South Mountain Park Trails In Arizona

Here is everything you need to know about the South Mountain Park Trails:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Arizona
  • Length: 14 miles.
  • Type: hiking
  • Surface: dirt
  • Managed By: City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department
  • Permit Required?: No
  • Website:

South Mountain Park Trails, located in Phoenix, Arizona, hold a rich historical significance that dates back thousands of years. The area has been inhabited by various Native American tribes for centuries, including the Hohokam, who were known for their advanced irrigation systems. Evidence of their presence can still be found in the form of petroglyphs and ancient ruins scattered throughout the park.

In the late 19th century, European settlers began to explore and settle in the area. The trails in South Mountain Park were initially established by these settlers as a means of transportation and communication between the scattered communities. These trails were primarily used by miners, ranchers, and farmers who relied on them to transport goods and livestock.

During the early 20th century, the park’s trails gained further importance as they became part of the National Trail System. The National Trail, also known as the Mormon Battalion Trail, was used by the Mormon pioneers who traveled from Utah to California in the mid-1800s. This historic trail passes through South Mountain Park, leaving behind a legacy of the pioneers’ journey and the challenges they faced along the way.

Today, the South Mountain Park Trails continue to be a popular destination for hikers, mountain bikers, and nature enthusiasts. The park’s trails offer a unique opportunity to explore the area’s rich history while enjoying the stunning desert landscapes. Whether visitors are seeking a glimpse into the ancient Native American cultures or a chance to follow in the footsteps of the early settlers, the South Mountain Park Trails provide a fascinating historical journey through time.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Pima Canyon Trailhead
2. Beverly Canyon Trailhead
3. Mormon Trailhead
4. Holbert Trailhead
5. Kiwanis Trailhead
6. Judith Tunnell Access Point
7. Desert Classic Trailhead
8. Telegraph Pass Trailhead
9. San Juan Lookout Trailhead
10. Buena Vista Lookout Trailhead

Transportation Available

1. Valley Metro Bus – Public bus service providing transportation to and from South Mountain Park Trails.
2. Lyft – Ride-hailing service offering convenient transportation options to South Mountain Park Trails.
3. Uber – On-demand transportation service providing rides to and from South Mountain Park Trails.
4. Yellow Cab – Taxi service available for transportation needs around South Mountain Park Trails.
5. Lime – Electric scooter and bike rental service for quick and eco-friendly transportation to South Mountain Park Trails.
6. Bird – Electric scooter rental service offering convenient transportation options to South Mountain Park Trails.
7. Grid Bike Share – Bike rental service providing an alternative mode of transportation to South Mountain Park Trails.
8. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport – Nearby airport offering flights for those traveling from afar to South Mountain Park Trails.
9. Enterprise Rent-A-Car – Car rental service providing transportation options for visitors to South Mountain Park Trails.
10. Hertz – Car rental service offering convenient transportation options for those visiting South Mountain Park Trails.


The amenities available at the South Mountain Park Trails in Phoenix, Arizona include:

1. Restrooms: There are restroom facilities available at various trailheads within the park.

2. Parking: There are multiple parking lots and designated parking areas throughout the park for visitors to park their vehicles.

3. Camping Sites: South Mountain Park does not offer camping facilities. Overnight camping is not permitted within the park.

4. Picnic Areas: There are several picnic areas equipped with picnic tables and grills where visitors can enjoy outdoor meals and gatherings.

5. Ramadas: South Mountain Park has numerous ramadas (covered picnic areas) available for reservation. These ramadas provide shade and are equipped with picnic tables and grills.

6. Drinking Water: There are water fountains available at some trailheads and picnic areas for visitors to stay hydrated.

7. Interpretive Trails: The park features interpretive trails with informational signs that provide insights into the natural and cultural history of the area.

8. Equestrian Facilities: South Mountain Park has equestrian facilities, including hitching posts and water troughs, for visitors who wish to explore the trails on horseback.

9. Mountain Bike Trails: The park offers designated mountain bike trails for biking enthusiasts.

10. Accessibility: Some trails and facilities within the park are accessible to individuals with disabilities.

11. Visitor Center: The South Mountain Environmental Education Center serves as a visitor center, providing information about the park, its trails, and educational programs.

Please note that amenities may vary depending on the specific trailhead or area within South Mountain Park.

Nearby Services

1. Arizona Grand Resort & Spa – Luxurious resort offering lodging, dining, and spa services near South Mountain Park Trails.
2. Legacy Golf Resort – Golf resort with comfortable accommodations and on-site dining options.
3. Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort – Resort featuring multiple restaurants, pools, and scenic views.
4. Best Western Inn of Tempe – Affordable hotel with comfortable rooms and complimentary breakfast.
5. Phoenix Marriott Tempe at The Buttes – Upscale hotel with stunning mountain views and various dining options.
6. Hilton Phoenix Airport – Conveniently located hotel near the airport, offering comfortable rooms and dining options.
7. DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Phoenix Tempe – Modern hotel with a pool, fitness center, and on-site restaurant.
8. Holiday Inn Express & Suites Phoenix Tempe – Budget-friendly hotel with complimentary breakfast and comfortable rooms.
9. South Mountain Family Dental – Emergency dental services available near South Mountain Park Trails.
10. Banner Estrella Medical Center – Nearby hospital providing emergency medical services.

South Mountain Park Trails Difficulty Notes

The South Mountain Park Trails offer a range of difficulty levels, catering to both novice and experienced hikers. The trails vary in length, elevation gain, and terrain, providing options for all fitness levels. Some trails, like the popular Hidden Valley Trail, present moderate challenges with rocky sections and steep inclines. On the other hand, more advanced hikers can tackle the difficult National Trail, which spans over 14 miles and includes rugged terrain and significant elevation changes. Overall, the South Mountain Park Trails offer a diverse and challenging experience for outdoor enthusiasts of all skill levels.

Features And Attractions

1. Dobbins Lookout: Located at the summit of South Mountain, Dobbins Lookout offers panoramic views of the Phoenix metropolitan area, including downtown Phoenix, Camelback Mountain, and the Estrella Mountains.

2. Holbert Trail: This trail takes you to the summit of South Mountain, passing by petroglyphs and offering stunning views of the city.

3. Hidden Valley: A unique and scenic trail that takes you through a narrow canyon, offering beautiful rock formations and a hidden valley.

4. Mormon Trail: This historic trail was used by Mormon settlers in the late 1800s and offers great views of the city and surrounding mountains.

5. National Trail: The longest trail in South Mountain Park, the National Trail offers breathtaking views of the desert landscape and connects to many other trails in the park.

6. Kiwanis Trail: This trail takes you to the top of Kiwanis Mountain, offering panoramic views of the city and the surrounding desert.

7. Beverly Canyon Trail: A scenic trail that winds through a canyon, offering beautiful views of the desert flora and fauna.

8. Bajada Nature Trail: This short interpretive trail provides information about the desert ecosystem and offers views of the surrounding mountains.

9. Telegraph Pass: A popular trail that leads to the top of Telegraph Pass, offering stunning views of the city and the surrounding desert.

10. Desert Classic Trail: This trail offers a longer hike through the desert landscape, with beautiful views of the mountains and the city.

11. Fat Man’s Pass: A unique rock formation along the National Trail that requires squeezing through a narrow passage, offering a fun and memorable experience.

12. Gila Valley Overlook: Located along the National Trail, this overlook provides panoramic views of the Gila River Valley and the Estrella Mountains.

These are just a few examples of the scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks you can find along the South Mountain Park Trails. There are many more hidden gems waiting to be discovered in this beautiful desert park.

Usage Guidelines

1. All pets must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Clean up after your pet and dispose of waste properly.
3. Bicycles are allowed on designated trails only.
4. Stay on marked trails and do not venture off into restricted areas.
5. No motorized vehicles are allowed on the trails.
6. Camping and fires are prohibited.
7. Respect seasonal restrictions and closures, if any.
8. Do not litter and carry out all trash.
9. No hunting or trapping is allowed.
10. Do not disturb or harm wildlife or plants.
11. No alcohol or illegal substances are allowed.
12. Use caution and be aware of potential hazards on the trails.
13. Follow any additional rules or guidelines posted at trailheads or along the trails.

Seasonal Information

South Mountain Park Trails, located in Phoenix, Arizona, offer a stunning natural escape for outdoor enthusiasts. The best times of the year to visit these trails are during the fall and spring seasons. In the fall, from September to November, the temperatures start to cool down, making it more comfortable for hiking and exploring the park. The foliage also begins to change, creating a beautiful backdrop of vibrant colors. Spring, from March to May, is another ideal time to visit as the desert blooms with wildflowers, and the weather is pleasant before the scorching summer heat sets in.

It is important to note that South Mountain Park Trails may have seasonal closures due to extreme weather conditions. During the summer months, from June to August, the temperatures can soar well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, making it unsafe for outdoor activities. The park may close certain trails or restrict access during this time to ensure the safety of visitors. Additionally, during the monsoon season, typically from July to September, the park may experience flash floods and thunderstorms, leading to temporary closures for visitor safety.

To make the most of your visit to South Mountain Park Trails, it is advisable to check the park’s website or contact the visitor center for up-to-date information on trail closures and conditions. By planning your visit during the best times of the year and staying informed about any seasonal closures, you can fully enjoy the breathtaking beauty and diverse landscapes that South Mountain Park Trails have to offer.


1. Kiwanis Trail: This trail offers a paved surface and is wheelchair accessible, providing a scenic route through the park.
2. Judith Tunell Accessible Trail: A fully accessible trail with a paved surface, designed specifically for individuals with mobility challenges.
3. Beverly Canyon Trail: Although not fully accessible, this trail has some sections that are wheelchair-friendly, offering beautiful views of the park.
4. Holbert Trail: This trail is not wheelchair accessible due to its steep and rugged terrain, but it provides a challenging hiking experience for able-bodied individuals.
5. Mormon Trail: Not wheelchair accessible, this trail features steep sections and uneven terrain, suitable for experienced hikers.
6. National Trail: This trail is not wheelchair accessible, as it includes steep inclines and rocky terrain, recommended for experienced hikers.
7. Hidden Valley Trail: Not wheelchair accessible, this trail involves scrambling over rocks and navigating narrow passages, providing a unique adventure for experienced hikers.
8. Pyramid Trail: This trail is not wheelchair accessible, featuring steep sections and rocky terrain, suitable for experienced hikers seeking a challenging hike.
9. Ranger Trail: Not wheelchair accessible, this trail offers a moderate hiking experience with some steep sections and uneven terrain.
10. Bajada Trail: This trail is not wheelchair accessible, as it includes uneven terrain and some steep sections, suitable for experienced hikers.

Safety Information

1. Extreme heat: High temperatures can pose a risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
2. Flash floods: Sudden heavy rainfall can cause dangerous flash floods in the park.
3. Wildlife encounters: Be cautious of encounters with snakes, scorpions, and other wildlife.
4. Steep and uneven terrain: Trails may have steep sections and uneven surfaces, requiring careful footing.
5. Limited cell phone reception: Some areas of the park may have limited or no cell phone reception.
6. Limited lighting: Trails may not have adequate lighting, so caution is advised during low-light conditions.
7. Mountain biking hazards: Be aware of potential hazards while mountain biking, such as loose gravel or obstacles on the trails.
8. Trail erosion: Some trails may be prone to erosion, which can make them more challenging to navigate.
9. Limited water sources: Carry enough water as there may be limited access to water sources along the trails.
10. Poisonous plants: Be cautious of poisonous plants like cacti and avoid contact with them.

Conservation Notes

South Mountain Park Trails, located in Phoenix, Arizona, are home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, making them an important conservation area. The conservation status of these trails is of utmost significance due to the unique ecosystems they support. The park encompasses approximately 16,000 acres of land, providing habitat for numerous plant and animal species.

The conservation efforts in South Mountain Park Trails primarily focus on preserving the Sonoran Desert ecosystem. This desert is known for its extreme temperatures, limited rainfall, and distinctive plant life, such as saguaro cacti, palo verde trees, and various species of desert wildflowers. These trails serve as a crucial refuge for these desert-adapted plants, which face threats from urban development and invasive species.

In terms of wildlife conservation, South Mountain Park Trails are home to a variety of species, including desert tortoises, Gila monsters, and numerous bird species. Efforts are made to protect these animals and their habitats from disturbances caused by human activities. The park management implements measures to minimize the impact of recreational activities on wildlife, such as enforcing leash laws for dogs and restricting certain areas during breeding seasons to avoid disturbance to nesting birds.

Overall, the conservation status of South Mountain Park Trails is of great importance, as it aims to protect and preserve the unique Sonoran Desert ecosystem and its associated plant and animal species. Through ongoing conservation efforts, the park strives to maintain the delicate balance between recreational use and the preservation of these valuable natural resources.

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