Scottsdale’s Sonoran Desert setting hosts some of Arizona’s most beautiful and picturesque hiking areas. As the landscape comes alive in that golden morning light, the views along those area trails become so spectacular, they’ll make cameras swoon from excitement. Okay, so that might be slightly hyperbolic, but you get what we mean. Morning hikes in Scottsdale’s hiking areas are about as good as it gets.
Before we jump into these exquisite hiking areas, we want to remind you that Scottsdale has a reputation of featuring hot weather nearly year-round. When out hiking in the desert, always wear proper sun protection and pack plenty of water and snacks. For a complete list of what to bring for your hike, check out this hiking guide from Visit Arizona.
With that out of the way, here are our 4 favorite Scottsdale hiking areas to catch great views and escape that hot desert sun!
McDowell Sonoran Preserve
With over 225 miles of trails to explore across 30,580 acres of Sonoran Desert, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve hosts some of the best hikes in Arizona and is the ultimate nature lover’s playground. Open every day from sunrise to sunset, the preserve offers visitors the chance to experience true Sonoran Desert wilderness. Deep canyons and high mountain peaks host an incredible array of desert plant and animal life. In spring, you can discover plenty of trails lit up with vibrant wildflowers that bring wonderful colors to the desert landscape.
First-time visitors to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve will love these trails:
- Granite Mountain Loop Trail (Easy/Medium)
- Gateway Loop Trail (Medium)
- Tom’s Thumb Trail (Medium/Hard)
- Check out other great McDowell Sonoran Preserve Trails
Pinnacle Peak Park
Although Pinnacle Peak Park only features a single trail within its 150-acre area, the trail is pretty gosh darn nice. Creatively labeled as the Pinnacle Peak Trail, this hiking area is located right on the northern outskirts of town. The titular trail is one of the more popular in Scottsdale for hikers and trail runners, so weekday mornings are certainly the best times to go if you want to avoid those larger crowds. Plus, mornings along this meandering out-and-back trail are nothing short of spectacular. You’ll find the early rise justified pretty much five steps out of the parking lot.
Usery Mountain Regional Park
With 29 trails of varying lengths and difficulties to explore, Usery Mountain Regional Park is another great hiking area to check out near Scottsdale. Known for its wide scenic vistas, Usery Mountain Regional Park is ideal for hikers looking to have their jaws dropped on a morning hike. Although there is a $7 vehicle entrance fee to enter the park, it’s well-worth the small cost to experience some of Arizona’s best views.
Check out these popular trails at Usery Mountain Regional Park during your visit:
- Merkle Trail (Easy)
- Wind Cave Trail (Medium)
- Pass Mountain Trail (Medium/Hard)
- Check out more great trails in Usery Mountain Regional Park
Lost Dutchman State Park
Named after Jacob Waltz’s (AKA “The Dutchman”) legendary lost gold mine, the Lost Dutchman State Park has much more to offer than just fabled riches. The state park is located smack-dab in the middle of Arizona’s Superstition Mountains, and it serves up scenery that more than lives up to legends. Morning light brings a rosy glow to the landscape that hikers and their cameras will be drawn to like a sweet siren song.
Don’t believe that description? See for yourself at these scenic Lost Dutchman trails:
- Jacob’s Crosscut Trail (Easy)
- Treasure Loop Trail (Easy/Medium)
- Siphon Draw Trail (Medium/Hard)
- Check out more Lost Dutchman State Park Trails
And those are our top picks for the best Scottsdale hiking areas to check out for morning hikes. Each hiking area offers trails with distinct experiences within Scottsdale’s signature desert landscape. You can bet that each spot will leave your breath taken, and your camera fully stocked with gorgeous golden hour pictures.
Once you finish your hike, you’ll want to retreat back to a cool, cozy, and comfortable home base. Luckily, you’re already on a website that provides accommodations which fit that description. Book one of GoodNight Stay’s Scottsdale rental homes to complete your perfect Arizona vacation!