Get big views of downtown Phoenix on this less-used South Mountain hiking trail

South Mountain cuts an impressive profile in the skyline south of downtown Phoenix.

The “mountain” isn’t a singular massif as the name implies, but a conglomerate of three parallel ranges that sit within the park boundaries and dovetail in a way that creates a fascinating environment of canyons, washes and rugged pinnacles. Over 50 miles of trails explore the park’s nooks, alcoves, high points and heritage sites.

Trails range in difficulty from the barrier-free Judith Tunell Trail near the South Mountain Environmental Education Center to the challenging routes that ascend the three ranges for panoramic views of the Valley.

As the park undergoes a major freshening-up in advance of its 100-year anniversary in 2024, there are more reasons than ever to take a hiking trip to this 16,000-acre municipal park and Phoenix point of pride. Improved facilities, more and better trails and upgraded trailheads will undo much of the spoilage caused by nearly a century of use.

Hikers looking for a trail with a moderate level of difficulty and enough elevation gain for outstanding mountaintop vistas will find the Ranger Trail is an excellent choice.

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