9 Best Hikes in Scottsdale
When you think of Scottsdale, luxury resorts and world-class golf courses may immediately come to mind. However, you may not realize that Scottsdale is home to hundreds of scenic hiking trails—all within minutes of the city!
Before embarking on a Scottsdale hiking adventure, be sure to bring plenty of water and sun protection so you can stay hydrated and guard your skin against the sun’s harsh rays. Then, choose one of the following trails we recommend hiking during your time in Scottsdale to begin your adventure!
Located just outside of Scottsdale, AZ, in Phoenix, Camelback Mountain is one of the most popular hiking trails in Phoenix. Camelback Mountain has two trails—the Echo Canyon Summit Trail and the Cholla Trail.
1. Echo Canyon Trail
Length: 2.5 miles | Elevation: 1,420 feet | Type: Out & back
The Echo Canyon Summit Trail is a strenuous hike with spectacular views of Metro Phoenix. With an elevation gain of nearly 1,500 feet in just 2.5 miles, you can understand why this hike is challenging (and a good workout!). Due to the steep sections, this popular climb is only recommended for experienced hikers.
2. Cholla Trail
Length: 2.6 miles | Elevation: 1,204 feet | Type: Out & back
If you’d still like to trek up Camelback Mountain but don’t want to suffer from too much elevation gain on the Echo Canyon Summit Trail, this trail is a slightly longer, yet less strenuous, option to experience the scenic views from the top of the mountain.
Pinnacle Peak Park
Pinnacle Peak Park is a beautiful, scenic trailhead in North Scottsdale. It has just one hike, but it’s one of the most popular in the Phoenix Metro area!
3. Pinnacle Peak Summit Trail
Length: 4.0 miles | Elevation: 1,033 feet | Type: Out & back
This scenic trail in Pinnacle Peak Park is one of the best hikes in Scottsdale. This wide, smooth path in Pinnacle Peak Park offers a moderate trek to the top, and you’ll likely see critters like roadrunners, quail, and rabbits along the way. Plus, in the spring, this North Scottsdale trailhead blooms with desert wildflowers in dazzling shades of yellow, orange, purple, and more!
McDowell Sonoran Preserve
Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve is the premier location for Scottsdale hiking and is a popular photography location for its gorgeous desert views. With hundreds of hiking trails to choose from, hikers, mountain bikers, and tourists alike can choose from challenging hikes and scenic strolls at this diverse trailhead.
4. Gateway Loop Trail
Length: 4.4 miles | Elevation: 721 feet | Type: Loop
This easy to moderate hike offers minimal elevation gain over a 4.5-mile distance, so it’s perfect for a slow-paced walk through the desert. Since this hike is one of the most popular trails in Scottsdale, be prepared to run into other hikers, especially if you’re hiking on the weekends. It’s also dog-friendly, so it’s great for hiking with your pup!
5. Tom’s Thumb Trail
Length: 4.0 miles | Elevation: 1,236 feet | Type: Out & back
Tom’s Thumb Trail is a challenging climb that’s widely considered one of the best hiking trails in Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve. It’s a popular location for hiking and mountain biking, and it’s also dog-friendly, so you’ll likely encounter other adventurers during your hike.
When you reach the top, you’ll be greeted by tons of large boulders, including Tom’s Thumb, a thumb-shaped boulder that the hike gets its name from. You’ll also be able to enjoy panoramic views of the McDowell Mountains and Fountain Hills while you sit and rest before heading back down the mountain.
6. Lost Dog Wash Trail
Length: 4.4 miles | Elevation: 518 feet | Type: Loop
The Lost Dog Wash was once a route for Jeep tours. Now, it’s a scenic trail through the vast desert with a minimal elevation gain and views of the Sonoran Desert, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, Pinnacle Peak, and more.
7. Sunrise Trail East Side
Length: 4.3 miles | Elevation: 1,184 feet | Type: Out & back
This moderately challenging hike to Sunrise Peak is one of the most popular trails in the Sonoran Desert. It offers panoramic views of the McDowell Mountains and granite rock formations at the top, and you’ll be able to see beautiful blooming wildflowers along the trail in the spring.
Cave Creek Regional Park
Cave Creek Regional Park is located north of Scottsdale off Carefree Highway, between Anthem and Carefree. This park is popular for its hiking trails, picnic spots, and campgrounds.
8. Go John Trail
Length: 5.9 miles | Elevation: 849 feet | Type: Loop
The Go John Trail is a popular hike with views of desert trees, like palo verde, spring wildflowers, and views of Spur Cross Ranch nearby. You’ll see plenty of people hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking on this trail, and dogs are welcome, as long as they’re kept on a leash.
9. Quartz Trail Loop
Length: 3.5 miles | Elevation: 406 feet | Type: Loop
Similar to the Go John Trail, the Quartz Trail Loop is a popular location for hikers, bikers, and horseback riders from this popular trailhead. However, since this hike is shorter and has less elevation gain, it’s a bit easier and a better option for kids and dogs who might get tired more easily.
Other Popular Hiking Trails in Scottsdale
Visitors should also check out these recommended hiking trails around Scottsdale and in Northern Arizona during their trip to the desert:
- Piestewa Peak Summit at Piestewa Peak
- Hole-In-The-Rock at Papago Park
- Hieroglyphic Trail & Wave Cave Trail in the Superstition Mountains
- Hidden Valley Trail & Dobbins Lookout at South Mountain Preserve
- Verde River Trail in the Mazatal Wilderness
- Bright Angel Trail at the Grand Canyon National Park
- Four Peaks & Pemberton Trail in the McDowell Mountain Regional Park
If you’re visiting Scottsdale soon and would like to explore several of the hikes on this list during your vacation, we recommend choosing a location to stay near the popular trailheads in Scottsdale.
Enjoy parks, but looking to do something other than hike? Check out this list of the best parks in Scottsdale.
Stay Near the Best Hikes in Scottsdale with Stay With Style Scottsdale
Many of our spacious, luxury vacation rentals in Central Scottsdale offer close proximity to Pinnacle, Peak, Camelback Mountain, and the McDowell Mountains, and they’re just a short drive away from the city’s other trailheads, too!
Browse our vacation rentals to find the perfect location for your stay.