Scenic Trail

McDowell Mountain Regional Park

Phoenix Metro Area, Arizona

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Scenic Trail


  • The loop begins on the Pemberton Trail, the main park loop trail.- Scenic Trail
  • After the first mile of flat hiking, the ascent begins.- Scenic Trail
  • As the trail climbs the hill, the views get better.- Scenic Trail
  • Four Peaks visible to the east about 25 miles away.- Scenic Trail
  • Marvelous views to the west.- Scenic Trail
  • Walking along the ridge top.- Scenic Trail
  • Scenic Trail in McDowell Mountain Park.- Scenic Trail
  • Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa) in bloom.- Scenic Trail
  • Scenic Trail rest stop.- Scenic Trail
  • Bike use is particularly heavy on the Pemberton section of the trail.- Scenic Trail
  • Diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) hanging out by the trail.- Scenic Trail
Overview + Weather
Moderate grade. Gorgeous desert scenery and mountain views.
Hikers need to be aware of fast bikers.
Phoenix Metro Area, AZ
Pets allowed: 
Net Elevation Gain: 
272.00 ft (82.91 m)
Parking Pass: 
State Park Fee
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Biking, Horseback
Total Distance: 
4.50 mi (7.24 km)
Trail type: 
Trailhead Elevation: 
1,700.00 ft (518.16 m)
Current Local Weather:
Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

One of the most popular trails in McDowell Mountain Regional Park, the Scenic Trail is a wonderful loop that offers great desert scenery and varied terrain within the ability of most hikers.

The Scenic Trail begins at the Pemberton Trailhead parking, not far from the campground and visitor center, and the last section of the loop is actually on the Pemberton Trail. Heading up the Pemberton Trail from the north side of the parking area, the Scenic Trail branches off to the right in just a couple hundred yards or so. The first part of the trail is flat and crosses some beautiful Colorado desert landscape as it approaches the Lousley Hills to the east. Shortly after the junction with the Cinch Trail, the Scenic Trail heads up into the hills, offering increasingly nice views to the south. Eventually the trail reaches the ridge and follows this north for a few miles. The views from the ridge are awesome in all directions, with massive saguaro cacti dotting the landscape. The trail winds around the end of the hills and drops down to meet the Pemberton Trail down below for the last leg back.

This trail is popular with hikers, equestrians and mountain bikers alike. It is important to keep aware of others using the trail to avoid accidents. As always in the desert, avoid brushing up against cacti and watch out for rattlesnakes!

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Nearby Camping + Lodging

(7 within a 30 mile radius)

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(31 within a 30 mile radius)

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