The Cave Creek area is blessed with many great wilderness preserves nearby, including some located right inside the incorporated cities within Maricopa County. All feature hiking trails to suit all fitness levels - from relatively flat strolls for casual hikes to trails guaranteed to give even the strongest a good workout.
Visitors from out of town, and even some locals, frequently ask our store staff about a few good places to go hiking, so we've put together our top 10 suggestions for good hikes that are all a short drive from central Phoenix and also have a Phoenix Trail Map section that will include these hikes and others. Some of our favorites are the trails you can hike in and around the Cave Creek Regional Park area:
37900 N. Cave Creek Parkway
Cave Creek, AZ 85331
Ph: 623-465-0431 Fax: 623-465-9284
Sun-Thu: 6 am - 8 pm
Fri-Sat: 6 am - 10 pm
- 365 days a year
Nature Center Hours
Mon - Sun: 8 am - 3 pm
Admin. Office Hours
Mon - Fri: 8 am - 3 pm
From central Phoenix, take I-17 north to Carefree Hwy (SR 74). Exit Carefree Hwy. and travel east to 32nd St. (7 miles). Turn north on 32nd St. to the Cave Creek Regional Park entrance.
Located north of Phoenix, this 2,922-acre park sits in the upper Sonoran Desert. Ranging in elevation from 2,000 feet to 3,060, this desert oasis provides any hiker and equestrian majestic views. The Go John Trail loops around a mountain to provide the illusion of being miles away from civilization. In the 1870s, fever stricken gold seekers staked their dreams on the jasper-studded hills. Guided trails to these sites give visitors an opportunity to travel back in time. Cave Creek Regional Park offers over 11 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. Park trails range in length from 0.2 miles to 5.8 miles and range in difficulty from easy to difficult.
If you are looking for an easy, relatively short hike the Slate Trail is recommended. If you are looking for a longer, more difficult hike, try the 5.8-mile Go John Trail. The Park includes these trails:
Trail Name Miles KM Use
Clay Mine 0.8 mi 1.2 km Shared use - hike/bike only west of Clay Mine
Flume 1.6 mi 2.6 km Shared use
Go John 5.8 mi 9.3 km Shared use - loop
Jasper 0.2 mi 0.3 km Shared use
Overton 1.9 mi 3.0 km Shared use
Quartz 1.4 mi 2.3 km Shared use
Slate 1.6 mi 2.6 km Shared use
Cave Creek Regional Park offers a campground with 38 individual sites and a group camping area. Each site has a large parking area to accommodate up to a 45' RV and is a "Developed Site," with water and electrical hook-ups, dump station, a picnic table, a barbecue grill, and fire ring. Cave Creek Regional Park provides immaculate restrooms with flush toilets and hot water showers. All sites in the campground may be reserved online at https://www.maricopacountyparks.org/.
Large groups can reserve the Cave Creek Regional Park Group Campground. The Group Campground is a 2-acre parking area that offers a restroom with flush toilets and hot showers, ramadas with picnic tables, a fire ring and an activity area. The Group Campground can be reserved for a fee and requires a commitment of six units to utilize that facility for dry camping.
Here's what some online reviewers had to say:
Just spectacular,Majestic, beautiful and a very welcome break from the city. Just 35-45 minutes from Phoenix, 10 minutes into the hike and you are in another world, air is cleaner than Camelback, and literally within minutes, even on its busier days, you can very quickly be alone on the many easy to marginally challenging trails, easy 2-4k, up to 7 k. easy for even the novice, great nature center, and very clean.
Do consider the extreme weather potential before heading out on a hike here around Cave Creek Regional Park or anywhere in the Cave Creek area, especially if you are a first-time visitor. The best time to hike is October through April when temperatures are moderate or even cool in places. Between May and September though, it can be brutally hot, so head out at sunrise before things really get cooking!
Either way, make sure you're properly outfitted with the right shoes, hiking socks, snacks, day packs and other hiking gear before your next outdoor adventure. Just stop by LowerGear - your local backpacking supplier in Tempe, easily reached near the intersection of 101 and 202 east of the ASU campus.
Cave Creek Regional Park is just one of our top 10 favorite hiking spots in the Cave Creek area. We have trail and hiking information on the other 9 at the links below (with their general location vicinity). Click on the listing for more information on that hiking area.
Lost Dog Wash (north-east Scottsdale)
McDowell Mountain Regional Park (north-east Scottsdale)
Papago Park (east Phoenix / southwest Scottsdale)
Camelback Mountain (north-central Phoenix)
Piestawa Peak (north-central Phoenix)
Dreamy Draw (north-central Phoenix)
Estrella Mountains (west Phoenix / Goodyear)
South Mountain (south Phoenix / Ahwatukee)
Usery Mountain (east Mesa)