The Piestewa Peak Summit Trail is 2.4 miles with an elevation gain of a little over 1,200 feet. It is a heavily trafficked out and back trail located in Phoenix. Hikers, walkers, runners and sightseers all enjoy this hike because of it convenience in the center of the valley off of SR 51 and for the city views. Over a half a million people hike the trail every year.
Some locals, including myself, still refer to the trail by its original name of “Squaw Peak” before its name changed to “Piestewa Peak”. The name change was in honor of Lori Piestewa, the Arizona native and first Native American woman who died serving her country in 2003. The 2,608 foot elevation of Piestewa is the second highest peak in Phoenix behind Camelback Mountain that is located nearby.
The lower portions of the trail are relatively easy. The upper portions become steeper and much more difficult, I often hear hikers calling the upper portion “nature’s stair-step machine”.
The trailhead is located in the parking lot at the first driveway on the left in the Phoenix Mountains Park Preserve. To reach the trail to Piestewa’s Summit, turn east on Squaw Peak Drive from Lincoln Drive between 22nd and 24th streets. There are paved parking lots, drinking water and restrooms at the trailhead area. Piestewa Peak is open daily from 5:00am to 11:00pm.
If you go on the weekend, make sure you go early to get a parking spot. I had to wait 15 minutes once for a spot and have heard of people waiting longer. There is a smaller parking lot to the right on the drive in right before you enter the preserve. Once in the preserve, there is parking to the left (nearest to the trailhead) and additional parking further up the road on the right.