★★★★☆ Difficult / Cave Creek
This short, steep hike ascends a craggy slate trail & pays off with epic north valley views! Tucked behind Cave Creek’s western-style town, the Black Mountain Hiking Trail is one of the valley’s best butt-kicking hikes. This trail gets less crowds than central Phoenix’s Piestewa or Echo Canyon hiking trails. But is an equal match for a sweat-inducing workout with excellent views.
TRAILHEADs: North Schoolhouse road, cave creek • DIFFICULTY: difficult • DISTANCE: 1.25 MILEs (2.5 miles RT) • APPROX. TIME: 2.5-3.5 HOURS • ELEVATION GAIN: 1,165 FEET (83 STORIES) • APPROX. CALORIES BURNED: 425-475 RT • BEST TIME OF YEAR: October-april • PETS: YES (note: trail is steep and rocky) • KID FRIENDLY: no • FACILITIES: None • FEES: none
Any visitor to Cave Creek has noticed the tall mountain framing the southern edge of town. Unbeknownst to most tourists and Harley riders hanging at the local saloons, Black Mountain has one of the valley’s best workout trails. From the trail parking lot, it’s an easy quarter-mile jaunt up the road to reach the trailhead. At the base you can choose to head left on the more scenic trail, or continue straight on the gravel road. Both paths come together a third of the way up the mountain.
Keep on trucking to reach a short reprieve. After three-quarters of a mile, the trail reaches a short saddle with fantastic views over Cave Creek. From here, the path turns moderate and less rocky for a stretch, as it ascends the mountain’s upper slope.
360° views are a choice reward for the climb. To the east and southeast are views of Four Peaks and the McDowells. While Piestewa, Camelback and even the Superstition’s Weavers Needle are visible to the south.
Black Mountain is named for the black hue created by its rocky slate surface.
Directions From the intersection of 101 and Scottsdale Road (in north Scottsdale), head north on Scottsdale Road (which turns into Tom Darlington) for 12 miles. At the T-intersection of Tom Darlington and Cave Creek Road, turn left / west onto Cave Creek, and continue 1.4 miles. At the stop sign, turn left / south onto North Schoolhouse Road. Parking for the trail is a quarter mile further on both sides of Military Road.