this hike is rated as hard, as the beginning portion is steep it’s definitely worth the try.

tall gray boulder on top of mountain, looks like a thumb's up with blue sky behind. Tom’s Thumb hiking trail, on McDowell Mountain in Scottsdale, Arizona


Camelback Mountain is the highest point in Phoenix. The hiking trails are rated hard on Camelback. Camelback has a lot of injuries and deaths that occur on it.

entire view of mountain range that resembles shape of camel laying down. Echo Canyon hiking trail on Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale, Arizona

It is literally smack dab in the center of the city and the mountain most visitor’s see from the air port. Also, did I mention it looks like a camel laying down?! Due to all these reason, Camelback Mountain is one of the most popular hikes in Phoenix. (Okay, technically it’s in Scottsdale but still.)

Two trails lead the way to the top of Camelback

two hikers on top Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona

Cholla Trail

Cholla Trail is the “easier” side to get up to the top of Camelback. However, that doesn’t mean it is “easy” by any means. This trail is steep and requires being able to take big steps over uneven terrain.

hiker on mountain top looking at city below. Cholla hiking trail on Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale, Arizona

Echo Trail

Echo Trail requires scrambling. This means being a pretty skilled hiker and knowing how to hike when there may be no clear signage for where the trail is. You will need to hike over rocks and there are sections that require poles to hold onto. If you’ve never hiked before…you may want to skip over Echo. However, this is a great trail to work up as it’s a lot of fun.

hiking trail with lots of boulders and rocks along path with green shrubs along side. Echo Canyon hiking trail on Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale, Arizona

Peralta Trail

Peralta Trail leads out to one of the most popular landmarks in the Superstition Mountains, known as Weaver’s Needle.

This is a great hike as it takes you into the beautiful landscape of unique rock formations, that the Superstition Mountains are famous for.

rock formation that slopes upward into a needle shape. Weaver's Needle Superstition Mountain in Arizona, Peralta hiking trail near Phoenix.

Piestewa Peak

Piestewa Peak is the 2nd highest summit in Phoenix. (Camelback is the tallest.) Piestewa is rated as a hard Phoenix hiking trail due to it’s steepness. It’s nature’s ultimate stair climber. It is a lot of fun but also a lot of hard work. Once up at the top…it’s not hard to understand why this is an ultimate Phoenix hiking trail.

man in black shirt sitting on top of mountain in Phoenix, Arizona looking out at mountain view. Piestewa Peak hiking trail on Phoenix Mountains in Phoenix , Arizona

Hidden Valley

  • Difficulty Level: Moderate
  • Length: 3.5 Miles (roundtrip).
  • Location: Mormon Trailhead (24th St. & Baseline)
    • (From Baseline turn onto 24th St. towards the mountain and you’ll run into the parking lot)

Talk about a fun and unique trail, Hidden Valley is the spot! Found on Phoenix’s South Mountain, this Phoenix hiking trail has popular landmarks known as Fat Man’s Pass and the Natural Tunnel.

To get to this hiking trail, you must first go onto Mormon Trail which ends at National. Follow National down for a few minutes and you’ll see the trail signs for Hidden Valley. This is a great hike for the entire family to do.

two big brown boulders close together forming a small gap, known as Fat Man's Pass on South Mountain , Phoenix Arizona
Fat Man’s Pass – Hidden Valley, South Mountain, Phoenix – Arizona
brown jagged boulders close together forming a pathway of sand with a boulder on top, making this a natural tunnel. Found on Hidden Valley Hiking Trail on South Mountain, Phoenix, Arizona
Natural Tunnel along Hidden Valley hiking trail on South Mountain – Phoenix, Arizona

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