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Best Hiking Trail Phoenix 2012 - National Trail, South Mountain

National Trail, South Mountain

National Trail, South Mountain

9904 S. 48th St.

Ahwatukee, AZ 85044

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Readers' Choice: Camelback Mountain

You'll get your bellyfull of dusty paths, rocks, and cactus on this 15-mile trail in prime Sonoran Desert real estate. Hiking all of National Trail — from one end of the 16,000-acre South Mountain Park to the other — is a Valley adventure not to be underestimated. Don't under-hydrate or hesitate to snack. And bring two cars unless you really want to walk 30 miles. Shuttle it between Pima Canyon on the east end and San Juan Road on the west (we recommend Pima because San Juan Road is sometimes open only for bicycles or pedestrians). Following the trail's a cinch, thanks to the frequent signs. You'll top out at Buena Vista Lookout, at about 2,700 feet, before dropping back down to the foothills. When you can't see the city below, you won't believe you're in one. You can take your mountain bike, but going on foot offers both a workout and a fuller sense of the desert's beauty. Sometimes, all you can hear is the muted crush of your own footsteps – and the yipping of a coyote over the next hill.

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