Arizona is known as being one of the best hiking destinations in the country, with a variety of climates and terrains to explore. If you’re new to the area or just want to get out and see the landscape, here are some of our favorites that are close to Tempe.
South Pima Canyon Road
This is an easy hike that’s suitable for just about anyone. It’s just over two miles in length with a pretty even elevation. The trail’s basically a loop that takes you close to the entrance of South Mountain Park. If you’re visiting, this is a great trail for getting out and stretching your legs.
Papago Park Trail
This is another easy trail located in the area where Tempe, Phoenix and Scottsdale meet. Running just over two miles, this trail takes you through the uniquely beautiful Papago Park, which is home to red sandstone buttes, reflecting pools and the hole-in-the-rock. The area is also home to the LoPiano Bosque nature preserve and a Hohokham archaeological site that dates back to over 650 years.
For more of a challenge, take on one of the two trails to the summit of Camelback Mountain. Echo Canyon is the more popular route. It’s just over a mile long, but it ascends 1,400 feet in that mile. This one’s sure to get your legs burning.
The Cholla trail is the well-maintained trail on Camelback’s east flank, but gets more challenging and technical once you reach the ridgeline. At that point, the 1.3 mile trail gets increasingly rocky and precipitous. It’s probably best to leave the kids at home when you’re taking on this one.
Piestewa Peak (Squaw Peak)
The second highest point in the Phoenix Mountains next to Camelback is Piestewa Peak. The summit trail on this one gains 1,200 feet in 1.2 miles and is a very popular climb to get your heart pumping. The summit’s got some great views, but prepare for plenty of company.