7 Easy Nature Hikes in Metro Phoenix
The view at McDowell Mountain Park is just as beautiful at night. We recommend participating in one of their guided Moonlight Hikes or rides.
We live in a beautiful city in the middle of a beautiful desert. Enjoying all the gorgeous scenery that the Sonoran desert has to offer doesn’t have to come to an abrupt stop when the mercury rises — or falls. Instead, we can enjoy all that beauty in short bursts, and with lots of water, and at one of these seven (easy!) nature trails.
McDowell Mountain: Full Moon Hike
One way to escape the oppressive sun is to hike by the light of the moon. Several of our favorite local mountain preserves offer Night Hikes, like McDowell Mountain’s upcoming Full Moon Hike. The guided event on July 30th begins at 7 pm and covers a 3-mile loop, so plan to be out on the trail until about 9 pm.
Reaching the summit is undeniably rewarding. Lookout Mountain in North Phoenix is a great place to get that view from the top without overexerting yourself. The trail is fairly easy, and at just under one mile in length it can be completed in an hour or less. There are a few tricky areas near the peak, but even children and less experienced hikers are able to enjoy the fun trek and pretty outlook from the top of Lookout Mountain.
White Tank Mountain Regional Park: Waterfall Trail
It might be a dry heat, but Arizona is not completely devoid of water. We like reminding ourselves of this at White Tank Mountain Regional Park. This easy, barrier-free trail is just under a mile long, and ends — you guessed it — at a beautiful natural waterfall and small pool. But be sure to go after a good rain - otherwise, you might have to go chasing this waterfall on a different day.
Papago Park: Hole In The Rock
This one barely counts as a hike, just as “Hole In The Rock” barely counts as a name. Nonetheless, this tiny little micro-hike offers one of our favorite views (and photo opportunities) in Phoenix. The oft-Instagrammed red rock structure is easy enough for the whole family to climb together, and the view of Papago Park at sunset is nothing short of breathtaking. Even on the hottest day, you’re sure to enjoy The Hole.
Superstition Mountains: Hieroglyphic Trail
This trail, clocked by the United States Forest Service at just over a mile, is a great option for a family nature walk. Located in the heart of the Superstition Mountains, the trail is a haven for lovers of nature and history alike. As the name might suggest, the trail leads to a set of super duper old American Indian petroglyphs. How awesome is that?
Rio Salado Audubon Restoration Area
A walk through the Rio Salado Audubon Restoration Area is a great way to enjoy our local flora while supporting a great cause. The Restoration Area opened in 2009 on a five-mile stretch along the Salt River that was previously used as a dump site. The Audubon society cleaned up the area, which now houses hundreds of species of birds and loads of native fauna. That’s pretty cool, but we think it’s equally great that the Restoration site is accessible to individuals who use wheelchairs or who have other mobility constraints.
Just a few of the very old Petroglyphs that can be seen in the Superstition Mountains.
Estrella Mountains: Gila Trail
The Gila Trail is a short half-mile romp through the scenic Estrella Mountains. While the Gila trail might not be thRio Salado Audobon Restoration Area e most exciting trail in the area, it’s a nice short walk that even the smallest members of your family will be able to enjoy. This area also features ample opportunities for bird watching, and the trail is neatly paved for an easy trek.
Get the Arts & Culture Newsletter
Find out about upcoming performances, exhibitions, openings and special events happening in the Phoenix art and theater scene.