Hike | Piestewa Peak | Phoenix
- Length: 2.4 miles (round trip)
- Trailhead Elevation: 1,420 ft.
- Gain/Loss: +1,190 ft.
- Difficulty: Difficult
- Dog Friendly: No
The Phoenix Mountain Preserve is a beautiful range that offers several hikes. One of the most popular is the Summit #300 hike located on the southwest side of the preserve. This trail is the second most visited trail in the state which sees more than a half a million visitors each year. With that being said, the trail was incredibly clean when I hiked and I give kudos to the employees or whomever keeps the trail as natural as possible. Paved parking, drinking water and restrooms are available and as an added bonus there is no fee for entering the preserve! If you have a dog, however, they are not permitted on this hike. For more information and a printable map click here!
According to the Phoenix Parks and Recreation department the trail to the summit of Piestewa Peak was first constructed by a wrangler employed at the Biltmore Hotel sometime around 1930. I have also heard rumors that it was constructed for mining purposes but I am unsure of it's accuracy.
The trail begins at the parking lot at the first driveway on the left in Phoenix Mountains Park and Recreation Area. After parking in one of the three lots, the trail will ascend virtually the entire 1.2 miles to the summit. I have come to know this hike as the rock staircase because the trail is literally 1.2 miles of rocky steps carved out of the mountain. At around the halfway mark there is a nice shady bench area where many people will stop and enjoy the views and return. It is, in my opinion, a shame to turn around now. The views from the top are really worth the extra push to the top.
Once at the top, many people will veer left thinking they have reached the summit. However, just another 30 feet or so to the right you can climb to the very top of the rocky peak to find the official gold seal which marks the peaks highest point. It is only about 4 inches in diameter so look closely. When you have taken in the ridiculous 360 degree views of the Phoenix Metro area, return the way you came.
- Go early. Go on a weekday if possible. Piestewa Peak is one of the most crowded hiking trails I have ever experienced.
- Don't wear makeup or put gel in your hair. I saw so many girls sweating their makeup off their face and dudes with gel sweating down their forehead. Who wears makeup or needs to do their hair to go for a hike anyways?
- Wear a hat and sunglasses. You are exposed the whole trail.
- Try to knock out this hike and Camelback in one day for added difficulty and different perspectives of the valley.
- Great exercise and great views of Phoenix and Camelback Mountain
- The most popular hike in Arizona other than Bright Angel Trail
- Easy to get to and free