Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Elevation Gain: 1,151 feet
Dog Friendly: NO.
Permit/Pass Required: Nope!
Getting There: See Map
Tips: Wear the correct footwear! I've hiked this trail in Teva hiking sandals, Danner hiking boots, Adidas sneaks and Salomon trail runners - The trail runners worked best. This trail is very much a scramble and the rocks can be loose and slippery. Watch your step and be courteous and aware of the hikers around you. Be patient and take turns where the trail is narrow! Go at sunrise. Start in the dark with a headlamp. I promise you won't regret the loss of a little sleep!
About the Hike: Piestewa Peak (formerly known as Squaw Peak) is the second highest point in the Phoenix Mountains, just shy of Camelback Mountain. Due to it's central location in Phoenix, this one is bound to be a bit crowded - unless you take advantage of a quiet morning before the sun rises like I did this week. At any other time be prepared to circle the parking lot for a few minutes before a spot opens up. I promise you though - it's worth it. Please also be aware - this hike is not for the faint of heart - or the weakest of ankles. Watch your footing from beginning to end to avoid a mishap (of the four times I've hiked this I've seen three).
The beginning of the hike leads you up an old, what I'm assuming was once concrete, trail. It's a bit wider than the rest and will get you quickly warmed up for the rest of the rocky climb. As the trail fades into the mountain you'll be faced with a series of steps carved from the rock of the peak. Railings will help you in the toughest spots and there will be more than one occasion that you assume you've arrived only to find you've encountered yet another false summit. Don't worry - you'll know when you reach the top! The summit to Piestewa is only 1.1 miles and the views are worth every bun-burning foot you gain in elevation. Find a rock to safely post up and stop and enjoy what you've conquered once you arrive.
I must mention the way down. Your legs will be shaky at this point. You will likely be feeling a bit over-confident. The decent is when most the injuries I've witnessed occurred. Also - don't let the trail runners intimidate you - just politely move out of their way. They know they are crazy. And they like it.
Your trip to the summit and back should take you anywhere from 1 to 1.5 hours. Which is why I recommend going before work to set the tone for what will inevitably be a wonderful day.