Pinnacle Peak Trail

Top Five Best Hikes in Scottsdale Arizona

Pinnacle Peak TrailWhether you’re itching to get outside during Arizona’s temperate winter season, or to enjoy the cooler early summer mornings, heading out for a hike in Scottsdale is sure to be a fun adventure.  With over 120 miles of trails and almost a dozen trailheads in the city of Scottsdale as well as the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, there is a trail or a hike suitable for any fitness level.  In no special order of importance, here are five of the best hikes in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Brown’s Ranch, located at 30301 N. Alma School Parkway, is one of the city’s newest trailheads.  Featuring trails that are friendly to hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders and rock climbers, this trailhead connects to many miles of trails in the northern part of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.  The variety of different trails makes Brown’s Ranch one of the most popular areas to hike in Scottsdale.  A shorter hike is the Jane Rau Interpretative Trail, which is a half-mile loop suitable for all abilities and ages, named after a Scottsdale conservationist.  A longer hike with mountaintop views is the Brown’s Mountain Trail.  This trailhead has restrooms, a covered gathering area, hitching rails and water trough for horses, as well as drinking fountains (for both people and canines).

Gateway Trail, located at 18333 N. Thompson Peak Parkway, is a popular option for beginner and intermediate hikers.  This loop trail is 4.4 miles and offers fantastic scenery, with views of Thompson Peak and Camelback Mountain.  From this trailhead are several other trails.   The Bajada Trail, a short nature loop, is a perfect hike for children.    More advanced hikers can join the Windgate Pass Trail from the Gateway Loop, to link up to the Tom’s Thumb Trail.  The trailhead has shade ramadas, an amphitheater, and restrooms.  The trailhead is also equestrian-friendly with horse-trailer parking and hitching rails.

Tom’s Thumb, located off 23015 N. 128th Street, is a challenging hike with a reward of a phenomenal viewpoint at Tom’s Thumb, a 114-foot granite spire.  Hikers can access the thumb via Windgate Pass Trail from the Gateway Loop (an 11-mile round trip) or via this trailhead, about 4 miles round trip.  The Marcus Landslide Trail can also be accessed via this trailhead, for those wanting a flatter hike.  There are restrooms and shade ramadas, as well as ample parking.  There is no water at the trailhead, so be sure to take plenty with you.

Lost Dog Wash, located at 12601 N. 124th Street, is a very popular trailhead within the Preserve.  The main hike up to the overlook and back is approximately 4.25 miles round trip.  This is a good hike for beginner and intermediate hikers, and is a good option for children and dogs.  The Lost Dog Wash Trail also provides access to the nearby Taliesin Overlook.  The trailhead has restrooms, shade ramadas, water, and horse-trailer parking.

Finally, check out the Fraesfield Mountain and Granite Mountain trailheads, located at 13400 E. Rio Verde Drive and 31402 N. 136th St, respectively.  As the most recent trailheads in Scottsdale, they are more limited in amenities, with parking but no water or restrooms.  However, Fraesfield connects to great trails north and east of Fraesfield Mountain, including the Black Hill trails, and the Black Hill and Whiskey Bottle trails.  The Black Hill trail is an old Jeep road and is 2 miles each way.  The Whiskey Bottle trail is 2.9 miles each way with 210 feet elevation gain.   Granite Mountain offers access to the Granite Mountain Loop Trail, a 4.2 mile round trip hike, with a scenic lookout offering views of the Superstition Mountains and Red Mountain.

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