With the ultra popular Echo Canyon shut down for the majority of the year, hikers have flooded to the gates of the Piestewa Peak summit trail. Though there is a debate over the comparable difficulty of the two trails, avid Echoers run up and down Piestewa alongside the tourists and families there for the view. If this sounds overwhelming, and it certainly can be at points in the trail, we have news for you: This particular park offers almost 45 miles of trails with varying difficulty and foot traffic.
More than just Piestewa Peak? Yes, much more.
Huge (though not the largest) and surrounded completely by our bustling city, Phoenix Mountain Preserve is a unique piece of desert with 19 different trails meandering through its mountainous terrain. Trails to other peaks around the preserve, like Lookout Mountain, are easy to moderate with just a half-mile climb, and the park also offers the Charles M. Christiansen Memorial trail at 10 miles in length. Almost all the trails are multipurpose, giving options for mountain bikes and horse riding, and you can even take your pooch along some of these paths.
So if these days of summer heat are keeping you away from the daunting and challenging summit trail, maybe consider something longer yet less intense, like the Freedom Trail #302 that follows the circumference of Piestewa. If you decide along the way that another trail interests you, you can take a turn off for the Pearl Charles Memorial Trail or the Nature Trail lined with placards describing the desert life surrounding you. There are plenty of options (we aren't going to tally up all the possible trail combinations you could take), various points of entry around town, and much to explore, all within the confines of our Phoenix Metro. Nobody says you have to follow a certain trail to its completion, instead wander and figure out a direction that suits you. For a detailed map, check here.
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This special park is a place to take advantage of the quiet valleys and peaks around the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, often much less populated than the summit trail or the busy streets of Phoenix just behind the hills. So next time you fill up your water bottle and wake up early to do some hiking nearby, consider the paths less traveled, and explore the park that has so much more to offer than a busy peak.
For more information, visit Phoenix Mountain Preserve's website.