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Hiking the Lookout Mountain Summit Trail, AZ – Does It Worth It? 

Lookout Mountain Summit Hike 

Hiking Lenght: 1.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 433 feet

Hiking Time: 1 hour

I always enjoy a hike where I don’t have to traverse too far to get to the top of a mountain and see some incredible views. The Lookout Mountain trail in Phoenix is popular precisely because of this reason.  

In just about a mile of hiking, you can get to the top of the Peak of Lookout Moutain and look over the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, Piestewa Peak, North Mountain, and downtown Phoenix. 

I decided to do this hike towards sunset, as I wanted some good pictures of the colors the sun makes when setting over the desert landscape, and it didn’t disappoint.

Here’s some information to help you make the most of your experience when hiking Lookout Moutain, Phoenix. 

Got there at 5 am, walked up in enough time to see the sunrise at 5:19. Beautiful 360 views of the whole city

Hannah Eide, Hiker

Where Is Lookout Mountain Phoenix? 

from phoenix to Lookout Mountain Preserve
From Phoenix to Lookout Mountain Preserve

You’ll find Phoenix’s Lookout Mountain at the Lookout Mountain Preserve.

From Phoenix, take AZ-51 N to the Greenway Road exit (Exit 12). Turn left off of the exit and onto E Greenway Road. Continue onto E Greenway Parkway. After about 1.5 miles, turn left onto N 16th street.

Follow that road to the Lookout Mountain parking area at the base of the Mountain. 

You can also take the Valley Metro Transit system to the preserve. Various bus routes throughout the city can take you to the Visitors Center.

Tickets cost $4.00 daily for adults and $2.00 for seniors and children 6-18. Children 5 and under ride free.  

Do You Need a Permit for Lookout Mountain Trail? 

No. You do not need a permit to park at the Lookout Mountain Preserve or do any of the Lookout Mountain hikes. The Lookout Mountain hours for the gates and parking area are daily from 5 AM to 10:00 PM. 

Lookout Mountain Trailhead 

Once you reach the Lookout Mountain parking area, you can easily access the trailhead for all the Lookout Mountain hiking options. You can access both the summit trail (#150) and the circumference trail (#308) from this area. 

The Lookout Mountain trailhead has a drinking water fountain available to fill up your outdoor water bottle but no restrooms. 

lookout mountain trail map
Lookout Mountain Trail Map – Courtesy of Alltrails.com

How Long Is Lookout Mountain Hike? 

The hike takes about an hour out and back if you just complete the summit trail for a total distance of 1.2 miles. If you hike both the circumference and summit trails for a distance of 2.7 miles, the hike will take about 2 hours. 

More Hikes near Phoenix:

Trail Description 

hiking Lookout Mountain Phoenix
View From the Trail

When researching this trail, make sure you do not confuse it with the Lookout Mountain hike near Seattle. That trail is much longer and more challenging. 

The Lookout Mountain Preserve has two main trails for Lookout Mountain: the circumference trail (a loop), and the summit trail – an out and back trail. Hikers can choose to do either one or both of them. 

Dogs are welcome on both trails, but make sure you have them on a leash.

Hikers may want to refrain from bringing smaller children on this hike due to the rockiness and steepness of the trail. There are no options for camping at the preserve. 

For this hike, I made the summit trail only, which is marked as #150 on the sign at the trailhead.

It’s considered a moderately challenging trail due to the elevation gain of 433 feet in just about a mile of hiking. 

This hike is less crowded than Mount Piestawa or Camelback Mountain, so it is a good option if you’re looking for a bit more solitude. 

hiking the Lookout Mountain trail
Hiking the Lookout Mountain Trail – Courtesy of Kate McCormick

The trail itself did not offer too much in the way of scenery, just an occasional scurrying lizard and a few pieces of desert vegetation. I didn’t mind, however, because I knew that the view at the top would be worth it. 

When I had just about arrived at the top, I had to scramble a bit over some rocks but didn’t find it too challenging. However, hikers should know that it does require using both your hand and feet at the very end. 

When I reached the top, I enjoyed the fantastic 360-degree views of downtown Phoenix and the surrounding area, including skyscrapers and golf courses.

I also saw Piestewa Peak, North Moutain, and the Phoenix Mountain Preserve in the distance.

It was interesting to pick out some of the city landmarks from that high up and spotted the Arizona Cardinal’s stadium in the distance.  

end of hike phoenix preserve summit trail
End of the Trail – Courtesy of Matthew Smalley

As planned, I arrived just before sunset and rested there while I enjoyed the orange and blue colors of the sun lowering in the desert, which was like a natural work of art. 

Soon after, I made my way back down using a flashlight to illuminate the trail back to the parking lot. 

Best Time To Hike It

The Lookout Mountain Hiking Trail and Lookout Mountain Preserve are open year-round. I suggest, however, hiking the trail between November through April when the weather is milder. The heat of the summer months in Phoenix can be unbearably hot.  

Just wear shoes with good grip and you’ll be good. nice view from the top

Jonathan Karius, Pro Hiker

Out Tips and Recommendations 

Here are some tips I noted for visitors who want to hike Lookout Mountain.

  • The trails in Lookout Mountain Preserve are some of the best trails for hiking near Phoenix, AZ. I recommend visiting as a tourist if you only have a short time for hiking, or if you live in the area, bringing any visitors up to experience the views. 
  • I suggest having a good and sturdy pair of hiking boots to complete the summit trail. The rocky areas can be slippery.
  • If you have a set of microspikes for a better grip, you may want to use them for the climb. Here are several spikes for hiking that my team and I recommend if you’re looking to invest in some for your hikes. 
  • Don’t forget to bring your camera. After that steep climb to the top, you will want to take pictures of the beautiful scenery and the city from high above. 

FAQs

Can You Drive Up Lookout Mountain, AZ?

You cannot drive to the summit of Lookout Mountain. However, if you aren’t up for a hike, you can still see some beautiful views from the Lookout Mountain Preserve if you complete some of the less challenging trails there. 

What Is The Elevation of Lookout Mountain In Phoenix?

The elevation of Lookout Mountain is 2,054 ft. During the hike to the summit, you gain an elevation of about 430 feet.