Circumference/Freedom Trail

Round Trip Distance: 3.9 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 1434 - 2081 feet
Cellphone: 3-5 bars
Time: 2 hrs. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Hopi or Apache
Fee: none
Attractions: Scenic desert

The Circumference/Freedom Trail is located in the Piestewa Peak/Dreamy Draw section of the Phoenix Mountains Park in Phoenix, Arizona. The trail begins along Squaw Peak Drive and makes a loop around Piestewa Peak. Note that while the trail is open to dogs, mountain bikes and horseback riding the portion of the route that is shared with the Summit trail is only open to hiking. Riders and people with dogs would have to turn back at that point.

The trail begins from the Apache trailhead at the end of Squaw Peak Drive but as it usually goes you park wherever you can find a spot. For this post we began at the Hopi trailhead just to the south. Since the trail forms a loop that passes by each of the trailheads it doesn't make much difference anyway. It appears that the name of the trail is transitioning from the Circumference trail to the Freedom trail. All of the trail signs and markers mention the former while the cities website uses the latter. For those that aren't already familiar with all the interconnecting trails in the area it might be a good idea to print out a map to bring on your hike.

The trail has a rocky surface that makes it suitable for hiking even after a moderate amount of rain.

There are a few spots like this one that require a little bit of scrambling.

After passing the Apache trailhead the route is shared with the Nature trail for about a half mile. At that point the Nature trail branches off on the right. The Freedom trail continues to the left now sharing its route with the 1A - Pearl Charles Memorial trail.

As the trail begins looping to the west it climbs a picturesque little pass on the north flank of Piestewa Peak.

Continuing over the pass brings you around to the area between Piestewa Peak and Dreamy Draw.

Near the base of the west side of the pass the 1A trail departs on the right and heads over to Dreamy Draw.

The Freedom trail turns south and continues around the 'circumference' of Piestewa Peak.

When the trail starts looping to the east it begins climbing toward its junction with the Summit trail. That is the point where riders and people with dogs will have to turn around.

On the Summit trail portion of the hike you encounter the other 95% of the people parked at the various trailheads who all seem to have the same goals in common. That is ascending and descending the ever so popular Summit trail.

Once at the bottom of the Summit trail there is another trail along the side of the ravine that provides a route back to the beginning of the loop. The way it works on a typical busy day is if you want a place to park then arrive early. The gate should be open around 5 am. If there aren't any parking spots then you have to troll around waiting for one to open up. An alternative, that would work especially well for this hike, is to park at the Dreamy Draw trailhead and make use of the 1A trail. However you manage to do it the Freedom trail is a great hike. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.