Hiking trails in Phoenix/Scottsdale?
February 13, 2008 4:14 PM   Subscribe

My wife will be in Phoenix/Scottsdale for a few days for work. She'd like to do some hiking. Are there any hiking trails (easy to moderate, 1-3 miles) that are picturesque, peaceful and safe for a woman hiking alone?
posted by greenchile to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There are some great hiking options around that area. Depending on how much time she has, she can go on some fantastic hikes.

The best hiking spot near there is Sedona. It's breath-takingly beautiful, and there's a great variety of trails. The popular trails there have enough people that I would feel perfectly comfortable hiking alone. However, it's about two hours away from Phoenix. Unless she'll have almost a whole day to spend, that's not that great an option.

If she doesn't have that much time, she could go to South Mountain Park. It's roughly 40 minutes from Scottsdale, I'd guess? The scenery isn't that beautiful, but there are some nice trails. At certain spots, there are some nice views of the metropolitan Phoenix area from afar. I would feel pretty safe there, as well.

Those are the only places I know of, personally. Beyond those, I know that there are a lot of other really nice hiking spots.. I just don't know where they are. At the very least, if no one else can pipe in some closer/better options, I'd say these two places are good.
posted by Ms. Saint at 4:39 PM on February 13, 2008

I came here to post essentially the same thing as Ms. Saint. Sedona for the view, South Mountain for convenience. Here is the list of trails on South Mountain.
I would most recommend Mormon Trail. It's only a mile but is steep enough to earn a high moderate rating, as you can see from the link. There is actually a fair amount of variance in the kind of scenery you see from trail to trail on the mountain, and I find Mormon to be the most picturesque.
There is enough traffic so that people are there at virtually any time, which I imagine adds to the safety but detracts from the peacefulness. Due to the short length and precipitous incline there is also a lot of visibility, you can see nearly the whole trail from most vantage points.
Any trail besides the really long ones and Alta will probably work out fine.
posted by moift at 5:46 PM on February 13, 2008

If she's willing to drive about an hour, there're some relatively short, picturesque hiking trails at Lost Dutchman State Park, which adjoins Tanto National Forest; it's off the 60 around Apache Junction. I've hiked a couple of them, and they're pretty great. There are longer trails, too, in Tanto -- my roommate and several friends went on an overnight hike/camping trip last weekend.

If she ends up taking the longer trip to Sedona, I recommend she also stop by Montezuma's Well, which is off of I-17 near the exit for Sedona. It's only about a one mile hike, but it's gorgeous with some very interesting scenery including native american cliff-dwellings set into the cliff walls of a sinkhole/lake.
posted by Alterscape at 5:48 PM on February 13, 2008

Haven't been to AZ so can't speak locally, but this site has trail reviews that i've never been disappointed with, highly recommend.

For "woman hiking alone" she should learn some bad ass kung fu (also highly recommend.)
posted by oblio_one at 5:57 PM on February 13, 2008

Try the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. A beautiful safe place one hour from Phoenix.
posted by Xurando at 6:14 PM on February 13, 2008

Best answer: Cannot believe no one has recommended Camelback Mountain (not for absolute beginners, fairly steep) or Squaw Peak (oh, sorry, Piestewa Peak). Right smack dab in the middle of town, and safe due to the fact that they are the most popular hiking trails in town. You won't find much solitude there, if you take my meaning. Great city views. Lesser known, with desert views, are my favorite Go John Trail or North Mountain, in the Northern metro area.

Sedona is breathtakingly beautiful but at least 2 hours away. And breathtakingly repetitous in every other new agey way.
posted by uaudio at 6:30 PM on February 13, 2008

She doesn't have to hike alone unless she really wants to. There are several hiking Meetup groups in Phoenix.
posted by fuse theorem at 9:08 PM on February 13, 2008

I recommend Papago Park which is convenient to Scottsdale and has one of the more interesting geological formations in the valley. It's also right next door to the Desert Botanical Garden which is a must-see for any nature lover visiting Phoenix. The garden has quite a few miles of paved trails among the cacti, and is a haven for local wildlife like hummingbirds and quail.
posted by TungstenChef at 9:56 PM on February 13, 2008

Second Camelback Mountain. Great views of the surrounding areas, and mellow enough that you can run it if you were so inclined. I'm a very lazy hiker and I've run it.
posted by padraigin at 11:07 PM on February 13, 2008

Just to echo what everyone else is saying, I think both the Boyce Thompson Arboretum and Desert Botanical Gardens are probably the best places to get to know the desert... BTA is way bigger, but further out of town. Totally worth the drive, though.

I dunno, guys... Camelback is pretty intense. Don't get me wrong -- I love it and it's one of my favorite places to go running / scrambling, but is it "easy to moderate?" (I see all kinds of people on that mountain who just weren't prepared, really suffering... particularly on the Echo Canyon side.) Totally rewarding, though, if you want a great view of the city and a challenge... and she should choose the Cholla Canyon side.

Piestewa... that's a really intense, awesome climb. Out of the Squaw Peak parking lot, there are all kinds of great trails for beginners, though. Pretty much that whole area is great -- there's good stuff all over the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, which snakes through the northern part of the city. Pretty much anywhere you hope on trail 100, it's gonna be good.
posted by ph00dz at 6:53 AM on February 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all your suggestions. She found Pinnacle Peak was the perfect trail for her. It wasn't crowded but there were people (e.g., couples, singles etc) Highly recommended!
posted by greenchile at 7:56 AM on February 23, 2008

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