2.10 miles out & back
8 out of 10
2.10 miles out & back
8 out of 10
With over 240 trails in Phoenix, Piestewa Peak hike via the Summit Trail easily ranks as one of our Top 5 trails in the Valley, but it’s one of the more challenging hikes, so there’s a lot you need to know before you go!
As a family of four, we know what it’s like to attempt this hike, without being fully prepared, and struggle our way through. We don’t want the same thing to happen to you! If you’re a visitor and/or you’re planning for the Piestewa Peak hike for the first time, this post includes everything you need to know before you go.
How Tall Is Piestewa Peak?
Piestewa Peak, formerly named Squaw Peak, has the second-highest peak in the proper city of Phoenix. At 2,608 feet high, only Camelback Mountain has a higher peak. Both mountains are in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve and are located just east of Arizona State Highway 51 (Piestewa Peak) and between Lincoln Drive and Northern Avenue.
Piestewa Peak is also one of the best places in the city to take in beautiful sunsets. Our family really enjoyed these views. You’ll also have great views of the Dreamy Draw Recreation Area.
Despite its double black rating, our family decided to climb to Piestewa’s Peak to enjoy one of Phoenix’s best 360-degree views.
How long does it take to climb Piestewa Peak?
From start to finish, this trail took us 2 hours, 2 minutes, and 30 seconds to hike. Due to its stair-step-style terrain, some hikers will require a few moments to stop and catch their breath. Also, since the views are so breathtaking, it’s easy to want to spend as much time at the top as possible.
The great views and easy access from the city also bring a heavier population of fellow hikers. During the cooler months, the Piestewa Peak hike can become very populated and may create an uncomfortable amount of traffic. Having completed this hike in January, there were nearly 40 people on the peak at the same time as us.
How difficult is the Piestewa Peak Hike?
Piestewa Peak has signage at the trailhead that indicates it’s a double-black-diamond “Extremely Difficult” rated trail. If you’re typically searching for a longer hike, you might overlook Piestewa for its lack of distance, but the constant rapid elevation gain, terrain, traffic, (and of course) Arizona’s summer temperatures make it a very difficult hike.
Double-Black-Diamond Extremely Difficult rated trails are trails with “Maximum elevation change over extremely uneven footing” and “Obstacles 12’ or greater; loose rocks, ruts, large drops, and increased exposure to the elements.”
Is The Piestewa Peak Hike harder than Camelback?
Piestewa Peak and Camelback are frequently compared to each other because of their similar peak elevation, similar trail distance, and close proximity to the city. We’ve hiked both of these peaks in the winter and the summer and Camelback is the most difficult, though not dramatically.
The slight distance increase with Camelback is what creates the extra difficulty. The last climb to Camelback’s peak is very tough and steep. Some scrambling is required on Camelback. The dramatic increase in elevation in the summer makes Camelback even tougher. There are several rescue attempts on Camelback every year, including one while we were there.
How long is the Piestewa Peak trail?
The Piestewa Peak hike via the Summit Trail is 2.1 miles in an out-and-back-formation. For such a relatively short hike in the Valley, Piestewa’s Peak offers amazing views of downtown Phoenix, and the cities of Mesa, Chandler, and Scottsdale.
Can kids hike Piestewa Peak?
Our family ages are 36, 33, 12, and 9 as we write this post, so Piestewa is suitable for at least people of that age group (who also write or star in weekly blogs about their most recent hikes).
While our kids do hike more than probably most kids, I think most kids would have the energy and desire to finish this hike. Though our kids are 12 and 9 now, our son was 10 and our daughter was 9 when they completed this hike for the first time. We try to get to Piestewa at least once a year.
It’s worth noting that you don’t have to complete this hike to get gorgeous views of the city. There are a few exit points to get off the direct trail for taking pictures, taking breaks and taking in great views of the Sonoran Desert.
Of course, you should ask your doctor if you have a concern on whether or not you or anyone in your party should attempt the hike.
Are dogs allowed on Piestewa Peak Trail?
Piestewa Peak is probably one of the more informative trails as it relates to signage. At the many trailheads are many descriptive signs. All of the roadside trailheads meet at a formal trailhead including a sign stating dogs are not allowed on this trail. Drones and bikes are also not allowed on the trail.
How do you pronounce Piestewa?
As somewhat of a Phoenix newcomer, we’ve heard Piestewa pronounced in many ways. Previous to writing this post, I’m fairly confident that I pronounced it incorrectly. The correct pronunciation is:
Where do you park for Piestewa Peak?
As you drive into the Phoenix Mountains Park you’ll start to notice cars are parked alongside both sides of the street. The formal trailhead starts just beyond a bridge that you can drive over on the westside of Piestewa Peak Parkway. The closest place to park to the trailhead is in the parking lot closest to the bridge, though you can park with a short walk at any of the stops along the short drive-in.
How Piestewa Peak Got Its Name
The story of how Piestewa Peak received its name is nothing short of amazing. Lori Ann Piestewa was a soldier in the the US Army. She served our country dutifully until March 23, 2003, when the Humvee she was driving was ambushed and attacked. Her story of heroism, told by surviving Army soldier Jessica Lynch, earned her a Purple Heart and Prisoner of War medal. To celebrate the life of Lori Piestewa and to show gratitude, monuments, roads, and events have been renamed all over the country, including Piestewa Peak in the Phoenix Mountains and Piestewa Freeway (a stretch of the highway following Arizona State Highway 51). Remember Lori Piestewa’s story the next time you’re
Though the hike was extremely difficult and very heavily trafficked, it was very enjoyable. The views were very much worthy of the work that you have to put in.
Having hiked this mountain multiple times, it’s important for me to communicate how friendly the hikers on this trail have always been. Hikers of all ages and backgrounds have always supported us with “attaboy’s” and “you-can-do-its”. From the cross country style hiker working on his 7th attempt that day to the beginner hiker just hoping to get halfway for a good view, we’ve always been blessed with meeting fantastic people while out on the trail.
If the Piestewa Peak hike and Camelback hike aren’t for you, you may still enjoy the Phoenix Mountains Park for other shorter hikes. No matter which trail you prefer, we encourage you to Go Hike AZ!