National Trail

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 2.5 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 1436 - 2088 feet
Cellphone: 3-5 bars
Time: 1 hr. 30 mins.
Trailhead: 10600 N. 7th Street
Fee: none
Attractions: Desert mountain hike




View National Trail in a larger map

The National Trail is located in the North Mountain District of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. By making use of the trails and sidewalks through the Maricopa picnic area a loop can be made for a good hike over North Mountain. The route that we take for this post has over 1,120 feet of elevation gain making it a great workout for both hikers and trail runners.


This hike begins at a small parking lot along North 7th Street near Promontory Point just north of the entrance for the Maricopa Picnic Area. Most visitors will park at the picnic area and begin from there. The trail is only open between 5:30 AM and 11:00 PM.


The first part of the hike is up a nice wide paved trail.


For joggers and trail runners looking for a good workout the elevation gain should do the trick.


The paved trail ends near the summit of North Mountain just below all of the microwave towers.


The view to the west looks out over the greater Phoenix area.


Now for the primitive side of the mountain. The trail here is a single track with lots of places you can stub your toe if you aren't careful. This is backcountry hiking at its finest right in the middle of the city.


There are a few places that are steep enough that you might feel like you are falling off the mountain. Areas like this are usually much easier to hike up than down.


Trying to keep good footing with the loose rocks and scree can make the descent seem a little tedious at times.


This is one of the good places to stop for a rest and take in the views of the valley.


At the bottom of the mountain the trail enters the south end of the Maricopa picnic area.


By following the sidewalk back to the north hikers can make their way to the Quechan picnic area and get back onto the 44 Trail to close the loop. There are restrooms at several locations in this area as well as plenty of shaded areas.


We had to take time to snap about a dozen photos of a large common chuckwalla lizard. The males have the orange color around their middle while the females are darker and more solid colored.


After having just made the steep descent down the south side of North Mountain we would think most people that are going to do the complete loop would be better off going in the opposite direction than we did and hike the loop in the clockwise direction. We started early and managed to finish before the temperature got much above 90 F. For those that don't want to mess with the scree at all they can just hike up the paved trail and back down and still get a pretty good workout. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.