Everything is better with a four-legged friend — especially hiking. As residents of metro Phoenix, we have no shortage of local mountain ranges and nature parks that welcome dogs (on leashes, of course). Here are a few of our favorites that feature easy-to-moderate climbs, gorgeous views, and plenty of fun stuff to sniff, chase, and splash in ... if you’re into that kind of thing.
McDowell Sonoran Conservancy: Lost Dog Wash
The name may make this sound like the worst place to bring your pooch, but don't let that scare you. Lost Dog Wash Trail is a scenic four-mile out-and-back with an easy 350-foot gain that's great for a hike with dogs or kids. The trail ends at the Taliesin Overlook, which looks down to Frank Lloyd Wright's winter home and school, Taliesin West. Dog parents will appreciate the vistas, while pups old and young will enjoy this lightly traveled, easy-to-follow trail.
Phoenix Mountain Preserve: Trail 100
If you’re looking to take a long walk with your favorite pooch, try Trail 100. The path, which winds through Phoenix Mountain Preserve, isn’t too steep or too craggy, which makes it perfect for exploring with a dog. The trail itself is about 10 miles long, with various alternative route options for a longer hike. We like this trail because it’s easy enough to accommodate older dogs, but still offers beautiful desert views for their owners.
Dreamy Draw Park: Nature Trail
Similar to Trail 100, Dreamy Draw Park’s Nature Trail is pretty easy. It’s also a fairly short loop — just a little over a mile long — so it’s a nice option for dog and people parents alike. No steep climbs here — just a pleasant, simple walk through the Dreamiest Draw we know.
Just about any trail at South Mountain
You really can’t go wrong hiking South Mountain with a dog. We particularly like the trails along the east side of the mountain. These routes are rarely crowded, and the trails are generally a bit wider, so dogs who prefer a little extra space can still enjoy the hike. We like the boulders and sandy soil of the Pima Canyon Wash Trail. For a slightly more challenging hike with Fido, try the Javelina Canyon trail.
White Tank Mountains: Waterfall Canyon Trail
If you’re looking to get out of a metro Phoenix hiking rut, consider taking a short trip to White Tank Mountain Regional Park. This particular park can be a bit more challenging than others on this list — so if you (or your pup) aren’t used to climbing, it might be best to consider another option. But if you’re feeling up for a little challenge, look no further than the Waterfall Canyon Trail. This beauty ends at a small waterfall and swimming hole, and offers cool views of petroglyphs.
Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area: Dragonfly Trail
Spur Cross will amaze you with its natural bounty: It's home to one of the last remaining year-round spring-fed streams in Cave Creek and one of the region's densest stands of saguaro cactus, according to the county. The Dragonfly Trail is a moderate 2.6 mile loop is accessible from the Spur Cross trail and takes you through lush scenery along with Cave Creek. Dogs and people alike will appreciate the shade of cottonwood and willow trees — not to mention the proximity to a stream for splashing in.
Estrella Mountain Regional Park: Coldwater Trail
Estrella Mountain Park is another great option for dogs and their companions. The Coldwater Trail is roughly three miles long, and features great desert views and a fairly gradual climb. Add the Butterfield loop for a more challenging 10-mile hike.
Saguaro Lake: Butcher Jones Trail
Cool down with your furry friend at Saguaro Lake. The Butcher Jones trail is a beautiful, not-too-strenuous path along the north side of the water. It offers beautiful views of desert flowers, and, of course, the Saguaro Lake oasis.
Cave Creek Regional Park: Go John Trail
Our dogs love the Go John trail for its ample wildlife (read as: lizards for chasing) and its gradual climbs. We love it because it offers beautiful views of Cave Creek Regional Park and metro Phoenix. Warning: We’ve also encountered a lot of horses on this path, which we think is neat, but if your dog is skittish, maybe try a different trail.
Phoenix Mountain Preserve: Lookout Mountain Summit Trail
Looking to burn off some of your pup's energy? This summit hike is the perfect answer and one of the more intense treks on this list. Accessible from the 16th Street Trailhead, the Lookout Mountain Summit Trail is less than a mile out and back but offers great views of the from the top. There will be loose gravel and rocks requiring some scrambling toward the summit, but for a quick sweat with your pooch it can't be beat.
Editor's note: This post has been updated from its original version, which first appeared in June 2015. Zaida Dedolph and Lauren Saria contributed to this article.