July 26, 2009 ---- Wow, this place just beside the Phoenix Zoo is just amazing -- it is a big HOLE in the middle of the a little mountain, and you climb up easily, and be up there in just 5 minutes (maybe not for wheelchair-bound though)! Easy going up the the side of the hill where they have steps that go up exactly to the hole...and once there you get these amazing views of the Phoenix area!
You also see planes going in and out of the Sky Harbor Airport...the many palm trees around the area of the Phoenix Zoo. And best of all, going up to this hole is FREE! It is weird that sometimes people who have gone a lot of times to the Phoenix Zoo have not even been up to this hole....
There are a lot of choices for hiking in Phoenix, and this includes the Camelback Mountain (the most famous landmark which resembles a crouching dromedary) which is a 1,000 foot rise to the top.
The Camelback Mountain is located in Paradise Valley. Two very strenuous trails exist: 1) Echo Canyon on the north side (the top of the hump, with sheer red cliffs), in Paradise Valley at McDonald Dr and Tatum Blvd, 2) Cholla on the East side, in Scottsdale at 64th St north of Camelback Rd. Along the hike, you will see glimpses of gated mansions and ritzy resort spas for which Scottsdale is known for.
A less strenuous hike would be the Piestewa Peak, the mountain whose previous name of Squaw Peak was changed in honor of the first female Arizonian killed in Iraq. It has 2 summit trails: 1) inside Piestewa Park (22nd St and Lincoln Dr), 2)through a private yard with an easement (topping out at 2,608 feet).
There is also the North Mountain at 7th St south of Thunderbird Rd, which has multiple trails with varying amounts of difficulty.
Just be sure to bring lots of water and suntan!
South Mountain has beautiful views of the city from atop. There are many different hiking paths. This is truly a beautiful area to visit. You can also go horseback riding in here,hike the many trails, take a scenic drive or mountain bike.
The mountain recently changed it's name to Piestewa Peak after Lori Piestewa a Native American soldier killed in Iraq. This is a mountain directly north of downtown, just to the northwest of Camelback. There are several hiking trails around it, but the most popular is the hike up to the peak (2608 ft - 795 m). It's a 2 1/2 mile roundtrip hike that is fairly rigorous (to me), but doable by anyone (lots of kids and older people do it). On the way up (and at the top) you get great views of the city and sourrounding mountains. The only problem is that it's pretty popular and can get pretty crowded at times. There is a parking place at the start of the trail, but it can get filled. Becareful during the summer when excess temperatures force several people each year to have to be rescued down. There is no entrance fee.
Just on the east side of Lake Roosevelt, the Sierra Anchas rise several thousand feet towards to Mogollon Rim. The foothills of these mountains offer a beautiful, desert getaway where the roads are rough, but accessible, and you are unlikely to encounter anyone.
You start in a more popular area where State Highway 288 crosses the Salt River over an old, one-lane bridge. There is a launch for people tubing very near here. When the road turns to gravel though, you leave much of the people and noise behind and begin to ascend into the mountains.
State Highway 288 will lead you further up into beautiful country, but there is also a much more desolate area lining the eastern shore of Lake Roosevelt down Forest Road 60.
The winding, often one-lane gravel and dirt road is fine for 2x4, but should probably be done only in a high-clearance vehicle because of low, bumpy wash crossings.
Eventually this road will lead to a trailhead which will take you to Parker Canyon, one of the most beautiful places in Arizona.
Amazed by the valley in the sun I even was more surprised to see the mountains in the distance, out of my hotel-room. Even many Phoenicians don't know that the mountain range which divides the city into northern and southern parts, has a name. To me a still wish to visit those mountains ...
Some great names are North Peak, Mummy Mountain, Shaw Bute and Camelback Mountain. The mountains did not look that high because of the steeply dipping faults on each side. You could mistake by its skyline. Very impressive ...
Squaw Peak mountain, which borders Phoenix, has several great hikes. The Summit trail is 1.2 miles but very steep (elevation gain of 2,600 ft); theres also a Circumference Trail (3.74 mi) around squaw peak and several others in the area.
The trail to the Squaw Peak summit is a pretty tough mile. But, from atop, the city of Phoenix is visible with the Superstitions in the background. Its a pretty striking example of the beauty of the desert surrounding the oasis that is the city.
Nestled in the very center of the valley of the sun is Squaw Peak/Piestewa Peak. This mountain provides a great hike and a beautiful view of Phoenix from the top.
It's not easy climbing the 1.2 mile trail and if you aren't used to the heat yet, do not attempt it. However, if you are in decent shape and want a nice challenge give it a try.
Get there early to get a parking space.
Squaw Peak is a mountain to climb in Phoenix. It has been recently renamed Piestewa Peak after Army Pfc. Lori Piestewa, the Tuba City Hopi Tribe member who was killed when her unit was ambushed by Iraqi forces.
There are many nice hikes to do on the peak including a fairly flat trial around it (not one this one) and a peak trial which is 1.2 miles long and we did it including lunch on the top in about 21/2 hours.
The peak trial is no where near as steep as the peak trial we do on camelback which is the one that you pull yourself up.
I would rate this trial as moderate.
Camelback Mountain is the highest mountain in Phoenix. It is really close to Scotsdale.
The book says it has a 1.2 mile trial to the summit (I think it is slightly further!), about half way it gets very steep, but it does have hand rails to grab hold of on the very steep bits. At the top you will see a great view of the city. We took 3 hrs for the return trial. We took it easy and climbed slowly.
for more Photos of camelback Mountain and South Mountain see my travelogue called the mountains
its a huge park with red rock mountains.. its easy hiking, (they built stairs into the rock) and when you get to the top.. (its not very difficult at all. my grandmother could do it.)
when you get to the top there is a huge cave through the mountain that goes through both sides, (its big enough to fit like 200 people in.. not small at all.)))
its a good place to bring a date, and a picnic lunch, and there is a incredible view of the entire valley and city.
its across the street from the phoenix zoo.
PS. if you go there when it is warm. bring water
If you really feel compelled to ignore my advice and go to Phoenix, hike Camelback mountain in the Scottsdale area and hang out in Tempe near ASU. If you like books, music and movies, THE place to shop for used is Bookmans in Mesa. It's HUGE and has the best selection of used books I've seen outside Powells in Portland, OR. Then get the hell out of dodge.
Climb one of the many mountains in the Phoenix City limits. If those are not challenging enough go to the superstition mountains in the far east Valley (mesa) and take the Peralta Trail to over see Weavers Needle.
It will allow you to get a complete overview of the Valley of the Sun.
Hiking trail up to the peak is pretty crowded, but the trails around the base of the mountain park are nicer.
A nice hike through Pinnacle mountain. Not too high up. Hike the whole distance or just up to a certain point.
We saw a rattle snake on our hike