Hiking Piestewa Peak is a famously popular Phoenix-area, StairMaster-like workout that can get really crowded. Most people take the short, direct route up Trail 300. For this year’s Arizona Winter Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge, I wanted to explore a different route that would add both mileage and net vertical gain to the hike, and hopefully avoid some of the crowds.
We’ve marked this as a “no dogs” hike but that is partially true. Dogs on leash are allowed up to the point where the trail connects with Trail 300. If you’re okay with skipping the trip to the peak, you could bring Fido along and just make it a nice loop.
Getting to the Dreamy Draw Trailhead
The parking area for Dreamy Draw is easy to find. Follow N Dreamy Draw Drive eastbound. It ends at the parking area. We arrived before sunrise and had plenty of parking, but when we finished our hike the lot had filled up, so go early on weekends. Parking was free (another benefit over the other route up Piestewa). Get detailed directions on Google Maps.
There are bathroom facilities near the parking area, but no water or facilities on the trail.
Hiking from Dreamy Draw to Piestewa Peak
There’s a vast network of trails in this park, including a paved loop for bicycles, horse trails, and my favorite: single track hiking and trail running trails. There’s any number of ways to get from point A to B, so study the map at the trailhead, download the map data to an app like GaiaGPS before you leave home, and as a backup, carry a paper map. The park is not so big that you’ll get lost for days, but it could be a bummer to log several miles in the wrong direction. We have map of our route, the elevation profile (which shows why this route has more net vertical than the shorter route), and a downloadable GPX file further down in this guide.
The trail signage in the park is a mixture of old and new. The newer signs sport elevation profiles, trail data and a QR code that will (if your cell signal is strong) connect you to a webpage with even more information.
After reviewing the trail maps, we started uphill, making our way to Trail 100 and heading out.
There was a smattering of other people on the trails, but nothing like the “conga line” that often forms at the short route up Piestewa. Plus we were on the northwest side of the mountains, meaning we would have early morning shade.
We hopped on to Trail 1A which makes a loop around the peak, then peeled off at the Irregular Link Trail at about one mile in. This trail climbed about half a mile to a saddle with beautiful views of the surrounding area.
From the saddle, the trail descends around the north side of Piestewa Peak, losing about 400 feet of the elevation you’ve already climbed. At about 2.75 miles, the trail begins to climb again.
At 3.25 miles, you connect with the summit trail (and the conga line). The final stretch climbs up steeply, with a well-engineered trail that has a lot of steps.
To the left is a rounded shoulder that many people stop at. It’s close enough to the summit for them. To the right is a scramble to the true summit, where you’ll find a survey benchmark and the true highpoint of Piestewa Peak. The scramble isn’t too technical, but some might find the broad shoulder less intimidating.
From the summit, we headed back the way we came up. At 5.25 miles, we opted to turn left and take a loop back to Dreamy Draw. It meant less climbing, which was fine since the sun was higher in the sky and a stop at Cartel Coffee Lab was on our mind.
In the end, we logged 6.6 miles and explored another way to reach Piestewa Peak.
Piestewa Peak via Dreamy Draw Trail Map & Elevation Profile
Piestewa Peak via Dreamy Draw Tips & Resources
- Parking at Dreamy Draw was free at the time of writing
- Official City of Phoenix Dreamy Draw Trails website
- On this particular route, the only bathroom facility was near the Dreamy Draw parking area.
- There is no water along the trail. Bring at least two liters.
- This trail is exposed. We had shade from the sun when it was low in the sky, but as it rose, there’s no escaping it. Wear sunscreen and sun protection.
Piestewa Peak is part of the Arizona Winter Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge, a great way to challenge yourself physically while helping fundraise for Big City Mountaineers.
Piestewa Peak Weather Forecast
[forecast width=”100%” location=”85020″]
Originally hiked on November 17, 2019 with Richard Oppelaar.