Visit the Phoenix Mountains Preserve

Laura Williams

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The Phoenix Mountains Preserve is one of the best places to hike in all of Arizona. This park offers something for everyone, from novice hikers to those looking for a more challenging trek. You’ll find miles of trails that wind through the Sonoran Desert, providing stunning views of the city below. So grab your sunscreen and water bottle and head to the Phoenix Mountains Preserve for an unforgettable hiking experience!

There are several parks in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve, including Shaw Butte Park, North Mountain Park, Piestewa Peak, Dreamy Draw Recreation Area, Shadow Mountain, Camelback Mountain Park, and Papago Park. The Lookout Mountain Preserve and Piestewa Peak recreation area are also nearby. Shaw Butte is the highest point in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve, and it offers panoramic views of the city. North Mountain has more than 20 miles of trails, and Camelback Mountain is a popular destination for rock climbers. Papago Park is home to the Desert Botanical Garden, one of the best places in the city to see cacti and other desert plants.

Each of these parks offers its own unique set of hiking trails and views. If you’re looking for a challenging hike, head to Shaw Butte Park or North Mountain Park. If you’re looking for something a bit more leisurely, Papago Park is a great option. No matter which park you choose, you’re sure to enjoy an amazing day outdoors in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve!

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What is the best time of year to visit the Phoenix Mountains Preserve

The best time of year to visit the Phoenix Mountains Preserve is during the cooler months, from October to April. The weather is milder and there is less chance of experiencing extreme temperatures. The trails are also less crowded during these months, so you’ll have more room to explore.

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What should you bring with you when you hike in the preserve?

In addition to sunscreen and a water bottle, make sure to wear comfortable shoes and clothing. You’ll also want to bring a hat or sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun. And if you’re hiking during the summer months, be sure to bring extra water and snacks to stay hydrated and fueled. Due to the many cacti and other desert plants, it’s also a good idea to wear long pants and sleeves to protect your skin.

What are some of the things you can do at the parks

There are many things to do at the Phoenix Mountains Preserve, from hiking and biking to horseback riding and picnicking. The park also offers a playground for kids, as well as a visitor center with exhibits on the local flora and fauna. If you’re looking for a more relaxing experience, you can also take a walk around the park’s lake.

How to get there

The Phoenix Mountains Preserve is located in the heart of Phoenix, Arizona. To get there, take the I-17 freeway to the Squaw Peak Parkway exit and head west. The park is open from sunrise to sunset, and there is no admission fee.

What kind of views can you expect from the trails?

The Phoenix Mountains Preserve offers stunning views of the city below. You’ll wind through the Sonoran Desert, with its unique plants and animals, and get to experience the beauty of the desert landscape. On a clear day, you might even be able to see the nearby mountains.

What are some of the challenges you might face on the trails?

The trails in the preserve range from easy to difficult, so there’s something for everyone. However, some of the more challenging trails can be slippery and rocky. Make sure to take your time and watch your step, especially if you’re hiking in the heat of the day.

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What are some of the best trails to hike in the preserve?

There are miles of trails to explore in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve, so you’re sure to find one that’s perfect for you. Some popular trails include the Echo Canyon Trail, Piestewa Peak Summit Trail, and the Dreamy Draw Recreation Area. Whatever trail you choose, you’re sure to have an incredible hiking experience.

Is there anything else I should know before I go?

Remember to follow the Leave No Trace principles when you hike, so that we can all enjoy the preserve for years to come. And don’t forget to sign the trail register at the beginning of your hike!

Best Hiking Gear for Phoenix Mountains Preserve

Phoenix Mountains Preserve has a diverse landscape and one of the toughest trails in Arizona – Piestewa Peak. Mountain peaks and the desert are stunning, but also hot so be sure to have enough drinking water and comfortable clothes. Be also prepared for rattlesnakes, mountain lions, scorpions, and bats that you may encounter.

Try to hike early in the morning or in the evening to avoid the heat. We don’t recommend using hiking poles for hard trails as they got stuck and create more problems than support.

  • Good hiking clothes.
  • Sunscreen and a hat (or a cap) to protect your head and skin from the sun. Bug repellent will also be good to have.
  • Power Bank for phones or a travel solar phone charger 
  • 3L water reservoir to stay well hydrated. All visitors will tell you to get plenty of water so don’t ignore this recommendation! From April to October heat is the most extreme and each year people even die from it. 
  • Mini first aid kit (get all you need from your home aid kit or get a travel one, adhesive plaster is a must) 
  • Headlamp or a regular torchlight, or even a flashlight on your phone (least recommended) as you may want to enjoy the sunset view but yet you will have to carefully get back. 
  • All of it will nicely fit in this bestselling one-day hiking 18L Osprey backpack (even the 3L water reservoir, this backpack has a sleeve for it!).
  • If you are taking your mountain bike with you, make sure you have a repair kit with you.
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Hiking in Phoenix Mountains Preserve FAQ

How big is the Phoenix Mountain Preserve?

Phoenix Mountain Preserve is a 7,071-acre big park featuring mountain peaks and deserts but also cacti & native wildlife. It is great for families with kids, solo outdoor enthusiasts, mountain bikers, dogs, and some areas are accessible in a wheelchair. 

There are not only wild trails and one of the hardest trails in Arizona – Piestewa Peak, but also great facilities for picnics, bathrooms, a gift shop with some snacks, and benches to sit down and enjoy the peace and quiet. 

What is happening at Dreamy Draw park?

Dreamy Draw park is currently closed and expected to be closed through Fall 2022 because there are some park improvement works and most importantly, a new water pipeline should be installed underground according to the City of Phoenix Drought Pipeline Project. 

But don’t worry, trails west of SR-51, trail 100, and the trails east of the paved bike path in Phoenix Mountain Preserve are open to the public.

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