Best Central Phoenix Hike (2009)

Piestewa Peak Trail #304 (1.52-mile Nature Trail)

Don't just take our word for it — recent research suggests that spending time in nature will improve cognitive function. Scientists say the human brain has two types of attention: directed attention (which we use when we work, drive, Facebook) and involuntary attention (like that triggered by the call of a bird or the shape of rock formation). The problem is most of us are using our directed attentions past the point of fatigue. One way to restore the circuits is by taking a walk. That's why we're damn lucky to live in a city with thousands of acres of nature trails.

The best place to get away and give your brain a reboot is the 304 Loop Trail at Piestewa Peak. Just drive right on past those over-achievers at the summit trail and head all the way back to the final parking area. The walk is an easy-to-moderate loop, takes about 45 minutes, and is located right in the middle of the city. Go ahead and contemplate the cuddly appeal of Teddy Bear chollas, the migratory patterns of birds, and the new limbs growing on an octogenarian saguaro.


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