South Mountain Hiking Map and Trail Descriptions

Dobbins Point

Caption: The view from Dobbins Lookout

 

It is important to remember that the Phoenix mountain preserves are open, undeveloped desert areas. Please use care when heading out as hikers routinely encounter rocky terrain, rattlesnakes and other potential hazards native to the Sonoran Desert. 

Check out safety tips for a full list of ways to enjoy your outing. The symbols to the left of each trail name represent difficulty ratings. Click on any icon to see full descriptions of the rating categories.

See South Mountain hiking up close in this Emmy Award Winning Video.

*All trails described are ONE WAY in miles
*Designated trails marked with brown trail posts. Please stay on these 70 miles of designated trails. Other trails not marked with posts are unsanctioned, not maintained in any way by the City, not recognized and are unsafe to travel on.
Always practice good trail etiquette when on the designated trails system – let others know you are passing, pass on the left, downhill yields to uphill and everyone yields to horse-riders; dogs on leash and pack out animal waste.

 

Main Entrance Trail Access:

10919 S. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85042. Central Avenue south of Dobbins Road – Central avenue will become the park road.

Moderate - difficult, uneven surface Alta Trail
Driving Directions: 10919 S. Central Ave. Driving south on Central Ave.(south of Dobbins road), at the main gate, drive on main road approximately 1.5 miles to triangle paved parking area (gate closed facing east/west). Hike the road or Bajada trail (south side of gate), 0.5 miles to the start of Alta trail.

The Alta Trail is considered one of the most challenging trails within South Mountain Park, but the steep climb to the ridgeline from either end rewards the hiker with a striking view of the desert landscape below. The Alta Trail begins directly across the road from the parking area, located at the 2.5 mile marker of San Juan Road. The Alta Trail also may be accessed from the west end of San Juan Road (approximately 6.0 mile marker), where the Alta Trail meets the ending of the National Trail.

NOTE: The entrance gate is open to motor vehicles only on the first weekend of the month from 5 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and is closed indefinitely to motorized vehicles at all other times. When the road is closed, motorized vehicles may park only on the paved triangle area outside the gate and enter on foot or bicycle. Off-Road parking is not permitted.
Distance: 4.5 miles
Difficulty: Very difficult - very steep and loose on both ends, not recommended for horses or bikes.
Elevation Change: Approximately 1,100 feet at highest point.

Moderate- Mostly smooth, variable width Bajada Trail
The Bajada Trail begins approximately 0 .50 miles up the Ranger Trail from Five Tables Trailhead (trail post # 5). This trail departs the Ranger Trail and continues west toward San Juan Valley, where the rolling foothills of South Mountain provide a great workout for all trail enthusiasts.
The Bajada Trail intersects with the Max Delta Trail just inside the San Juan gate at about .9 miles, and intersects with the Alta Trail at the parking area at the San Juan Road 2.5 mile marker (additional 0.7 miles). The trail then continues approximately another 1.9 miles where it ends as it connects with the National Trail on the west end of San Juan Road.
NOTE: The entrance gate is open to motor vehicles only on the first weekend of the month from 5 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is closed indefinitely to motorized vehicles at all other times. When the road is closed, motorized vehicles may park only on the paved triangle area outside the gate and enter on foot or bicycle. Off-Road parking is not permitted.
Distance: 3.5 miles
Difficulty: moderate - although there is little elevation change, some sections and wash crossings are steep.
Elevation Change: Approximately 40 feet.

Easy- trail mostly smooth & wideBox Canyon Loop Trail
Access: Park at the Holbert trailhead (see Holbert trail)
Hike southwest on the trail. It will follow the outline of the parking lot and then parallel the Judith Tunnell accessible trail.
Distance: 1.0 mi
Difficulty: easy to moderate; horse use mainly, soft sandy dirt

Easy- trail mostly smooth & wideCrosscut Trail
Distance: 0.6 mi
Access: Drive past ranger station, make second left and park at Equestrian arena area.
Trail will be just west end of arena, hiking west, crossing the road and connecting to Ma-ha-tauk trail.
Difficulty: easy to moderate; horse use mainly, soft sandy dirt.

Easy- trail mostly smooth & wideDerby Loop
Access: connect from Ranger trail start at 5 tables (see ranger trail)
Distance: 0.6 mi
Difficulty: easy to moderate, horse use mainly, soft sandy dirt.

Easy- trail mostly smooth & wideHideout Loop Trail
Distance: 0.5 mi
Access: Drive past ranger station, make second left and park at Equestrian arena area. Trail will be on the east side of the arena area. Loops into the Las Lomitas trail
Difficulty: easy to moderate; horse use mainly, soft sandy dirt.

Moderate - difficult, uneven surface Holbert Trail
Driving directions: 10919 S. Central Ave. Drive south on Central Ave., past Baseline road and Dobbins road. Continue on Central, it curves to the right (west) and becomes the park road. Just past the main entrance gate, take the first left, follow that road down, passing the education center, located at the east end of the Activity Complex and the trailhead will be on your right, parking and restrooms on the left. The road will end just past the trailhead.
This trail offers a steady climb to the upper areas of South Mountain Park. Hike the extension trail that leads to Dobbins Lookout and be rewarded with a magnificent view of the valley below. The Holbert Trail also provides a route to connect with the National Trail just east of the T.V. Towers and west of Buena Vista Lookout.
Distance: 2.5 miles one way
Difficulty: Difficult - fairly steep and long.
Elevation Change: Approximately 1,100 feet.

Easiest - Paved Access trailJudith Tunnell Accessible Trail
This trailhead is located at the South Mountain Environmental Education Center (SMEEC) at 10409 S. Central Ave. (Central Avenue south of Dobbins Road). There are a number of disabled accessible parking spaces at the Center. This is one of the City's newest preserve-based, barrier-free trails, consisting of two, ½-mile loops comprised of stabilized decomposed granite, providing for a smoother passage.  Drinking fountains, benches, covered ramadas are available for periodic rest stops.   In order to maintain this smooth trail, bicycle and equestrian traffic are not permitted.
Distance: 1 mile, broken into two, ½ mile loops
Difficulty: The Interpretive Loop includes interpretive signs along the trail describing the plant and animal life that thrive in the area. This loop generally contains the least degree of difficulty with a moderate 7.5 % maximum grade.
The Challenge Loop consists of a slightly more difficult passage with a maximum grade of 8.5 %.

Moderate- Mostly smooth, variable width Kiwanis Trail
Driving Directions: Kiwanis Trailhead – Just past the Ranger Station, which is ½ mile down road from main gate, make a left turn at the dip in the road (Central Avenue entrance), then proceed straight through the next intersection and follow the road back to a paved parking area. The Kiwanis Trail is one of the more extensively used trails inside South Mountain Park. This trail is suitable for most levels of hikers and can be used as an introduction for those wanting to get acquainted with desert mountain hiking. This trail travels through a rock-studded canyon, which is home to a variety of Sonoran Desert plants and animals, and also reveals two rock wall dams built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s.
Although, not a very long trail, it does offer direct access to the National Trail and Telegraph Pass Trail ... once you reach the roadway at the trail’s end.
Distance: 1.0 mile
Difficulty: Moderate - steep towards the top end.
Elevation Change: Approximately 480 feet.

Easy- trail mostly smooth & wide Los Lomitas Loop
The Los Lomitas trail section is easily accessible from both the east and west ends. From the eastern end, the trail leaves the entrance road just west of Ponderosa Stables near “Scorpion Gulch”. A trail post is visible where it leaves the road and enters the wash. From the western enScottsdale Healthcared, the trail departs from the Ranger Trail at about 0 .25 miles
(trail post # 4) from Five Tables Trailhead.
This trail is a very popular equestrian route that also connects with the Box Canyon, Hideout, and Crosscut Loop Trails. Elevation change is about 100 feet.
Distance: 2.0 miles
Difficulty: Easy to moderate-hiking the sandy washes may be challenging.
Elevation Change: Approximately 240 feet.

Moderate- Mostly smooth, variable widthMax Delta Trail
Driving directions: Go south on Central Avenue past Dobbins; the road curves to the right, then park in the parking area on the north side, across from Scorpion Gulch. The trail starts at the Kiosk sign on the west side of the parking area.
Distance: 2.9 miles
Difficulty: Moderate to hard hiking; some steep rocky sections with short elevation gains and losses.
Elevation change: minimal, approximately 80 feet
Description: the trail will start out easy and flat, then ascend up and traverse the hills behind the ranger station. The trail descends down off the hills are in the flats, then meanders and undulates until meeting up with the Bajada trail at the San Juan gate area.

Moderate - difficult, uneven surface Ranger Trail
Ranger Trailhead – From the Central Avenue entrance, proceed one mile and turn left at the one mile marker. Make next right into the the Five Tables picnic area, then park in the paved split-railed parking area. The trail head is located at the back of Five Tables picnic area alongside an information kiosk.
The Ranger Trail provides a gradual climb through the foothills approaching the park’s roadway. This trail also provides alternative routes through connections with the Derby Loop, Bajada Trail, and Las Lomitas Loop, while traveling upward to the roadway. To reach the National Trail along the ridgeline, continue across the road and climb the steep switchbacks to reach the saddle in the mountain just east of “Goat Hill”.
Distance: 1.7 miles one way
Difficulty: Moderate - steep switchbacks toward the top end.
Elevation Change: Approximately 800 feet.

Pima Canyon Access
 

Pima Canyon is located at 9904 S. 48th Street near Guadalupe Road.
Driving Directions: Going South from Baseline and 48th St, go south on 48th st., then 2 stop signs, then take the round-about going south, with Rustler’s Rooste on your right hand side. Continue on 48th st. passing next stop light of Guadalupe road. Take the first right, then immediate left, drive ½ mile down Pima paved road to trailhead. Parking available on north side of road if lot full. Trails to be accessed: This area provides access to multi-use trails of various length and difficulty for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. A one-mile dirt road leads to the trail head for the National Trail and other trails such as the Mormon Loop, Javelina Trail, and Ridgeline Trail. The Desert Classic Trail and Moderate- Mostly smooth, variable width East and Moderate- Mostly smooth, variable widthWest Loop trails are accessed from the parking lot area. The Pima Canyon area offers a map kiosk and two large shaded ramadas, complete with tables and benches, water fountains, and barbecue grills for visitor convenience. Waterless restroom facilities are also available.
The trailhead parking lot is open from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Pima Canyon is located at 9904 S. 48th Street near Guadalupe Road. This area provides access to multi-use trails of various length and difficulty for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. A one-mile dirt road leads to the trail head for the National Trail and other trails such as the Mormon Loop, Javelina Trail, and Ridgeline Trail. The Desert Classic Trail and East and West Loop trails are accessed from the parking lot area. The Pima Canyon area offers a map kiosk and two large shaded ramadas, complete with tables and benches, water fountains, and barbecue grills for visitor convenience. Waterless restroom facilities are also available. The trailhead parking lot is open from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Moderate- Mostly smooth, variable width Desert Classic Trail
The Desert Classic Trail is particularly popular with mountain bikers (but still used by hikers and equestrian users) for the desert mountain bicycle rider due to its variety of technical aspects such as the semi-rough and rocky terrain, ups and downs, and wash crossings. This trail may be accessed from either of the two primary trailheads located at Pima Canyon South Ramada, and at the Desert Foothills Trailhead that accesses the Telegraph Pass Trail. The trail may also be accessed from the San Gabriel Avenue and the Warpaint Drive access areas.
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult, mainly due to length of trail. The trail is more difficult on the west sections, with the east (Pima Canyon) moderate difficulty. Multiple dry wash crossings, rocky terrain, and many small elevation changes.
Access: Pima Canyon trailhead (see above) and Desert Foothills trailhead, Desert Foothills Parkway (north of Chandler Boulevard) and Seventh Street. It will be on the north side of Desert Foothills Parkway, approximately 1.5 miles west from Chandler Blvd.
Elevation Change: 1380 low, 1620 highest, 300 feet change, many changes throughout
Distance: 9.2 miles one way

Moderate- Mostly smooth, variable width Dirt Road Trail
Access from Pima Canyon area.
Description: starts from the large white gate at end of the parking area. Large wide trail to allow for many users to pass in both directions. Some large rocky sections exist.
Elevation change: 100 feet approx.
Distance: 1.2 miles

Moderate- Mostly smooth, variable widthEast Loop Trail
Access: Pima Canyon area. Hike from north ramada, down west loop trail, up saddle and over, go east 0.2 miles to East loop.
Distance: 1.0 miles
Elevation Change: 60 feet
Description: route goes around eastern most hills of South Mountain, with minimal elevation gain/loss. Some rocky sections with some single track.

Moderate - difficult, uneven surfaceNational Trail
The National Trail is the longest and most diverse trail in South Mountain Park. This trail is popular with hikers, mountain bike riders, and equestrian users. Although there are several locations from which to access the National Trail, Pima Canyon continues to be the primary access point. The National Trail nearly traverses the entire length of South Mountain Park. This trail offers spectacular views from the ridgeline, as well as the interior of the mountain, and will present various levels of difficulty for those willing to complete this challenging and rewarding trail.
NOTE: The San Juan gate access to west end of National trail is open to motor vehicles only on the first weekend of the month from 5 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and is closed indefinitely to motorized vehicles at all other times. When the road is closed, motorized vehicles may park only on the paved triangle area outside the gate and enter on foot or bicycle. Off-Road parking is not permitted.
Distance: 14.5 miles (+1 mile dirt road).
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult, depending on length of hike. Horses are not recommended beyond trail post #15 and west to Buena Vista Lookout.
Elevation Change: Approximately 1,100 feet at highest point. (Where National Trail crosses TV Tower Road near Holbert Trail)

Moderate- Mostly smooth, variable widthPima Wash Trail
Access: Pima Canyon area. Hike from north ramada down west loop trail, then head west along the wash. Easy to moderate hiking.
Distance: 1.6 miles
Elevation Change: 20-30 feet

Difficult- long rocky segments with possible drops & exposureRidgeline Trail
Access: Pima Canyon area, off of Beverly Canyon trail from Dirt road.
Hike 0.6 miles down dirt road, then head north on Beverly canyon trail for 0.2 miles to get to Ridgeline trail.
Steep rocky sections with multiple steep incline and descents
Distance: 1.0 mi
Elevation change: 80 feet

Moderate- Mostly smooth, variable width West Loop Trail
Access: Pima Canyon area. From the north ramada, trail can be accessed on the east side of that ramada.
Distance: 1.0 mi
Elevation change: 60 feet approx.
Difficulty: Easy to moderate. Some rock sections exist.

 

Mormon Trail Parking Trailhead

8610 S. 24th st., Phoenix, AZ

Moderate - difficult, uneven surfaceMormon Trail
Driving Directions: 8610 S. 24th St., Phoenix, AZ. Drive south on 24th st. from Baseline road, 24th st. will curve to the left, then parking lot on the right (south) side of road is the Mormon trail parking trailhead.
The Mormon Trailhead, located at the base of South Mountain near 24th Street and Valley View Avenue (south of Baseline Road), offers a short but challenging hike for those wanting to connect with the National Trail or Mormon Loop.  From this junction, hikers may proceed east on Mormon Loop toward Pima Canyon, or south and then west on the National Trail to access Fat Man’s Pass, Hidden Valley, and the Natural Tunnel.
Distance: 1.2 miles (to Mormon Loop Junction), 1.5 miles to National trail junction
Difficulty:  Moderate to difficult
Elevation Change: Approximately 1,000 feet.

Beverly Canyon Trailhead Access

The Beverly Canyon Trail is located in the Beverly Canyon parking lot at 8800 S. 46th St.,  off of 46th street, just south of Baseline Road.  This trailhead offers 3 designated trails: Beverly Canyon, Javelina, and East boundary trails

Moderate- Mostly smooth, variable width Beverly Canyon Trail
The Beverly Canyon Trail is located in the Beverly Canyon parking lot at 8800 S. 46th St.,  off of 46th street, just south of Baseline Road.  This trailhead offers 3 designated trails: Beverly Canyon, Javelina, and East boundary trails. The parking lot is located off the cul-de-sac at the end of the road. This trail begins from the eastern end of the parking lot near the information kiosk. This trail will have some short rocky and steep areas that cross the Pima Canyon area on the way to meeting the Desert Classic Trail on the south side of South Mountain.
Distance: 1.5 miles
Difficulty:  Moderate
Elevation Change: Approximately 250 feet. 

 Moderate - difficult, uneven surfaceJavelina Canyon Trail
The Javelina Canyon Trail also departs from the Beverly Canyon parking area located at 8800 S. 46th St., just south of Baseline Road. This trail begins from the western end of the parking lot near the information kiosk. The trail makes a gradual climb through moderate rolling hills and will connect with the Ridgeline Trail in Pima Canyon, and will also lead to alternate connections for the Mormon Loop and National Trail.
Distance:  1.7 miles
Difficulty:   moderate
Elevation Change:  Approximately 440 feet.

Moderate - difficult, uneven surfaceEast Boundry Trail
This is a new trail within the past year. The trail posts are up but no trail markings yet. Access to this trail best from Beverly Canyon trail. Hike from the Beverly Canyon trailhead on Beverly Canyon trail. At the first wash crossing, take the trail northeast along the boundary of the preserve. The trail is approximately 1.5 miles, following the brown unmarked trail posts, it will get you to about midway into the East Loop trail, with golf course on the left (east side) visible.
 

Buena Vista Trailhead

Buena Vista Lookout is located approximately 6.5 miles from park entrance main gate. Follow road signs and directions up the Summit Road, to Buena Vista / Hidden Valley Lookout. This paved trailhead offers limited parking spaces and is usually full during the peak seasons.
This trailhead provides direct access to the National Trail at an intermediate location. From this point, traveling east, hikers can reach Fat Man’s Pass in about 1.8 miles. Hiking west on the National Trail, it would be approximately 3.0 miles to reach Telegraph Pass.
The Geronimo and Corona de Loma Trails are also accessible from this trailhead.

Moderate - difficult, uneven surfaceCorona de Loma Trail
This trail begins on the southwestern edge of the Buena Vista Trailhead parking area near National Trail post #21. This trail descends the south side of the mountain through washes and steep switchbacks to reach the Desert Classic Trail. Access to the Corona de Loma can be reached from Desert Classic, closest to the Warpaint drive access trailhead (1.7 miles from Warpaint drive).
Distance: 2.3 miles to Desert Classic
Difficulty: Moderate-Steep switchbacks
Elevation Change: Approximately 880 feet.

Moderate- Mostly smooth, variable width Geronimo Trail
This trail begins on the north edge of the Buena Vista Trailhead approximately .25 miles from the path leading to the memorial bench. This trail descends down the north side of the mountain, skirting the Heard Scout Pueblo before ending near 20th Street and Dobbins Road. This trail is very popular with mountain bicycle riders for the moderate downhill descent.
Distance: 2.5 miles.
Difficulty: Moderate.
Elevation Change: Approximately 1,000 feet. 

Desert Foothills Parkway Trailhead

Desert Foothills trailhead, Desert Foothills Parkway (north of Chandler Boulevard) and Seventh Street. It will be on the north side of Desert Foothills Parkway, approximately 1.5 miles west from Chandler Blvd.
Two trails can be accessed from here: Telegraph Pass trail and Desert Classic trail (see Desert Classic details above).

Moderate - difficult, uneven surfaceTelegraph Pass Trail
Desert Foothills trailhead, Desert Foothills Parkway (north of Chandler Boulevard) and Seventh Street. It will be on the north side of Desert Foothills Parkway, approximately 1.5 miles west from Chandler Blvd. provides access to: Telegraph Pass trail and Desert Classic trail (see Desert Classic details).
Telegraph Pass Trailhead is located at Desert Foothills Parkway (north of Chandler Boulevard) and Seventh Street.
The first ½ mile of this trail is a textured concrete surface for easy walking. The trail then splits off to continue on to Telegraph Pass, or on to The Desert Classic Trail.  The remaining one mile of Telegraph Pass Trail ends at the Summit Road, and offers quick access to the National Trail and the Kiwanis Trail within the park upon reaching the roadway.
The Desert Classic Trail continues on for about 9 miles through the foothills on the south side of South Mountain and terminates at the south ramada area in Pima Canyon.
Distance:  1.5 miles to Telegraph Pass, the saddle in the summit road (approximately 3.5 miles up on road).
Difficulty:  Easy to moderate - steep sections toward the top
Elevation Change:  Approximately 600 feet.
 

Chandler Blvd and 19th Avenue Trailhead

1900 W. Chandler Blvd. NEW parking lot: There is now a deposed granite parking alot along with parking along Chandler Blvd.
Trailhead is at the end of Chandler Blvd. near 19th Ave. in Ahwatukee
Access for: Bursera and Pyramid trails
 

Moderate - difficult, uneven surfaceBursera Trail
Access is at Chandler Blvd/19th Ave. trailhead.
Hike on the dirt path west 0.2 miles to the first trail post, head north following post markings for Bursera trail.
Distance: 3.0 miles
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
Description: Trail starts out easy to moderate, then starts the ascent up a southwest ridge after 0.6 mi. Once up at 1956 feet elevation, a few descents and ascents exist, until a major descent into a major valley and one last major ascent of 0.5 mi to finish 3 miles with the junction of National trail.
Elevation change: 700 feet

Moderate - difficult, uneven surfacePyramid Trail
Access is at Chandler Blvd/19th Ave. trailhead
Hike on dirt path west 0.2 mi to first trail post, head north following post parkings for Bursera, at 0.3 mi you will see junction for Pyramid/Bursera. Take path for Pyramid, heading northeast.
Distance: 3.0 miles
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
Description: Trail starts out in low elevation, an easy moderate path. After 0.9 miles,  it starts the steep ascent, then continues along the ridge to meet up with National trail, ½ mile from Telegraph Pass.
Elevation change: 880 feet
 

19th Avenue (north side) Ma-Ha-Tauk Trailhead

At the end of 19th Ave., south of Dobbins Road
 

Moderate- Mostly smooth, variable widthT-Bone Trail
Acc
ess: this trail is on the northeast side of the Ma-Ha-Tauk trailhead parking area. Description: Follow the trail and posts going east on easy to moderate terrain, then a short ascent up a rocky section near Big Ramada, continuing around the hill platform and along gradually descending to the Max Delta trail junction.
Distance: 1.0 miles
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate; main user group are horse riders; loose sandy areas exist
Elevation change: 160 feet approximately


Moderate - difficult, uneven surfaceMa-ha-tauk Trail
Access: this trail is on the south end of the Ma-Ha-Tauk trailhead parking area, next to the kiosk trail map sign.
Distance: 1.5 miles
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
Description: Trail starts off at 1320 feet elevation on a gradual incline, then starts up at a hard ascent to the cross cut trail junction, at 1.0 mile of 1860 feet elevation. The trail continues along traversing the hill for 0.5 to end at the Max Delta trail.
Elevation change: 540 feet