Trails and Mountains

So you want to hike or run the trails in Phoenix? Good news...you're in the right spot!

The Phoenix metropolitan area has over 42,000 acres of parks and mountain preserves. Those parks and preserves consist of over 300+ miles of trails -- a very conservative estimate, considering many trails are two-in-one (clockwise and counter-clockwise). The interconnecting trail systems throughout the city (and state!) also allows for creating a nearly endless array of unique and interesting routes to run and hike.

Below, you will find information and links to the various parks, mountains, preserves, forests and infamous trails in and around the greater Phoenix area. This list is an evolving resource that will continue to improve over time.


Mountains and Preserves

Located on the southwest side of Phoenix, the Estrella Mountain Regional Park consists of over 20,000 acres of desert, mountains an...believe it or not...wetland. With that kind of variety, the 33+ miles of trails make for an awesome hiking and running experience.

There is a $7.00 fee per fee to enter the park if you don't have an annual pass. Maricopa County Parks Pass.

Located on the northeast outskirts of Phoenix, this 21,000-acre park contains more than 50 miles of trails for with levels of difficulty (including a competitive track made for blazing trail runs). Not to be confused with McDowell Sonoran Preserve, the McDowell Mountain is just north of the town of Fountain Hills and the Fort McDowell community.

There is a $7.00 fee per fee to enter the park if you don't have an annual pass. Maricopa County Parks Pass.

Located to the northeast of Scottsdale, and west of the McDowell Mountain Regional Park, this 30,500 acre preserve is cholk-full of awesomeness. Open from sunrise to sunset, with free parking at several trailheads, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve consists of more than 225 miles of enjoyable trails!
This reserve, also known as the Paloma Regional Preserve, is located in the northwest corner of the Phoenix area. It consists of several mountains with a number of great trails suitable for running, hiking and biking: Calderwood Butte, Eastwing Mountain, West Wing Mountain and Sunrise Mountain.
Located in the heart of Phoenix, this preserve consists of several popular mountain peaks like Dreamy Draw, Camelback Mountain, North Mountain, Lookout Mountain, Piestewa Peak, Shadow Mountain and Shaw Butte. Within these ranges are more than 23,000 acres os desert with a plethora of interconnecting trails of all varieties.
Located in North Phoenix just north of AZ 101 and just east of the I-17, the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve consists of almost 10,000 acres and over 36 miles of trails that are excellent for hikers and runners. The trails can be accessed at three trailhead locations: Desert Vista, Desert Hills and Apache Wash. A few of the most popular trails in this preserve are loops: Dixie Mountain Loop and the Sonoran Desert Loop.
Located in the very southeast corner of the greater Phoenix metro area, just south of Queen Creek, the San Tan Mountain park consists of over 10,000 acres of Sonoran Desert and features some fantastic trails for hiking and running. One of the more popular trails in this area is known as the Goldmine Trail.

There is a $7.00 fee per fee to enter the park if you don't have an annual pass. Maricopa County Parks Pass.

Considered one of the largest recreational playgrounds in the world, at more than 16,000 acres South Mountain Park/Preserve contains a treasure-trove of hiking and running opportunities for humans of all varieties. Located on the south side of Phoenix, South Mountain "is one of the largest municipally managed parks in the nation." Many of the trailheads are located not far from the main freeways (10, 60, 101, 202) and/or residential areas. This mountainous park consists of three mountain ranges - the Ma Ha Tauk, Gila and Guadalupe -- all of which have trails weaving up and down, in and out. With well over 60 miles worth of trails/routes, ranging from shot-distance nature walks to the almost 15 mile National Trail, South Mountain is a hiker's and trail runner's delight.
Located north of Mesa, Usery Mountain Regional Park is almost 4,000 acres of Sonoran Desert landscape and offers over 32 miles of trails for hiking, running, biking and horseback riding (if that's your thing). It's also located near Tonto National Forest, and offers amazing views of the Superstition Mountains. Its 22 designated trailheads make it a highly accessible place for exploring. Perhaps one of the most popular trails on the Usery range, and one this site highly recommends, is Pass Mountain.

There is a $7.00 fee per fee to enter the park if you don't have an annual pass. Maricopa County Parks Pass.

Located to the west of Phoenix and north of Buckeye in a town called Waddell, the White Tanks comprise almost 30,000 acres of desert landscape with almost 40 miles of trails, including a mountain bike competition track.

There is a $7.00 fee per fee to enter the park if you don't have an annual pass. Maricopa County Parks Pass.

Popular Parks

Located in North Phoenix just off the I17, Deem Hills is made up of 1,000 acres of Sonoran Desert and is "known for it's unique basalt volcanic rock formations." With several trail routes, Deems is perfect for casual runs and hikes.
Located roughly an hour north of Phoenix, the 23,000 acres of water and desert known as Lake Pleasant reservoir features over 100 miles of shoreline and includes a number of great trails with picturesque views.

There is a $7.00 fee per fee to enter the park if you don't have an annual pass. Maricopa County Parks Pass.

This a 320-acre state park is located to the East of Phoenix and north of Apache Junction and is part of the Apache Trail. Named after the Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine, this park features several hiking trails, including on of the most popular -- and difficult -- trails in the valley, Flatiron.

There is a $10.00 fee per vehicle for day-use visitors, payable in cash only.

Tucked away into the neighborhoods of northern Phoenix, North Mountain is part of the Phoenix Mountains Preserve (PMP) and contains the second highest peak in the preserve. It offers a wide variety of trails for hiking and running, ranging from casual to difficult, and from short to long. It's also next to Shaw Butte, another peak in the PMP.
Perhaps the most well-known park in the Phoenix area, Papago Park offers easily accessible trails for running, hiking and causual walks with the family. Papago Park is also home two of the Phoenix Zoo and the Desert Botanical Garden, with trails winding throughout.
Located to the East of Phoenix, beyond Queen Creek, the Peralta Regional Park is one of the newer parks in the region. It consists of about 500 acres of desert backcountry at the base of the Superstition Mountains, with several miles of trails that are great for hiking and running.

There is a $7.00 fee per vehicle for day-use visitors. You can purchase your pass online in advance (see link), or pay onsite. Day Use Pass

Located in the northwest corner of the Phoenix metro area, just off the SR 101 in north Glendale, Thunderbird Conservation Park (TCP) offers about 15 miles of multi-use trails for hiking and running. This 1,185-acre park is "dedicated to preserving the desert environment," and is open from sunrise to sunset on a daily basis. The trails at TCP can be crowded during peak hours, so make sure to adhere to etiquette while enjoying the park.