Phoenix may be in the desert, but the Sonoran is far from a barren landscape. Explore the city's unique surroundings with one of the many hidden hikes waiting to be found. Who knows what you'll discover along each trail? Petroglyphs, panoramic views, rare plants and animals, and even wildflowers can be seen around each bend!
McDowell Mountain Regional Park has some awesome hidden hikes. Dixie Mine Trail, which is great for hiking and biking, starts about a mile from the parking lot, and is almost six miles round-trip. The trail dips and gains a bit of elevation, but is a pretty moderate hike and along the way you can see wildlife, flowers, cacti, petroglyphs and, of course, the mine. It's one of the less crowded of the 20 trails in the park, but with so many hiking options, it's not hard to find one that's perfect for your skill level.
Hiking near the Bartlett Reservoir is a fantastic way to spend an afternoon. The best way to experience the lake? Traverse the Palo Verde Trail along its shores. The hike is about 7.4 miles round-trip and will take between 3-4 hours without stopping. Definitely plan to leave a little extra time on the hike, though. There are lots of little coves to explore and swim from and a few spots along the way that have excellent fishing. Bring a swimsuit, a towel, and your angling gear along with plenty of water!
Cave Creek Regional Park has trails for horses and bikers, along with some that are great for hikers as well. If you're looking for a really short, quick hike, the park's Clay Mine Trail is only about 1.5 miles out and back, and takes you to an abandoned mine that you can actually go inside. Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for saguaros and prickly pears!
White Tank Mountain Regional Park is another park right near Phoenix with great hiking options. The Waterfall Trail is awesome, with petroglyphs to peep along the hike, but it's incredibly popular. For a hike that's a little less crowded, try the Waddell Trail. It's a quick 1-mile loop in a wash that offers great views of the mountains. It connects the Mesquite Trail with the Ford Canyon Trail, which are both longer and equally nice hikes. This one also happens to be dog-friendly, as long as your pooch is on a leash!
South Mountain Park has plenty of hikes as well. Bursera Trail is one of the lesser-known loop hikes in the park, and at 7.1 miles, it's a nice, long trail with tons of wildlife and botanic beauty, including lots of saguaros and wildflowers. For an added bonus, the fourth Sunday of every month is "Silent Sunday,” when the main roads in the park are closed to motor vehicles. It's a lot less crowded, and a lot more serene. Also, don't miss the popular Holbert Trail to Dobbins Lookout. It's a little less hidden but the view from the top of the mountain is an absolute stunner.
From petroglyphs and scenic overlooks to wildflowers and abandoned mines, the scenic hikes in Phoenix are endless. As we all know, choosing the road (or trail) less taken can make a world of difference, so if you're really looking to get back in touch with nature, one of these hidden hikes might be calling your name.
It's time to go beyond. Follow trails that reveal mighty mountaintops. Wander among iconic landscapes beneath picture-perfect skies. Let the Sonoran Desert be your guide to limitless adventure.