Where to hike safely in the Phoenix area this winter

Phoenix Parks and Recreation joined Arizona’s Family to talk about lesser-known trails.
McDowell Mountain is just one popular hiking spot that should see a spike in visitors
Published: Feb. 3, 2023 at 11:57 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Between the Super Bowl, the WM Phoenix Open and spring training, hundreds of thousands of visitors will soon be in the Valley. The events come at a beautiful time of year that’s perfect for hiking!

Arizona’s Family met with Phoenix Parks and Recreation to talk about lesser-known trails. While Camelback Mountain and Piestewa Peak tend to be popular hikes, they are both challenging and can get crowded.

Claire Miller, the parks supervisor for the natural resources division, suggests checking out the Apache Wash Trailhead that’s located at 1600 E. Sonoran Desert Drive. It’s one of the northernmost trailheads in the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve. “Plenty of parking here. You don’t have the parking battle you might have at some of the more popular trails,” Miller said. She adds that it’s an access point to tons of trails in the preserve and depending on your abilities, there are a variety of difficulty levels to choose from.

“There’s some easy hikes if you have folks that are not up for a hard hike,” Miller said. “There’s opportunities to do shorter loops.” There are also options for longer loops as well if you want to increase your mileage, but preparation is key for hiking, even in the winter months with mild weather. This is the department’s safety flier you can share with out-of-towners.

It can be dangerous to go hiking alone. Take these precautions, even in a group.
It can be dangerous to go hiking alone. Take these precautions, even in a group.(Courtesy of the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation)

“Make sure you have plenty of water,” Miller said. “Hat, the appropriate clothing. Good hiking boots or good shoes you can wear. Let people know where you are going to go and when you are expected to be back.” Knowing your limits is also important, she said, and if you don’t feel well, there is nothing wrong with turning around.

If you want to want to find a trail more in the central Phoenix area, Miller suggests North Mountain and Shaw Butte. Here is where you can find a trail near you.

If you will be at the WM Phoenix Open closer to Scottsdale, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve is home to multiple trailheads.