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Arizona Nature   > Shaw Butte Trail

Arizona Nature: Phoenix

North Mountain Preserve
Shaw Butte trail

Also see: North Mountain Trail     

Also see: Sonoran Desert Parks & trails     

Also see: High Country Parks & trails

Shaw Butte trail North Mountain Preserve is located in Phoenix on 7th Street, just south of Thunderbird Road.

We hiked the Shaw Butte Trail after several winter rains; the surrounding hills and valleys were unusually green. Step out of the city into a natural, pristine desert landscape.

CLICK HERE for map

Park in the parking lot of the North Mountain Visitor Center, located at 12950 N. 7th Street in Phoenix. Stop in at the North Mountain Visitor's Center for maps, restroom and information. See "Directions & Resources" below.

The trail from the Visitor Center to the Shaw Butte trail was relatively flat, with dips through washes. The Shaw Butte trail was partially paved in areas, but very steep. The elevation climb is approximately 300 ft.

We parked at the Visitor Center and took the scenic walk that joins to the Shaw Butte trail. If you prefer to walk less distance, park in the parking lot at the base of the Shaw Butte trail, rather than at the Visitor Center parking lot. This can be approached by turning south from Thunderbird onto Central Avenue. Follow Central Avenue to the parking lot.

North Mtn. Visitor Center

Right: Starting trail
Below: Green from recent rains
North Mtn. Park

North Mtn. Park North Mtn. Park
North Mtn. Park The Phoenix Mountain Preserve provides "islands" for wildlife. These are safe areas where wildlife can escape from surrounding urban developement. A "catchment" has been developed to trap water. The goal is to eliminate the need for wildlife to search for food and water in surrounding neighborhoods. These important wildlife preserves provide food, water, cover and nesting sites.
North Mtn. Park Shaw Butte tree
trail to Shaw Butte trail
©aleah sherrod
Shaw Butte tree
trail to Shaw Butte trail
©aleah sherrod
Shaw Butte trail
steep trail to Shaw Butte
looking back toward base of trail
and turnoff to Visitor Center
Shaw Butte
View from Shaw Butte
Shaw Butte
Petroglyps - Shaw Butte

Special Tips

traveling with children, pets or special needs

accessibility accessibility information   Accessibility The trail from the Visitor Center to the Shaw Butte trail is not fully wheelchair accessible because parts of it run through washes, which contain steep sides. There is still much to be seen from the accessible part of this trail, however. Surrounding hills are beautiful and the educational signs along the trail provide information on the preserve.

Refer to Accessible travel for more information.

Shaw Butte tree
fly on fence post
©aleah sherrod
travel with children  traveling with children
The trail from the Visitor Center to the Shaw Butte trail offers views of surrounding hills. Posted educational signs provide information on the preserve, including its goals and functions. A wide variety of wildlife can viewed along this trail. This part of the trail is relatively flat. Shaw Butte trail offers spectacular views of the city and surrounding hills. The main part of the trail is partially paved; however there are no railings or other safety barriers.

Restrooms are available in the Visitor Center.

Refer to traveling With Children for more information.

Pet travel travel with pets  traveling with 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.

Visit phoenix.gov: hiking with dogs for more information.

Refer to traveling With Pets for more information.

Directions & Resources

Located on 7th Street, south of Thunderbird Road. Drive south on 7th street from Thunderbird Road. Stop at the North Mountain Visitor Center, located at 12950 N. 7th Street in Phoenix for information, maps and restrooms. Several trails lead from this parking lot. We took the trail that led from the Visitor Center to the Shaw Butte trail. We then followed the steep Shaw Butte trail up to Shaw Butte. At the top, watch for a sign that points out the petroglyphs.

phoenix.gov North Mtn Visitor Center Map of hiking trails.