Hiking Piestewa Peak and Echo Valley Trail Under the Sun in Phoenix

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A nice thing about a hike near Phoenix in the winter is I don’t have to worry about being cold!  The seventy degree temperatures were a nice break from the single digits in Denver.

Piestewa Peak Hike Near Phoenix

Today I took two hikes near Phoenix.  The first was up Piestewa Peak, previously known as Squaw Peak.  Piestewa was renamed to honor the first Native American woman to die in combat in the US military.  At 2,610 feet, the peak is the second highest point in the Phoenix mountains located just a mile from where I was staying at the Biltmore.

Signs warn the trail is difficult.  I assumed the signs were posted for tourists that over-estimate their ability and forget a water bottle during the summer months.  Being from Denver, I didn’t think the path should be a problem.  Thankfully, “sea level” conditions compared to mile high conditions back home helped me on this hike near Phoenix.  Admittedly, however, gaining 1,208 feet in 1.2 miles isn’t simple.

I took my time climbing up countless stairs to the summit.  While others sounded like they might collapse any minute, as they hurried up the path.  Given its close proximity to the city, many locals use the trail for exercise.  Though the close proximity to Phoenix is a plus, the amount of people enjoying the outdoors was a con!  It didn’t stop me from enjoying the view of the city, checking out the cacti, and spotting a bird pecking at its prey, a grasshopper.  It was a great hike near Phoenix.

After my descent, I enjoyed some time at the Biltmore, a lovely desert oasis that offers chess on the lawn, a fancy pool, tennis, golf and even my own private pool at my bungalow.

Echo Canyon Trail Hike Near Phoenix

For the afternoon, I set out on my next hike near Phoenix at Echo Canyon Trail to the summit of Camelback. Echo Valley Trail is 2.3 miles roundtrip and gains 1,300 feet in elevation.  I figured it couldn’t be any harder than Piestewa Peak, but surprisingly it was even more challenging.

I enjoyed a short stroll up a wide, smooth path to the saddle.  After that, I climbed stairs made of railroad ties that passed by an enormous wall of rock.  Soon I reached a steep climb up a gulley.  I mistakenly followed a macho guy who didn’t think the handrail was necessary, thus I had to set my water bottle down to use both hands to scramble up the slope. Thereafter, I was left to maneuver my way through a boulder field for a mile.

Thirty-six posts marked the way.  Many were only about 30 feet apart in order to mark the weaving trail through the rocks.  While some people run the rocks, I took it slowly as to not twist an ankle or fall on the uneven terrain.  I’m certain there are quite a few injuries and rescues on this trail despite all the warning signs.  Just over a mile to Camelback Peak doesn’t sound like much, but it takes close to an hour to reach the summit, or at least it does with a water bottle in one hand and a camera in the other.  I suggest scrapping the camera and replacing a water bottle with a Camelback.

The trail is a great outdoor workout.  No need for a stairmaster at the gym.  The tough climbs warrant enjoying some nice dinners at all the amazing restaurants in Scottsdale.  I indulged in several tasty meals during my visit!  What a nice summer vacation in the winter.  ETB

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

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