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Amazing Hiking in Scottsdale, AZ: 7 Trails to Explore

Hiking in Scottsdale, AZ, is one of the best ways to explore the natural wonders of the greater Phoenix area. Here, visitors can experience the beauty of the desert environs with the benefit of a gorgeous climate. Whether you're climbing up peaks or strolling among flowering cacti, you’ll delight in the variety of trails. Each one can show you amazing views and give you wonderful memories. Keep reading to find out about some of the best hikes in and around Scottsdale that you’ll want to put on your bucket list!

Camelback Mountain

The Cholla Trail is one way to climb Camelback Mountain, a distinctive feature in the Scottsdale skyline. This is a demanding hike that is great for those who love adventure. Parts of the trail call for rock scrambling, meaning you’ll need to keep your hands free as you clamber up. But you don’t need to complete the entire hike to enjoy some of its pleasures, including phenomenal views and possible sightings of hawks and other wildlife. The path can be popular, so if you’re looking for a more quiet excursion, be sure to head out at less busy times avoiding peak traffic hours around lunchtime, especially on Saturdays.

If you’re looking for another challenging hike, you can try climbing Camelback Mountain by way of the Echo Canyon Trail, which is also demanding and steep. Although it’s shorter than the Cholla Trail, some consider it even more strenuous. On this trail, you’ll hike 1.23 miles straight up to the summit. In a very short distance, you'll have climbed almost 1,300 feet in altitude, so be sure to pack plenty of fluids!

Gateway Trailhead

The magnificent desert landscape of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve is a local gem. The Gateway Trailhead is one of its most popular spots and grants access to a few hiking routes that are great for hikers of all ability levels and ages. If you're planning to go hiking in Scottsdale, these routes are a fantastic way to explore and take in the sight of mountains and flourishing desert plants—including giant cacti, creosote bushes, and hardy trees.

The beautiful Bajada Nature Trail is a great option for an easy stroll and is even handicap-accessible. As for the other hiking routes, they’re more physically demanding but still doable for many people, and you can use them for running or jogging too. You can even bring your canine friends along for these adventures!

Lost Dog Wash Trailhead

The award-winning Lost Dog Wash Trailhead gives you access to multiple routes through the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Each path has its own charms and demands a different level of exertion. The Kovach Family Nature Trail, for example, is short and relatively easy, allowing you to stay on pavement and avoid straining uphill. In contrast, other trails have rocky sections and larger elevation gains.

Your visit to Scottsdale, AZ will be enriched with a hike from this trailhead. Depending on the path you take, you may wind up spotting Taliesin West, a famous house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. You may also come across a profusion of wildflowers in the spring or encounter sites where prehistoric people made tools. Not to mention, the views of the McDowell Mountains are stunning!

Pemberton Trail Loop

Just a couple miles over the hills from Lost Dog Wash, you’ll find McDowell Mountain Regional Park. At this spot, hiking, horseback riding, biking, and camping are all popular activities.

For hiking, you have multiple routes to choose from. One that comes highly recommended is the Pemberton Trail Loop, which is roughly 15 miles. Although you don’t need to be an experienced hiker to enjoy this trail, it helps to have a certain level of fitness. The rewards of hiking the Pemberton Trail Loop include an immersion in the beauty of the desert, opportunities for spotting birds and other wildlife, stunning photos you’ll be eager to show family and friends, and an excellent workout.

If you’re looking for a shorter and easier hike in McDowell Mountain Regional Park, the Scenic Trail is a strong choice for visitors and locals who love hiking in Scottsdale. You’ll enjoy views of the Four Peaks and the green and brown palette of the landscape.

Piestewa Peak Summit Trail

At the end of a hike, an amazing sight to see is Greater Phoenix, AZ spread out in every direction. To enjoy this incredible view requires some hard work. The Piestewa Peak Summit Trail, located in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve, is just the trail for this goal. As you hike to Piestewa Peak, you’ll gain 1,200 feet in elevation!

On this hike, you’ll rely on a series of stairs cut out of rock. It’s also a very popular trail, so expect and prepare for crowded trail conditions, especially if you’re going during the weekend. But because of its challenge and the vista it rewards you, people hiking in Scottsdale love the adventures found on this trail.

Pinnacle Peak Park

When hiking in Scottsdale and the surrounding area, you won’t want to miss out on Pinnacle Peak Park. This trail gives you broad views of sunny skies, desert landscapes, and chances for once-in-a-lifetime photos. Along with being able to gaze at distant mountains, you’ll enjoy making your way through massive rock formations and past enormous cacti. Plus, if you reach the trail’s highest point, you’ll be at an elevation of over 2,800 feet—no small feat!

Keep in mind that this gorgeous trail isn’t a loop; you’ll have to go back over it to return to where you’ve parked. Have your camera ready in case you spot mule deer, gila monsters, and other creatures that call the Arizona desert their home.

Stay Safe

If you’re hiking in Scottsdale, AZ, or neighboring areas, you need to follow some basic tips for health and safety. Even in the winter, bring plenty of water with you on hikes. Wear shoes that fit well and have good traction. Use different kinds of sun protection, including sunglasses, sunscreen, and a cap or hat. On a blisteringly hot day, a thin, loose, and light-colored shirt can feel wonderful and help protect your skin. We also advise you to carry a map of your route and to stick to the main trails. Going off a trail makes it more likely that you’ll get lost, run into a rattlesnake, or suffer a fall.

Have a Home Base

If you’re looking to stay in amazing accommodations that are close to all the great trails for hiking in Scottsdale and the surrounding area, the Four Seasons Residence Club at Troon North is perfect for you! As part of The Experiences Collection by Welk Resorts, this stunning location offers a peaceful oasis when you take a break from hiking and exploring. You can rejuvenate with a swim in the pool, play some golf or tennis, or relax and enjoy your luxurious villa.

Not a Welk Owner? Find out how you can have access to exclusive resorts like Four Seasons Residence Club at Troon North and many more by calling 888.418.0125.

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