When I used to think of Arizona and the desert, a very flat and hot environment came to mind. Now I knew there were mountains around but I still had this idea in the back of my head. It wasn’t until I arrived in Scottsdale Arizona that I realized just how many peaks and mountains there are in this region. Many people when they visit want to immediately go to Camelback Mountain and for a good reason. But hiking Piestewa Peak right outside Phoenix was one of my favorite hikes in the area without a doubt.
This hike is much shorter than some but straight up for a mile. This makes for a fantastic workout. In this guide, I will go over everything you need to know when hiking Piestewa Peak in Phoenix.
Where is Piestewa Peak Located?
Located very slightly Northeast of downtown Phoenix, the parking lot is only a 15 to 20-minute drive away. It is actually a lot closer than many other hikes in the area. This makes it an easy day trip and something that will only take up part of your day. Hiking Piestewa Peak and even Freedom Trail can be straightforward for some, but the heat can be a factor depending on what time of the year you do it.
How Long Does it Take to Hike Piestewa Peak in Phoenix?
For the average hiker, it will take around 2 hours out & back to finish this hike. This all depends on your fitness level and the weather conditions for that day. The hardest part for most will be the way up. This is due to the seemingly non-stop elevation gain. It took us around 45 to 50 minutes to reach the top. Hiking Piestewa Peak is no joke and it was a very enjoyable workout.
Phoenix to Piestewa Peak in Phoenix
Downtown Phoenix has a lot to offer like plenty of restaurants and big events like watching an MLB game at the Arizona Diamondbacks stadium. If you are staying here then I will give the detailed directions to Piestewa Peak Trailhead below.
Directions to Piestewa Peak in Phoenix
From Phoenix, you will want to start heading east towards AZ-51 North. Once on here you will drive North for another 5 miles until you see the exit for Lincoln Dr.
Right from this exit, you are already almost there. When getting off the exit, you will want to take your 4th left onto Piestewa Peak Dr.
Best Place to Stay in Scottsdale, Arizona
- Fairmount Scottsdale Princess: If you’re looking for a romantic getaway with your loved one, this is the place for you.
- Holiday inn Express: This is your traditional hotel at a good price. Breakfast is included.
- Scottsdale Plaza Resort & Villas: If you want a mixture of decently priced and a resort, then this is the top place.
Best Time of the Year to Visit Scottsdale
The best time to visit Scottsdale and the surrounding areas of Phoenix in Arizona is either in the Spring or Fall months. This is when the temperatures are much cooler. If you were to go in the summer, then you could see temps get as high as 120 degrees.
If you want to enjoy your vacation then I suggest going in October. That has been my favorite month of my time living here.
My Suggested Hiking Gear
Below is a list of some of my favorite hiking/travel gear I bring everywhere. Everything below is something I currently use and never leave my house without.
- KEEN Durand II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots: I finally upgraded my hiking boots in 2022 and these are fantastic. They have top-notch ankle support and are super durable.
- Petzl Tikka Headlamp: A headlamp for hiking is a must if you’re like me and love sunrise hikes. This is a great price for a quality headlamp and also has a good red light to not disturb others in the morning.
- Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks: I originally got these as a present but I had to buy more because these are the most comfortable hiking socks I’ve ever tried on.
- Grayl GeoPress Water Filter Bottle: You will never have to rebuy plastic water bottles. This is the best water filtering device on the market. It is excellent for hikers and travelers alike.
Piestewa Peak Hike Details
- Distance: This hike is around a 2.1-mile out & back trail. This varies slightly depending on if you do the entire hike or not.
- Duration: On average it will take people 2 hours to finish. This depends on your fitness level and the time of the year as well as which trail you take.
- Difficulty: I’d rank this hike as moderate to difficult because of the length, slight elevation gain, and potential heat.
- Incline: The elevation for this hike is around 1,148 feet.
- Hiking Guide: A guide is not needed for this hike and is easily accessible by the public.
If you want to read more about this hike as well as reviews then you can check it out on Alltrails.
My Experience Hiking Piestewa Peak in Phoenix
There’s not much to say about this hike besides it being one of the best ones I’ve done so far in the area. It is a very popular hike, so if you don’t want crowds then my advice is to not show up on a Saturday. With that being said even with all the people, we still had a blast.
It’s a perfect weekend hike if you want something short and sweet.
Piestewa Peak Trailhead Parking
Parking was a slight issue for us but this was in largely due to us coming on a Saturday. November is the High season for this area because of its cool 70-degree weather every day with no rain.
When arriving at the Piestewa Peak trailhead, you will see many sections of parking. You might even see some people parking on the side of the road. We kept driving down until we found a spot towards the end.
Even if you park in the back, all roads lead to the trailhead and it is a quick walk at that.
Piestewa Peak Freedom Trail
If you are in the area and want a slightly easier hike, then I would suggest you take the Piestewa Peak Freedom Trail. This is a 3.6-mile loop hike around Piestewa Peak. There is still some elevation gain but it isn’t as much as the main hike and it is spread over an extra mile and a half.
This area of Phoenix is beautiful and you won’t regret trying this one out.
The 1-mile Ascent
The hike starts on a gradual incline and will have you on a couple of switchbacks. Shortly after you will be starting to go straight up. The trail is extremely well maintained and a lot of the trail is stairs-like.
There are plenty of sections to take a break from if need be. Everywhere we looked it was great views of the different areas of Phoenix.
Hiking Piestewa Peak is going to be challenging. Take it one step at a time and you will get there. Don’t worry about others on the trail. If you feel someone is behind you then kindly step to the side and let them pass. Hikers etiquette is all that they ask.
Arriving at Piestewa Peak
The arrival at Piestewa Peak was kind of abrupt in a way. While we were getting close, it felt like at every corner we were at the top. It felt like the last .1 miles were forever. Sometimes that’s a good thing. It feels like you are really living in the moment as time goes by ever so slowly.
The peak is a decent size but the best viewing area can be difficult to sit on for some. You gotta look for some flat rocks and stick to that spot.
It was crowded up top, to say the least. After hiking Piestewa peak, we were rewarded with spectacular city views of downtown Phoenix. With a good camera, you will be able to get clear photos like you were right next to the buildings.
After about 30 minutes or so, we decided to head back down. The way down can be tough on the knees but you just have to take your time.
Other Activities to do in Scottsdale, AZ
Scottsdale has blown up in tourism over the last handful of years. It is currently ranked as a top destination in the country for bachelorette parties. With that being said, there is still something in the area for everyone. If I’m not hiking, then the hot air balloon flight with champagne would be a top choice of mine. Below are some highly ranked activities in the area of Phoenix and Scottsdale.
Final Thoughts on Hiking Piestewa Peak in Phoenix
Phoenix and the surrounding areas are something to be seen. I love Arizona and everything it has to offer from the wide range of activities. Hiking Piestewa Peak in Phoenix is something I highly suggest anyone do when they visit the area. Either early in their trip or at the end to soak up the last memories before heading back home.
Thank you for reading my guide about hiking Piestewa Peak in Phoenix. I hope these details help you when planning your trip to Phoenix and other areas in Arizona.