With beautiful weather in the air and spring break upon us, now is the time for Valley dwellers to get outside. Working physical activity into your day is a no-brainer in the beautiful Phoenix-area spring. Looking for a way to get your heart rate up in the great outdoors? Why not take advantage of the natural feature that makes our part of the world so appealing: mountains! Hiking is an excellent choice for an aerobic activity that torches calories, fills your lungs with fresh air, and even strengthens your bones.
If you’re a parent, you don’t have to leave kids behind when you hit the trail. The Valley boasts several kid-friendly hikes. Here are five options for kids of various ages.
With a name like Silly Mountain, it’s got to be a fun hike for kids. This moderate 2.4 mile loop sits just past Apache Junction, technically a part of the Tonto National Forest. If you go, you’ll have to tell us: just what makes it so silly?
Dozens of trails criss-cross the heights of South Mountain Preserve, the nation’s largest city park. (Fun fact, right?) It’s not hard to find one that’s kid-friendly, such as the Hidden Valley trail. The moderate climb of this hike makes for a fun outing for older kids. If they’re really adventurous, they might make it through the entire 3.5 miles! No matter how far you get, you’ll enjoy the desert landscape and beautiful vistas of the city below.
The Papago Mountain range is one of Phoenix’s most unmistakable landmarks. With holes dotting its sides, this small range looks a bit like hunks of round red Swiss cheese rising up from the ground. Kids can easily hit the trails here, as their smoothness and small elevation gains make them more of a walk than a hike.
The Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch is an excellent place to take kids on a walk through wildlife without the steep inclines of a more traditional hike. Get lost in the miles of stroller-friendly trails that offer attractive desert landscape and bird sightings around several small lakes. You may be amazed at all you can see without ever leaving the heart of the East Valley.
If you’re new to Phoenix, you might find it odd when you hear locals refer to “A” Mountain. Wait, which mountain is that? Hayden Butte has long been referred to with a single letter that stands for Arizona, as it sits just north of Arizona State University (and is adorned with a giant yellow A). This hike may be rather steep, making it more of a challenge for young walkers, but the ascent is quick. The trail logs in at just under a mile from the mountain’s base to its peak. From your vantage point perched on top, stunning views of the Valley stretch in every direction.