By Lauren Wong
This story was original posted on Escape With Vagary.
Arizona cities give you the best of both worlds, you have the urban lifestyle with dozens of restaurants, shops, and nightlife right at your fingertips, but you also have some beautiful nature getaways just a short drive away. That’s what I love about moving here, I love the populated city life, but I also needed new places to explore. Growing up in Chicago did not give me that.
Here’s a list of some of my favorite hikes in Scottsdale and some that are on my list to check out.
The Arizona Canal
Located in Maricopa county, the Arizona Canal is 69.7 miles long. The trail end points are the Southern Canal Path (Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community) and Skunk Creek Trail (Peoria). What I love about walking along this is you can really take it to get anywhere. I biked through Old Town, and ended up stopping for a drink and some appetizers at OSHO Arcadia.
The trail is usually pretty populated, you’ve got walkers, bikers, rollerblades, all whizzing past you so make sure you stay alert and on the right side of the path. I wouldn’t recommend blasting music in your ear phones because you never know who could be coming up to pass you on your left. Plus that gives you a chance to completely disconnect from your phone and enjoy the sounds of nature, something many of us don’t take time to do.
Another thing I love about the Canal is that if you’re paying attention you’ll notice a bunch of little paths stem off of it. I followed a little dirt path to 6207 N. Cattle Track where I stumbled upon a bunch of cute little shops. Nothing was open at the time I went but there were so many charming, little outdoor seating areas and shops that I want to go back and explore!
Bajada Nature Trail
Known for being one of Scottsdale’s easiest hikes, this is a perfect trail for families and young children. The loop is only a half mile and you’ll be surrounded by the extensive McDowell Mountains. There’s hardly any elevation gain and it has a hard smooth surface to walk on that makes it easy to push a stroller or wheelchair. It’s a beautiful, easy hike that’s perfect for anyone!
Echo Canyon Trailhead
This is a very difficult one! Be sure to bring plenty of water and make sure both your hands are empty because you’ll be on all fours climbing up to the peak. I made the mistake of carting around my huge camera bag. I mean, I got some pretty pictures, but I will never attempt to lug that with me again. After my first experience I suggest bringing just a camelbak backpack and some snacks. That way your hands are completely free.
This hike is only 1.23 miles long, but it is straight up. It starts approximately 1,280 feet, from 1,424 feet above sea level to 2,704 feet. Since this is such a difficult hike, they recommend for inexperienced hikers to call Jason (612) 599-3616 and schedule a guided hike. If you visit their website you can get more, in depth, information on what to expect on the hike.
Gateway Loop Trail
Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve
This is the perfect place if you’re looking for a leisurely hike. The trail is 4.5 miles and only gains 655 feet of elevation. You’ll get to enjoy some incredible views of the desert as you make your way around the loop.
This out and back trail is 4.3 miles total and offers some stunning views once you’re at the top. There is a 1,184 feet elevation gain, so it will definitely get your heart pumping, but it’s nothing like the workout you’ll get from Camelback. The hike is rated as moderate. The trail is located near Fountain Hills and is a perfect hike if you’re looking for a challenge that won’t have you feeling completely dead by the end of it. There’s some rocks to sit at on the peak of the mountain so it’s a perfect resting spot to take in all the beauty around you before heading back down.