Big Butte Loop

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 1 mile
Difficulty: Easy
MTB Skill level:
Elevation: 1294 - 1349 feet
Cellphone: 3-5 bars
Time: 30 mins.
Trailhead: West Buttes
Fee: none
Attractions: Scenic butte




The Big Butte Loop trail is located in the West Buttes area of Papago Park in Phoenix, Arizona. The trail travels around an inside loop that takes it around Big Butte. Enroute the trail has multiple connections with the Double Butte Loop as well as the 5k Fitness and Elliot Ramada loops.


To get to the West Buttes trailhead find your way to 626 North Galvin Parkway, across from the Phoenix Zoo, and follow the signs to the parking area. At present there is drinking water available at the trailhead but no restroom facilities.


For this post we followed the paved access road from the trailhead and got onto the Big Butte Loop across from the Elliot Ramada.


Once on the trail we arbitrarily followed it in the clockwise direction.


While traveling around the west side of Big Butte there are some nice views of Barnes Butte (1,745 feet) which is on the other side of East McDowell Road.


The trail gets just rough enough on the northwest side of Big Butte to warrant an intermediate mountain bike skill level.


As the trail continues around the north side of the butte it passes a small trailhead along East McDowell Road. There is also an amphitheatre that is built on the north facing slope of the butte.


From there the trail dodges a set of stone steps and continues around to the east side of the butte.


A sign along the east side of the butte mentions that it is an active bee area although luckily we didn't encounter any on the day that we were there.


Along the south side of the loop there are views of Little Butte and portions of a few of the other trails.


The fire department was there on this day rescuing a hiker that had climbed up the butte and was unable, or unwilling, to get back down on his own. We found out that it was an all too often occurrence and that on several occasions it was a recovery rather than a rescue.


The Big Butte Loop is a nice trail in the West Papago Park area for a little something different to do or when you need to add an extra mile into your workout. All of the trails in the west buttes area add up to around 10.6 miles which would make a pretty good workout for most people. It was a little more than that for us as we went over a few stretches more than once just getting from trail to trail. We thought that going around the loop in the clockwise direction gave the best views compared to the Double Butte Loop where we were going the other way. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.