Piestewa Peak Summit Hiking Trail
★★★★☆ Difficult / Phoenix Area:
This urban “Stairway to Heaven” is one of the most popular and populous hikes in the Phoenix area. Located smack-dab in the middle of the city, Piestawa Peak Summit Hiking Trail’s convenient location, sweat inducing “stone steps”, and awesome 360-degree views make it a rewarding work out trek for active Phoenicians. The trail is popular by day and also at night – with glimmering lights from hiker’s headlamps bouncing along the slopes most evenings. It has also been know to be a bit of a pick-up spot for fit singles (if that’s your thing). Especially on weekends.
Trailhead: East Squaw Peak Drive • Difficulty: Moderate at base, Difficult toward summit • Distance: 1.2 miles each way (2.4 miles RT) • Approx. Time: 1.5 – 2.5 hours • Elevation Gain: 1,200 feet (100 stories) • Approx. Calories Burned: 360-430 round-trip • Best Time of Year: Nov. – Apr. • Pets: Nope • Kid friendly: Not so much • Facilities: Yes, but no water • Fees: none
The Piestawa Peak Summit Hiking Trail is one of the most urban I’ve encountered in Arizona: with its highly manicured trail, cement border, and stone surface neatly coaxed into irregular “stairs” (replete with handrails in some spots) most of the way up. It starts off at a relatively easy slope, which gets progressively steeper as you climb. There are a number of great resting, or turn around, spots about halfway and three-quarters of the way to the peak – each offering expansive views of the park, the city, Camelback Mountain to the south, and Phoenix’s surrounding ranges.
On your first trip up the Piestewa Peak Summit Hiking Trail, you might be tempted to get cocky thinking “Bo-yeah, I’ve got this in record time” as you arrive at what you think is the summit. The trail, however, will quickly slap you back to reality with a “Sucka’, THAT is the real summit hiding way up there. You are only halfway there. Ha!.” Keep on trekking and you will be rewarded with a rock citadel summit offering expansive 360 views, and natural stone “chairs” on which to plop your tired butt before the journey down.
At 2,608 feet, Piestewa is the third highest peak in Phoenix proper, just 96 feet lower than Camelback’s 2,704 foot elevation.
Piestewa was named Squaw Peak until 2003, but was renamed in tribute to Lori Anne Piestewa, the first Native American woman to die in US Military combat in the Iraq war.
Directions From AZ-51 (in Phoenix) take exit 5/Glendale Avenue and head east (towards Lincoln Drive). Continue 1.7 miles on Glendale Avenue (which becomes Lincoln Drive) to East Squaw Peak Drive. Turn left/north on East Squaw Peak Drive and follow the signs to the Phoenix Mountain Preserve trailhead parking area, approximately 1.5 miles further on.
- Dayhike, Phoenix, Piestewa, Short, Urban, Views
- February 3, 2015