Are you an avid hiker, one who loves nothing more than to hit the trails and explore everywhere you visit? Scottsdale, Arizona should be on your bucket list! This area offers plenty of exciting hiking opportunities in and just outside the city, making it a prime destination for those who find their bliss on the trail. Check out our ultimate Scottsdale hiking guide below to learn about all the spots you won’t want to miss during your journey.

Browse Our Full Selection of Rentals Here!

Best Hiking Destinations in Our Scottsdale Hiking Guide

If you are short on time, it can be good to do some research ahead of time to find the best hiking destinations that offer multiple paths, numerous miles of connecting trails, and far-reaching views so you can get the most bang for your buck.

We recommend spending time in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve during your Scottsdale trip. This preserve offers a protected and sustainable habitat, featuring interconnected paths that lead to challenging peaks and easy walks through the desert landscape. The preserve also offers numerous trailheads, climbing spots, native plant species, and much more.

The Usery Mountain Regional Park is another fantastic wilderness venue with far-reaching views, wildlife, and breathtaking sights. This park is located on the east side of the Valley and features nearly 3,700 acres of paths near the Goldfield Mountains. It features Lake Pleasant, Maricopa Trail, McDowell Mountains, and much more.

Finally, Camelback Mountain is the mountain towering out of the sky right near Scottdale. You can even walk to the trailhead from some of the closest spots in town, making it easy for a post-brunch hike or pre-dinner walk. There are two main trails, Echo Canyon and Cholla Trail, so choose wisely which one you want to do before setting off on the towering peak.

Best Easy Hikes

We recommend doing the Gateway Horseshoe Loop if you want to go for a one-hour hike early in the morning before it gets too hot. This relatively flat trail is great for beginner hikers who want to bring their kids with them or go for an easy stroll post-dinner or pre-breakfast. Head here by going to the Gateway entry structure and follow the Loop Trail to the Saguaro Trail.

Suppose you are going for a walk with younger kids or those who may need wheelchair assistance. In that case, we highly recommend the Kovach Family Nature Path. This access route features concrete, asphalt, and other accessible terrain, making it suitable for those needing extra assistance. The trail is wide, paved, and easy to follow for the entire duration of your hike. And the views are beautiful!

For beginner hikers who want a little more of a challenge that should last between 60 and 90 minutes, we recommend the Lost Dog Ringtail Trail, which offers a 2.4-mile loop around the best sections of the desert. This gentle hike has a few challenging sections to test your fitness and get your heart pounding. Kids will love feeling a little more ‘out in the wilderness’ during this hike!

Suppose you want to extend this hike to a moderate version. In that case, you can also extend the Lost Dog Ringtail Trail to include the Taliesin Overlook, showcasing the breathtaking Taliesin West made by the infamous Frank Lloyd Wright. Combine sightseeing and tourist attractions in this 4-mile loop out and back hike.

Our last selection for a fun and easy hike for people of all ages and interest levels is the Freshfield Loop Hike, also known as the whiskey Bottle Turpentine Black Hill trail. This cool path and combination of segments winds you through vegetation, wildflowers, cacti, mountain views, and rolling hills in the foreground.

After doing an easy climb, you can complete the easy 1.6-mile path by following the sandy and dirt path, soaking in the marigolds, yellow flowers, spring vegetation, and desert scrub. Make sure you take some sunset photos of the Four Peaks and Superstition Mountains in the distance.

Check Out These Vacation Homes!

Moderate Hikes

There are numerous moderate paths you can choose from for a slightly longer walk that might have you breaking a sweat. We know that easy paths are good for families with young kids or those who want an easy and flat post-dinner walk. Still, for those who want a couple of hours of exploration, being in the sunshine, and trekking up some challenging hills to far-reaching viewpoints, these are the best.

Just like the Gateway Loop Horseshoe Trail for an easy section, you can also continue onto the Gateway Trail for a full loop experience that lasts nearly 4 miles. The 4.5-mile loop trail brings you along moderate terrain, offering pristine views of wildflowers and the never-ending desert. The path takes you more than 650 feet of elevation into the air to challenge your quads!

Another great moderate option for fit individuals is the Lost Dog Old Jeep Trail, which features steep sections, rocky paths, and 4 miles of up and downs that are great for keeping fit and soaking in the views. We love the history involved in this hike, featuring a WW2 plane wreckage site that will have history buffs taking tons of pics during this multi-hour excursion.

Lastly, the Pinnacle Peak Trail is arguably one of the most famous trails that tourists can tackle during their time in Scottsdale. We love this short but intense hike, which takes you steeply to a super noticeable rock formation that overlooks the desert, wildflowers, animals, flora, fauna, and two down below. At a round trip of 3.5 miles, the 1,300 feet of elevation gain really comes on strong!

Challenging Hikes

The Sunrise Trail and Sunrise Trail East offer a chance to walk more than 1,150 feet of elevation gain during a 4-mile trip, offering expansive and far-reaching views of the McDowell Mountains in every direction. Although this hike is short in length, it makes up for it with elevation gain and strenuous terrain that challenges gym rats and fitness freaks who want to break a sweat during a hike.

The Tom’s Thumb Path is a second option for a challenging day out in the desert away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Scottsdale. This trail takes you steeply up a hill, but you will get one of the best payouts and rewards of all of the hikes on this list. This incredible rock formation offers some of the best views of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve in the entire state.

For another hard day out in the mountains, Black Mountain is really a tough undertaking. This challenging out-and-back path begins by going deeply through the bush and continues to do so until you reach the top. Make sure you stay the course and keep going until you reach the peak, soaking in the vistas featuring McDowell Mountains, Pinnacle Peak, and Cave Creek.

Lastly, the Flatiron Siphon Draw Trail, located near the Lost Dutchman State Park, is a 5.5-mile round-trip path that features over 3,000 feet of elevation gain. Yes, you read that right! Over 3,000 feet of gain is no joke, offering you challenging terrain, steep hills, up and downs, and grueling rock climbing to reach the peak. But we love the toughness of this hike that makes it feel very remote and intense.

Browse Our Luxurious Scottsdale Rentals!

What to Bring

Before you set off on a 10-hour hike, or even a 1-hour hike, there are hiking essentials that you need to pack in your bag to stay safe and healthy during your trip in the desert. Although the timeframe is a big factor in what you should bring with you in your bag, the heat and the arid landscape of Scottsdale make being prepared key to avoiding dehydration and malnourishment. We highly recommend bringing a few essentials to you on your hiking journey to ensure you cover all of your bases. This way, you can have a fun and stress-free time in the mountains during your upcoming vacation!

First, you need to bring the essential hiking gear, including the backpack or waist pack, for a shorter hike. If you need a little extra help on steep slopes or slippery terrain, consider bringing trekking poles or traction devices.

Next, make sure you are dressed properly. The sun is a super strong beer in Arizona, so wearing wicking clothing that covers your skin is key to avoiding dehydration and protecting your skin from the intense UV rays. We recommend wearing a moisture-wicking shirt, quick-drying pants or shorts, long-sleeve layer for sun and bugs, and bringing additional jackets for safety.

Third, using navigational tools and being prepared with electronic items is good for safety in case you are lost or disoriented. Bringing a map or compass is good for longer treks, whereas bringing a GPS device or your phone is key for all endeavors. Bring a spare battery and a smartphone if you can to help with your route finding.

Furthermore, only leave for a hike, no matter the length, with proper food and water. You never know what can happen in the wilderness, so make sure you bring ample water bottles and reserve storage for long days. Consider bringing trail snacks, lunch, granola bars, sandwiches, and non-perishable food items that will stay good during extreme weather.

Finally, bringing personal items and sun protection is key to a long day out on the trails. Bring antibacterial in case of any cuts, a flashlight if your hike takes longer than you thought, a whistle or emergency beacon, and sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat for UV protection.

Stay with Us at Scottsdale Rentals

When you stay with us at Scottsdale Rentals, you are only a few steps away from beginning a challenging, fun, or beautiful hike that is perfect for your entire group. If you’re traveling with young kids, take a short and easy hike through the desert landscape to see beautiful wildflowers, cacti, and animals.

For those who are interested in having a healthy and fitness-forward vacation filled with running, golfing, biking, and hiking, you are spoiled for choice here in Arizona. Tackle Camelback Mountain, spend the entire day in McDowell Sonoran Preserve, or see if you can manage climbing Flatiron Siphon Draw. We guarantee you’ll have a blast no matter the trail you choose!

When you stay with us in one of our luxurious and cozy rentals from Scottsdale Rentals, you can head home after a long day in the mountains to a relaxing, comfortable, homey property that feels just like home. Relax on the couch, put your favorite show on the TV, watch a family-friendly flick with your kids, and cook dinner in the modern kitchen to have a chilled-out night.

Instead of going back to a drab and boring hotel room after a day out in the desert, returning to a cozy and high-end home is the perfect respite from a challenging day on the body. Depending on the house, you can even hop in the hot tub to ease your aching muscles, jump in the pool to cool off, or take a bath in the modern bathroom to de-stress.

All of our agents at Scottsdale Rentals are here to make sure you have the best time possible. Select between 1- to 2-bedroom rentals for couple’s getaways, 3- to 5-bedroom houses for larger groups, family reunions, or friend getaways, or 6+ bedroom rentals for corporate retreats.

No matter which one you choose, you will have space to chill out, relax, read a book, take a nap, or enjoy spending time in nature. When you finally decide to head into town after taking a shower post-hike, you can check out the dining options, local things to do, super-green golf courses, and nearby attractions.

Everything you could want is just outside your doorstep. After a long day of hiking, you can walk to Virtu Honest Craft for Mediterranean cuisine that will knock your socks off. Or head to Franco’s Italian Caffe for the best pasta in the city. We also love Craft 64 for wood-fired pizzas and Prado Restaurant for fresh vegetables and perfectly cooked steak.

As you can see, staying with us in one of our convenient homes offers the perfect chance for you to really embrace the laid-back and healthy lifestyle. Contact us today at Scottsdale Rentals to find the ideal home for you and your family, friends, or partner this upcoming holiday.

Book a Luxurious Villa!