Late February Phoenix Hikes

Family and friends,

I don’t think any city we’ve ever visited has as many hiking opportunities for people of all fitness levels as Phoenix does. Steven and I were amazed how rarely we ‘had’ to hike the same trails in our four weeks of almost daily hiking in Phoenix. Though we live in Denver, which is considered an outdoors mecca, it doesn’t have nearly the breadth of hiking opportunities that Steven found for us in Phoenix last month. As I mentioned at the end of the post, we hope that the city of Tempe in the south Phoenix area where we’ve already booked a place next year will also have lots of places for us to hike so we won’t simply be ‘lounge lizards’ or pool-side bums all month long!

All the best to you and your loved ones,


After dropping off our son and his family at the Phoenix airport on 2/23, Steven and I drove to hike at nearby Papago Park. There were oodles of trails to choose from but we chose the Double Butte one as it was less challenging than those we’d been hiking recently at other mountain parks.

For some reason, park planners had placed the amphitheater very, very close to a highway which confounded me as car noise was annoyingly loud right there.

We spotted a lot of quail in the park.

A couple of days later on February 25th, we found a fun spot to hike on the Christansen Trail in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve.

This is one of my favorite photos while hiking – perhaps because its vibrant red was in such contrast to the standard brown desert hues.

Every afternoon after a morning of hiking bar none, Steven and I were lounge lizards – we found the combination of hiking and relaxing by the pool to be ideal for us and a very refreshing change from our normal going full blast all day, every day while traveling.

On the 26th of February,  we returned to hike another trail at the Apache Wash Trailhead in the Sonoran Desert Trailhead than we’d hiked with our younger son at the beginning of the month when he’d visited us for his birthday.

Signs at all the parks warned of the dangers of hiking in Phoenix’s oppressive heat that normally last from April through November. February was hot enough for us in Phoenix!

The later in the month we hiked, we were treated to more desert wildflowers making an appearance among the rocky terrain.

A poignant tribute to someone named Cody but no explanation why:

You can follow where we’d just hiked.

More barrel cacti:

As in so many Phoenix parks, we had to be on the alert for cyclists also on the trails.

This must have been a very old saguaro because it takes so long for its arms to grow.

It was difficult to imagine having to be cautious in this area even after heavy rains but it obviously must flood and catch unsuspecting hikers by surprise.

A ‘carpet’ of springtime flowers:

On the 27th, we walked through a tunnel at the North Mountain Visitor Center to hike another area of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve.

The beginning of the hike overlooked a large horse ranch where we could hear and see a gymkhana taking place.

We found ourselves on another part of the same Christiansen Trail we’d hiked a few days earlier as the trail weaved about 11 miles in and around the mountains. This part of the trail was certainly more challenging because of the uneven rocky terrain and the steepness of the hike.

If we were ever to come to Phoenix in March, I’m sure we’d just be stunned by the profusion of wildflowers as opposed to captivated by the few we saw in the latter part of February. 

Zachary: Another take on the word ‘trailblazer’ for you!

Diane: I added a rock in memory of Ron at the top of the cairn.

On February 28th, our last day in Phoenix this year, Steven and I returned to the North Mountain Visitor Center to hike the far more difficult Shaw Buttes Trail. The hike started out nice and flat with great views of buttes or hills in the distance.

One of the washes:

As the trail got closer to the buttes, it merited its moderate rating on the All Trails app, though!

Where we’d hiked and would again to return to the park entrance:

Palo Verde tree:

Steven and I had been absolutely delighted with the array of hiking opportunities primarily in the north Phoenix metropolitan area and could only hope that we’ll also find as many next February when we will be staying in the southern Phoenix suburb of Tempe.

Next post: Home to Denver via Las Vegas, Mexico.

Posted on March 25th, 2022, from the town of Princeville on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. Steven and I are thrilled to escape Denver’s snow and explore Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island for the next three weeks. How extremely lucky we keep reminding ourselves we are to explore so much of the world. May we never forget that when so many others are enduring such hardships.


4 thoughts on “Late February Phoenix Hikes

  1. Lovely to see the wildflowers so bright among the more subtle desert shades! And I think in that heat a morning hike followed by an afternoon by the pool is a great idea 🙂


  2. On the bright side, we were able to see a few wildflowers brightening up the desert floor, but it’d be stupendous to view them a few weeks later when it would be more like a carpet of flowers spread out in the desert. Thanks for reading and commenting, Sarah.


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