One of my favorite things about living in Phoenix is the mountains that are literally in the city. For me it means I can get off work at 5:30 and still make it to a trailhead to watch sunset which is perfect! In addition to hikes in the city, there are also a ton of hikes just outside of the city (and even some in the city) that offer a quick and easy escape into the wilderness. I wanted to stray away from the more publicized places, like Camelback, South Mountain, or Papago Park, and give you all some insight to places that are just a little further away, but overall a lot more remote and peaceful.
The Wave Cave is located in the Superstition Mountains off of Peralta Road, near Gold Canyon. The Wave Cave is a heavily populated hike that draws in hikers of all ages and skill levels. For most of the hike you will be venturing through the Saguaro forest on a slightly hill-y path. Then in the final stretch after getting your first peak at the cave, you start the ascent upward. This is the only part of the trail I would consider “strenuous” but don’t let that discourage you! I’ve seen 70-year-olds climb it, and I’ve seen 6-year-olds climb it, so you can definitely do it too.
- 3 miles round-trip
- Dogs allowed
- Elevation gain: 846ft
“Wilderness holds the answer to questions man has not yet learned to ask” – Nancy Newhall
Peralta Trail to Fremont Saddle
The Peralta Trail to Fremont Saddle is an amazing trail that leads you to a breathtaking view of the famous rock formation, Weaver’s Needle (pictured above.) This trail is absolutely gorgeous, and is located on the same road as the Wave Cave, Peralta Road, but just slightly further down! This trail gains elevation from the beginning as you weave through different small streams. fallen rocks, and shady haven’s for the summer months. There’s also a small cave when you get closer to the top, but it’s not very deep. This hike IS family-friendly however do not do this trail if you don’t have a super active family as there is quite an elevation gain and the trail is around 5.8 miles round-trip.
- 5.8 miles round-trip
- 1568 ft of elevation gain
- Dogs allowed
- Somewhat family-friendly
The Hieroglyphics Trail is the perfect trail for families with small children, or for people who don’t typically hike. Although rocky, the pathway is relatively flat. This hike in the right settings can sometimes have a small waterfall or pools of water, but the real feature is the ancient hieroglyphs that you can find along the rock at the end of the trail. The trailhead is located about 30 minutes outside of Tempe, and has a parking lot that includes a bathroom. Starting out you will be walking through a sea of Saguaros, and if you’re lucky there’s also an abundance of wildflowers. After about 1.4 miles of hiking, you’ll come to an area that will more than likely be filled with people examining the hieroglyphs. This trail is very popular, so if you are looking for something more quiet I would suggest taking another trail or making sure to get there early in the morning.
- 2.8 miles round-trip
- Family-friendly, heavily trafficked
- 567ft of elevation gain
- Dogs allowed
“Walking is man’s best medicine” – Hippocrates
Treasure Loop trail is located in one of my favorite parks in Arizona- Lost Dutchman State Park. This state park is the home to one of Arizona’s most renowned hikes, Flatiron. Fortunately if you aren’t up for that task, there’s plenty of hikes at this park for you to choose from. One of my favorite hikes in this area is the Treasure Loop trail. This is another trail that is great for families as it’s a fairly short hike that offers a lot of great views in a short amount of time. I love this trail because of the picturesque view of the Superstition Mountains you get along the hike. This park is located about 35 minutes outside of Tempe!
- Park fee: $7
- 2.3 miles round-trip
- Dogs allowed on leash
What to Bring
- 1/2 liter of water or more for every hour you’ll be hiking (if in the summer months bring more than you think you’ll use)
- sunscreen (make sure to use a non-toxic brand)
- hiking boots/tennis shoes
- energy-lifting snacks like protein bars, nuts, or trail -mix
- bandages (some of the trails can be rocky so slipping is common if you’re with little ones)
Always remember to follow Leave No Trace ethics! Pack out what you bring in, follow listed rules, and be sure to stay on the trail!
Usery Mountain Park
This park has a little bit of something for everyone. It’s located in Mesa, and it’s the perfect location for a family friendly hike, bike ride, and there’s even some longer hikes for the more experienced. I love this park because it truly embodies the desert and everything that it is. You’ll see all sorts of wildlife, desert plants and wildflowers, as well as gorgeous mountain backdrops. As far as specific trails I really like Wind Cave and Pass Mountain, but my favorite thing to do is just wonder around and take it all in.
- free entry
- open sunrise to sunset
- biking, hiking, bird watching, etc.
- lots of trails
Lookout mountain is an awesome trail if you’re looking for something that’s close, quick, and great for all skill-levels. I can do this hike in about 30 minutes. It’s .9 miles and it’s almost entirely uphill so I definitely wouldn’t be doing it mid-summer in Phoenix, however it makes a great sunrise spot.
- .9 miles out & back
- great views
- parking is free
Thanks for reading along!!! Comment your favorite hikes below