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Explore / nature / desert

North Mountain Preserve

North Mountain Trail

2 Cool Lizards travel guide

Located on 7th Street, south of Thunderbird Road. Beautiful and natural, we hiked this area after several winter rains. The surrounding hills were unusually green.

North Mountain Park Phoenix Arizona

The North Mountain Preserve consists of a Visitor's Center, trails and historic sites, including Hohokum petroglyphs (seen on the Shaw Butte trail). Shaw Butte is the tallest mountain, at 2149 feet. North Mountain is 2104 feet. This review covers the North Mountain Trail.

North Mountain view of Phoenix The main part of the trail that leads to the top is paved, and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding hills and city below.

Park in the small lot on the west side of 7th street, just south of the Pointe Hilton, for direct access to the paved trail, or continue south and turn right on Peoria into the larger parking lot. A steep rocky, trail from this lot joins the paved trail that runs from the smaller lot to the north.

We parked in the south lot and climbed the rocky trail to the main, paved trail. The hike up and back took about 30 minutes; we stopped several times for photos. The elevation at the top was 2,088 ft.; the parking lot elevation below was 1,460 ft.

Although the north parking lot is conveniently located just off 7th Street and has direct access to the paved trail, there was not much parking available. Therefore, we parked in the south lot. The problem with that that parking area is that you must hike up the steep rocky area shown below to join the paved trail that leads to the top of the mountain.

Once the paved trail is reached, the trail is very nice. Note, however, that there are no guard rails and the cliffs are steep. Watch little ones. There is also quite a steep incline, so people in wheelchairs might need assistance.

The day was cool, and the hills were unusually green. The views of downtown Phoenix, to the south (photo above), were beautiful.

Visit North Mountain Visitor's Center for more information.

North Mountain Preserve Phoenix park North Mountain Preserve Phoenix park

North Mountain steep cliff drop off North Mountain steep cliff drop off above left:
looking NE

above right:
rocky trail

far left:
cliff drop-off

looking SE


Drive south on 7th street from Thunderbird Road. Stop at the North Mountain Visitor's Center for information, maps and restrooms. Continue south past the Pointe Hilton. Just past the Hilton, watch for a small parking lot on the right (west) side of the road. If the lot is full, continue south and watch for a larger lot on the right. This larger lot contains a restroom and many more parking spaces. The trail from this parking lot will meet up with the paved trail from the first parking lot (further north), but is much rockier and steeper. Map of hiking trails.

accessible travel Accessibility
Although the main part of the trail was paved, and there was one handicap parking space, a gate across the opening to the paved trail and boulders on the sides of the gate blocked passage of wheelchairs. The larger parking to the south contained a very steep, rocky path to the main trail which was not accessible by wheelchair. See the link under resources below for more information on accessible trails. Also, although the trail is paved, it is quite steep.

The Penny Howe Barrier Free Trail is .3 miles long. Located at the NW corner of the Havasupai parking lot in North Mtn. Recreation area. It is on the west side of 7th Street between Hatcher adn Peoria roads. Parking is paved. Later along the trail, the incline increases.

Refer to Accessible Travel for more information.
travel with children Children
The trail offered spectacular views of the city and surrounding hills. The main part of the trail is paved; however there were no railings or other safety barriers. A slip off the side could lead to a deadly fall.

The main entrance to the park leads to restrooms and areas for picnicking.

Visit North Mountain Visitor's Center for maps, the exhibit hall, history and other information.

Refer to Traveling With Children for more information.
travel with pets Pets
Leashed pets are allowed on the trails. For your pet's safety, as well as the safety of wildlife and other visitors, your pet must be leashed (it is a requirement in all parks).

Bring plenty of water and food and follow all safety precautions and preparations for back road travel. For the safety of your pet, NEVER LEAVE YOUR PET UNATTENDED IN A VEHICLE. Temperatures can be extreme in Arizona.

Refer to Traveling With Pets for more information.