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The Best Hikes for Kids in Phoenix (and Arizona!)

I honestly believe Arizona is the most beautiful home I could ever ask for.  Surrounded by sunlight and warmth, I’m not sure there are many other places I’d rather raise my wildlings.  We rarely spend our days inside and often find adventures within a walk away.   My husband’s love for backpacking has encouraged hiking since before our girls could walk.  We often take weekends and evenings to step into the desert and explore the gifts nature has left us.  And as it would be selfish to talk of all this beauty and not share our favorite hikes for kids in Phoenix and in Arizona, I’ve made a list of the most kid friendly hikes I can think of.

Best Hikes for Kids in Phoenix

  • North Mountain is a great hike for small children and mamas. One of the paths is even paved (perfect for strollers!)  
  • Dreamy Draw Nature Trail in Piestewa Peak Mountain Preserve is another kid-friendly hike we like to take frequently.  Located near the AZ-51 and Northern Avenue, it’s one of the most centrally located hikes right in the middle of Phoenix.  
  • McDowell Mountains. Gateway loop trail and scenic trail in Scottsdale.  Both of these trails are fairly flat so kids can walk them easily! 
  • Papago Park. Next time you’re thinking about visiting the zoo, opt for a hike in nature instead with the Papago Park Trails that lead to the most beautiful red rocks Phoenix has to offer. Specifically Hole-in-the-Rock Trail, which gets you up close and personal with said rocks and allows for an unforgettable viewing deck of Tempe.

Best Hikes for Kids in Phoenix

  • Hieroglyphics Trail in the Superstition Mountains might be my husband’s favorite trail to take our kids out on.  I haven’t had the pleasure of joining them but usually I come home to happy but exhausted kiddos who are fed and ready for bed.  This one is probably a more advanced hike for littles, but completely doable. 
  • Tonto Natural Spring isn’t in Phoenix, but it’s just a couple hours car ride away.  I’m looking forward to our next getaway weekend to go for a hike here and find the little waterfall pouring at Tonto’s Natural Bridge.  I think it’s so interesting and exciting to find natural waterfalls in the desert.  
  • Saguaro National Park in Tucson has a paved trail for beginners and even features a tram that takes people deeper into the trail and then lets them hike back.  Very family-friendly, and again, with Tucson’s slightly cooler temps, it’s a little more enjoyable to be outside and hike when temperatures rise in Phoenix.
  • Lynx Lake in Prescott is a nice little stroll along a man-made lake.  It’s not far from Phoenix, and offers cooler temps.  The lake, however, isn’t for swimming; it’s strictly recreational boats and fishing, but still it’s a nice change of scenery if you’re looking for that, and with a nearby campsite you can totally make a night of it as well.

More kid-friendly hikes can be found at:

  • Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area | Phoenix
  • Thunderbird Conservation Park | Glendale
  • Jewel of the Creek + Dragonfly Hiking Trail Loop | Cave Creek
  • White Tank Mountains
  • South Mountain
  • Usery Mountain Regional Park | Mesa 
  • Boyce Thompson Arboretum | Superior
  • Boynton Vista Trail | Sedona
  • Kachina Hiking Trail | Flagstaff
  • And don’t forget the many trails to be found near Saguaro Lake, Lake Pleasant and Bartlett Lake!

And just a few reminders about hiking in Arizona…

Bring water.  Bring extra water.  Bring extra water to drink when you drink all your extra water. 

This is not a joke.  The sunshine and the heat are not forgiving for the careless.  Also, I really don’t want to scare anyone off, but it’s important to remember to ALWAYS stay on paths and trails, as the desert can be harsh and aggressive with spikes and pokes from cacti and plants, not to mention snakes and scorpions. 

I’ve never seen a rattle snake on a trail, but I honestly believe that’s in part because we don’t go looking for them.  As for scorpions, we have them in and around our home as we live near a mountain preserve.  However, I’ve never seen one on a trail, though obviously they live there.  We remind our kids to not turn over rocks, as they are the homes to many unloved creatures. 

And finally, please remember to pack out what you bring in.  If you see trash, pick it up.  If you bring in any waste, take it back home with you.  I know it should go without saying, but please, don’t leave waste in these natural places. They’re sacred. 

What is your favorite hike to take with the kids? Did your favorite kid-friendly hike make the list?  

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2 Responses to The Best Hikes for Kids in Phoenix (and Arizona!)

  1. Katie Mehin
    Katie Mehin January 27, 2018 at 10:45 am #

    Saguaro National Park just got added to my Saved Lists for Tucson in Google Maps!

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer January 31, 2018 at 10:20 am #

      Awesome, Tucson is really one of my favorite places!

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