Ok, so Camelback Mountain is the premiere tourist hike for most Scottsdale tourists, but for PLENTY of other great, less crowded options to choose from, head towards North Scottsdale.
LOST DOG TRAIL
- 4.2 Miles
- Dogs allowed on leash
- Easy hiking – not much of an elevation gain, no climbing, or bravery required
- Several other trails start from the same trailhead, so you can pick your difficulty
- Not nearly as crowded as most trails
- Directions: search “Anasazi Elementary School” in google maps and then drive through the roundabout all the way to the back. There is a sign for the entrance of Lost Dog Trailhead.
I went in the spring, and caught a BEAUTIFUL sunset!
I will say — if you want to catch sunset pictures — make sure you are close to the entrance of the trail, so you can get out of the park before it closes! The gates close a little after sunset so I was kind of racing to get back to my car! Welp!!
If you want great hiking pictures of yourself — head to the lost dog wash trail lookout at golden hour for great lighting.
When I was there, Scottsdale had been getting an unusual amount of rain — so there was actually quite a bit of green! I wouldn’t expect this in the summer, ha!
PINNACLE PEAK TRAIL
- 3.5 miles
- dogs not allowed
- 1,020 ft elevation gain
- challenging if you go quickly, because of the incline, but not difficult climbing
- moderately trafficked – not a desolate hike, a hike you could probably do by yourself and not feel nervous because there are a lot of people around.
- Best hike to see wildflowers in the area
- Directions: easy to find, should pop up in google maps.
If you want less touristy hikes in general, head to North Scottsdale. It’s more residential, and less “Old-Town” and the scenery is still incredible.
If you’re there in the spring — the wildflowers on Pinnacle Peak are the best I’ve seen in the area!
Most trails in the area had wildflowers at the time (because of the rain) but Pinnacle Peak has THOUSANDS of poppies in full-bloom, along with some pretty purple flowers.
Also, since Pinnacle Peak is on the north side of Scottsdale – you can sometimes even see snow on the mountains out in the distance!
In general — this is my favorite easy hike in Scottsdale, along with Papago park (less of a hike, more just walking).
The combination of big rocks, wildflowers, birds-eye-views of golf courses and nice houses makes for a great way to spend an afternoon!
- One of many hikes in the McDowell Mountain preserve (pick your difficulty)
- 3.2 miles
- dogs allowed on leash
- download the All-Trails app — it can be easy to take the wrong trail / get lost
- 623 ft elevation gain
- relatively easy, no climbing required
- Directions – easy to find, on google maps, there is a large building with signs at the start of the trail
I do this trail frequently just because it’s very close to where we live, but it’s a great easy trail to do for some moderate exercise, and signature sights of the desert: think huge saguaros, vast expanses of open land, silhouettes of mountains in the backdrop.
There’s also a lot of dogs on this trail (which is a plus for me, but to each their own). Like I mentioned before, there are a lot of trails so you can pick your level of difficulty — Tom’s Thumb is a little more difficult, while the Quartz trail is definitely pretty moderate.
There are DOZENS of hikes in North Scottsdale alone — these are just a few!
P.S. — I think I’m starting to get the hang of photography! I started taking pictures because we travel so much — but I’m really enjoying learning the basics!