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Phoenix, Arizona, United States

Piestewa (Squaw) Peak

Brave the crowds on a steady 1 mile climb to the summit of this prominent Phoenix area peak.

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Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 2.0 miles / 3.2 km
Duration: 1-3 hours
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Overview: Many hikers head for the hills in search of solitude, but if you're planning to hike to the summit of Piestewa Peak you'd do better to bring with you your community spirit - rarely have we seen such a busy trail.

Hikers, walkers, sightseers and runners alike flock to this prominent peak like moths to a flame, drawn here in part because of it proximity to the city of Phoenix. Despite the crowds this mountain can still be a lot of fun, offering as it does a short but taxing 1,100 ft climb and many great views along the 1 mile route.

If you feel the need to escape from the throngs, you can always extend your return journey along the much less travelled Circumference Trail which traces a flanking route around the mountain. The trip around the mountain measures around 3.1 miles from the peak trail and back to the trailhead.

Parking is a challenge, as is understanding the parking restrictions that prevail. Parking lots close at 7pm, which isn't helpful for folk who want to watch enjoy a good sunset from the summit - but there may be ways to park much later, which we explain in more detail later in the guide.

Elevation gain:
• Approx. 1,100ft (from 1,550 - 2,608ft)

Tips:
• Although the summit is only a two mile round trip, carrying water is always highly recommended for the Arizona heat.


Points of Interest

Junction
map

Trailhead

The trailhead is located on the left side of E Squaw Peak Rd, just beyond the main entrance.Trails are officially open until 11pm, but - and this is where it gets tricky - the signs in the parking lots say that parking is only allowed until 7pm.

The rangers close the park gate at 7pm which blocks the park entrance but allows cars to exit after hours over tire-spikes.

Rangers tell us that cars parked after 7pm can be ticketed, but this is not enforced because that’s when the rangers’ working day ends. Thus it is common to see folk park their cars way beyond 7pm - for example, people who want to be at the summit to watch the sunset - but they do run some risk of getting a ticket.

The only 100% foolproof way to avoid a ticket is to park in the small lot just outside the park entrance, or to park in the neighboring suburb just 0.3 miles from the trailhead.
Junction
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Junction

The intersection of the 1 mile Piestewa Peak trail (route 300) and the 3.1 mile Circumference Trail. Most folk will want to bear left here and follow the crowds towards the summit.

If your intent is to accomplish both routes today, then we'd recommend a clockwise journey first to the peak, followed by a more gentle descent down and around the mountain.
Junction
map

Junction

Bear right to continue up the mountain and continue your uphill climb - you're just over a third of your way to the summit so far, so keep moving.The good news is that the great views get even better the further up the mountain you progress.

Taking the left fork in a northwesterly direction will take you along the Circumference Trail (route 302) heading around the mountain for 3.1 miles before concluding the journey back at your trailhead.
Mountain
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Piestewa Peak Summit

Congratulations on reaching the Piestewa Peak summit, which at 2,608ft above sea level is the second highest peak in the Phoenix Mountains after Camelback Mountain.

The top of Piestewa is the perfect place to admire 360 degree views of the Valley of the Sun, the chain of mountains which run from north to south, and the spectacular sunset which fall over the distant White Mountains.
Pictures in this guide taken by: Trailspotting

Trailspotting content © Stuart Green 2011 including text, images, videos and route detail.

Piestewa (Squaw) Peak Trail Map


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