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5 Awesome Hikes in Scottsdale

Updated: Feb 15, 2023

Ah the majestic mountains that surround the Valley! I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to get my shoes a little dirty and recharge my soul with the beauty of this beautiful terrain. As your host of Zen Den Scottsdale, one of my favorite things is to share my love of Scottsdale with my guests and introduce them to all the wonderful aspects of AZ living!

Though there are over 320 miles of hiking trails in the Scottsdale area, I chose 5 of my favorite hikes to explore- with differing levels that the beginning hiker and the most advanced can appreciate. Sometimes I find myself wanting to take a more a contemplative walk, a moving meditation if you will, and not choose elevation and difficulty. Other times I want to kick things up a notch and get my heart rate going and get a higher viewing perspective.

So get your hiking shoes on, and I do recommend hiking shoes as opposed to athletic shoes for the sole (pun intended!) purpose of gripping the earth or the rocks, and not slipping along the way. Always remember to bring LOTS of water and to get an early start when the temperatures are on the rise.

For those who may have found this article and haven't planned your stay in Scottsdale, we hope you book a stay with us at Zen Den Scottsdale. We chose this place because of it's amazing location to fine dining, hiking, biking, and entertainment all around Scottsdale. We also decked this luxury vacation rental out so that it feels like a luxurious boutique hotel but with the warmth of being hosted by your friends and family! (and once you stay with us you will be part of our Zen Den family!)

Now for the hikes....

1- Marcus Landslide Address: 23015 N 128th St, Scottsdale, AZ 85255 (Located at Tom’s Thumb Trailhead) When you arrive at the trailhead, turn left before you reach the building.

Miles: 4.1

Elevation Gain: 518 feet

Level of Difficulty: easy-ish

*Why I like it: Though there are little elevation gains, the views are extensive- Four Peaks, Weaver’s Needle, and the Superstitions are visible on a clear day, as are the interesting and extensive rock formations, many with interpretive signs. I also love the nice, wide trail- perfect when taking a pet on a leash or walking side by side with a friend.

2- Tom’s Thumb: 23015 N 128th St, Scottsdale, AZ 85255

Miles: 4.0

Elevation Gain: 1,236 feet

Level of Difficulty: hard

*Why I like it: I am going to go out on a limb, or a peak I should say, and announce that this is my favorite hike on this list. Not only is it a gradual yet steep incline, but I also find the footing a bit easier to manage. More trail, less rock, yet sometimes it can be a little sandy and slippery. There are many places along the way to look back and snap pictures of the McDowells and urban Phoenix, and the elevation enhances these views. We like to touch Tom’s Thumb, a 150-foot tall granite rock formation, at the very top for good luck!

3- Gateway Trail: Address 18333 N. Thompson Peak Rd, Scottsdale, AZ, 85255

Miles: 4.2

Elevation Gain: 715 feet

Level of Difficulty: moderate

*Why I like it: I really enjoy the facility and the ease of parking here. There is also a nature walk with interactive signs making it ideal to take young children exploring the dessert or individuals who find hiking out of their realm of capabilities, but wanting to appreciate a nice, informative nature walk. Though Gateway trail is a longer loop, it is not very steep, so I enjoy this hike when I want to be out in nature, appreciating the cacti and nearby peaks, while not necessarily pushing the limits on my ticker. Though it isn’t very steep, it is rather rocky so watch your footing.

4- Sunrise Trail: Address: 12101 N 145th Way, Scottsdale, AZ 85259

Miles: 3.6

Elevation Gain: 1,112 feet

Level of Difficulty: moderate to hard

*Why I like it: This is one of my favorite hikes of all time. It seems less trafficked then many of the other hikes I have included, and it gives me a feeling of peacefulness when hiking this beautiful trail, despite the cardiovascular efforts of its gradual incline. If you time it correctly, you may even see the big fountain of Fountain Hills shooting up (every hour on the hour). I also enjoy the switchbacks and its gradual incline that allows me to view so many beautiful peaks including, The Superstitions, South Mountain, Camelback and the McDowells, as well. The last quarter of the hike does get a bit more strenuous and there are some loose, gravelly rocks, so be cautious.

5- Pinnacle Peak Trail: Address: 26802 N 102nd Way, Scottsdale, AZ 85262

  • Miles: 3.5

  • Elevation Gain: 1,020 feet

  • Level of Difficulty: moderate

Why I like it: This is a beautiful hike with a slightly steep incline at the beginning and interesting, boulder like rock formations along the way. Hikers on the trail always seem so happy and friendly, and I always seem to run into someone I know on this trail; this is a very popular, and very well-loved hike! About halfway into the trek, there is a panoramic viewpoint called Grand View. This is a great place to snap photos with the McDowells and the Valley in the backdrop. Further up is another viewpoint called Owl’s Rest. This is a good stopping point when hiking with young children or with less seasoned hikers, without challenging them too much while still enjoying some great views, including Camelback at a distance. Since the out and back trail is shaped like an ‘M’, If you continue on, you will go down and then climb back up another part of the mountain. The trail gets more strenuous, and some (aka me!) call it a ‘Stair Climber’ towards the very end!

Happy trails and enjoy exploring all the natural beauty that Scottsdale has to offer!

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