Best Hiking in Tempe
While most people who live elsewhere think of Arizona, they typically think about the summer heat. What they don’t realize is that we enjoy beautiful weather for the rest of the year, and that we’re home to hundreds of great hiking trails all around the state. If you’re new to the area and are itching to hit the trails, here’s some of the best spots here in the East Valley.
Tempe Hiking for Beginners
Located on the borders of Phoenix, Tempe and Scottsdale, Papago Park is home to “Hole in the Rock” and is adjacent to the Phoenix Zoo and the stunning Desert Botanical Garden. Full of easy trails if you’re just getting back in the habit, the habitat in-between the cities is full of red sandstone buttes, reflecting pools and a Hohokam archaeological site dating back 650 years. Trails in Papago Park include:
- West Park Accessible Trail, 1.2 miles
- West Park Loop Trail, 4 miles
- Nature Trail, .25 miles
- South Pima Canyon Road
For your choice of trails of varying degrees of difficulty, head to Pima Canyon, located in South Mountain Park. Pima Canyon offers a selection of easier hikes suitable for just about anyone as well as a handful of moderate to difficult hikes for those looking for a greater challenge. While you’re out there, you’re very likely to see horseback riders and mountain bikers along the trails, and maybe a glimpse of a few petroglyphs in the rocks from the Hohokam, the original inhabitants of the area.
Camelback Mountain, one of the Best Hikes in Arizona
While it’s just a bit of a drive into Phoenix proper, Camelback Mountain is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the area. Definitely for the more advanced hiker looking for a workout, Camelback has two trails to the summit. The Echo Canyon trail is the more popular route, climbing 1,400 feet in just over a mile. 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. A quick calorie-burner, it’s probably best to leave the kids at home when you’re taking on this one.
Arizona has one of the most unique landscapes in the country, but when you’re hitting the trails, be sure to stay safe. Wear sunscreen and drink plenty of water. Happy trails!