Covering more than 23,000 acres Phoenix Mountains Preserve offers close to 80 different trails, from easier ones to incredibly challenging ones with insane levels of incline.
Camelback Mountain and Piestewa Peak, are the Preserve’s leading peaks, both offering unobstructed panoramic views. Camelback Mountain, the highest of the two, gets its name from two rock formations that resemble the humps of a camel. To reach the summit visitors can follow the Echo Canyon Trail and Cholla Trail, both are strenuous and involve some level of climbing over large stones.
Similarly, the Summit trail leads to Piestewa Peak, the 3.5km in and out trail covers 1200 feet of steady incline and requires a good aptitude for hiking. Summit trail attracts a lot of traffic and with good reason, as apart from the unparalleled views, the trail is rich in flora and wildflowers. In 2008, this summit was given its current name to remember Lori Ann Piestewa, the first Native American woman to die while serving the U.S military in Iraq. This trail can also be looped with the Freedom trail or Piestewa Peak Circumference trail a 5.8km trail, which goes around the summit’s base. Other challenging hikes are ones leading to North Mountain and Shaw Butte, which are both over 2,100 feet high.
Quartz Ridge Trail offers less of an incline with 415 feet of elevation, it moves along the Sonoran Desert passing by large granite and quartz stones surrounded by mountain views. Similarly, the Dreamy Trail Draw trail is an easier 6km trail with less than 200km of elevation. While most Gated Trail-heads and parking lots are open daily 5 am to 7 pm, trails are open till 11 pm. Most parking lots tend to fill up early due to highly trafficked trails. Visitors may also choose to relax at one of the recreational areas around the park. A word of caution though, temperatures can escalate, especially later in the day.
Phoenix Mountains Preserve doesn’t fall short of being remarkable. Visitors get to appreciate the flora and wildlife of the Sonoran Desert, spectacular mountain and panoramic city views from above. It comes as no surprise that so many hikers, joggers, nature watchers, and cyclists flock to this location.