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Most hikers and trail runners in the West Valley head to Glendale’s Thunderbird Conservation Park when they want to go for a hike without driving far from home.

This makes Thunderbird a very busy place, yet there are many great hikes in same area that allow you to avoid the crowds of Thunderbird. As a local resident of Peoria over the last few years, I’ve nailed down the best hikes in the neighborhood. Here’s the best hiking trails in the Northwest Valley!

Deem Hills


A spring morning at the Deem Hills.

  • Nearest major crossroads: 51st Ave. and Happy Valley Road
  • Trail system total length: 10 miles
  • Terrain/difficulty: Rolling hills / easy to moderate

What it’s all about: The terrain here is a lot like Thunderbird Park, with rolling desert hills and an extensive trails system that allows for longer hikes.  On warm winter days, you’ll see a moderate amount of traffic on the trail, but nothing like massive crowds at Thunderbird.  The trails out here never seem to get very steep, so if you’re looking to cover 4 or 5 miles without a huge hill-climb, this is the place for you!  Another nice perk: once you get over to the north side of the park, you’re no longer facing the city, and it really starts to feel like you’re out in nature.

When I hike out here, I always start at the the Deem Hills Park.  I make a loop out of the Circumference, Palisade, and Ridgeline Trails that usually clocks in at about 5 miles.  Study and the map and make up your own route!  This one isn’t too far north of Thunderbird either, so it’s a nice alternative for folks that live in Glendale or North Phoenix.

How to get to the Trailhead: From the intersection at 51st Ave. and Happy Valley, head north on 51st Ave/Stetson Valley Parkway.  At the four-way stop, turn right onto Deem Hills Parkway.  Deem Hills Park is on the right, and provides trailhead parking for the Deem Hills Trail System.

Deem Hills Trails Map via

East Wing Mountain


Late afternoon just below the summit of East Wing Mountain.

  • Nearest major crossroads: 67th Ave. and Jomax Road
  • Trail system total length: 2.5 miles
  • Terrain/difficulty: Short summit hike / moderate

What it’s all about: This may be my favorite city hike in Peoria!  Located adjacent to the Sonoran Mountain Ranch neighborhood, this is at the far north end of the city, and is never crowded. That’s probably why I like it so much!  The trail itself is a loop, with the far end of the loop being the summit of East Wing Mountain.  This trail does have some steep sections, so inexperienced hikers may find it challenging, but the cardio doesn’t last all that long until your at the top.  Experienced hikers and runners will find it a piece of cake.  Standing 500 feet above the valley floor, it’s similar to the summits of the nearby hills, but you’ll definitely have it all to yourself!  This is a pretty short hike, but it’s a one sweet one.

How to get to the Trailhead:  Drive north on 67th Ave. and keep going. Eventually it turns 67th turns into Pyramid Peak Parkway after you pass Jomax, then switches names again to Sonoran Mountain Ranch Road after another mile.  Don’t let the name changes confuse you, it’s still the same street.  Turn left when you reach Chalfen Blvd, and then make the next right onto Miner Trail.  Make an immediate right into the parking lot for Sonoran Mountain Park.  To get to the actual trail, walk south on Chalfen (toward the mountain) and the trail starts on the left side of the road just before the gate.

East Wing Mountain Trail Map via City of Peoria

West Wing Mountain


Sunset from atop West Wing Mountain.

  • Nearest major crossroads: 83rd Ave. and Jomax Road
  • Trail system total length: 3 miles
  • Terrain/difficulty:  Short summit hike / moderate

What it’s all about:  I’ve definitely hiked this mountain more than any other in Peoria.  Not only is it pretty close to my house, it’s also the fastest way for me to get some steep elevation gain.  If you follow the entire trail, it makes a loop up the eastern ridge of the mountain. However, there is a short steep section that will get you the the summit pretty quick.  I do this if I’m short on time but want get my cardio.  Of course, the entire trail is really nice, and I’d say I like it almost as much as it’s brother East Wing.  Also like East Wing, there are never any crowds on these trails.  This mountain actually has a cluster of three summits, so you can spend some time at each one and decide which one you like best.  One other thing, the top of West Wing is my favorite spot in the West Valley to watch the sunset!

How to get to the Trailhead:  I usually park in the neighborhood to save time, but the official trailhead is at the West Wing Park.  Take 83rd Ave. north past the four-way stop at Jomax.  After passing the traffic light at High Desert Drive, make the next left into West Wing Park.  The map below shows how to navigate through the neighborhood to the mountain.

West Wing Mountain Trail Map via City of Peoria

Sunrise Mountain


Looking east from Sunrise Mountain.

  • Nearest major crossroads: 83rd Ave. and Jomax Road
  • Trail system total length: 4.5 miles
  • Terrain/difficulty:  Rolling hills and steep ridges /  easy to moderate

What it’s all about:  I like hiking Sunrise Mountain when I want a mix of mileage and elevation gain.  By following the trails along the ridge of the mountain all the way out and back, you gain over 1,000 feet of elevation in 4 miles.  Of course, this mountain is very versatile too.  You can shorten it up and just bag the central summit, and get a nice cardio hike in just over 2 miles.  When we take our dogs (who are old and slow), we do about 1 mile round trip around the first little hill.  Yet another great little mountain with very few crowds!  The Peoria hiking trail system comes through again with a winner.

How to get to the Trailhead:  Same as West Wing Mountain!  Take 83rd Ave. north past the four-way stop at Jomax.  After passing the traffic light at High Desert Drive, make the next left into West Wing Park.  The map below shows how to navigate through the park to the mountain.

Sunrise Mountain Trails Map via City of Peoria

Calderwood Butte


A giant saguaro towers above blooming creosote at Calderwood Butte.

  • Nearest major crossroads: 99th Ave. and Jomax Road
  • Trail system total length: 2.5 miles
  • Terrain/difficulty:  Rolling hills and small ridges / easy

What it’s all about:  Calderwood is a small butte with a spider web of trails criss-crossing it, plus a rogue arm of trail that sets off to the south.  I found this hike very pleasant and the little ridges of mountain quite fun to explore.  It’s out on the edge of suburbia where new neighborhoods are being built, so the sound of heavy construction will probably be around for a while.  Like the other preserves provided by the City of Peoria, this is another crowd-buster.  I prefer the other hikes on this list, but Calderwood is definitely worth doing at least once, especially if you live close to it.

How to get to the Trailhead:  Drive north on Lake Pleasant Parkway until you reach Jomax Road, and turn left.  Turn right onto 99th Ave. and drive a couple blocks north.  Just past Redbird Road, the trailhead is on the left.

Calderwood Butte Trail via

Jake Case

Jake is a naturalist, writer, and landscape photographer from Arizona. A geographer by education, he’s worked as a park ranger with the National Park Service, a tour guide at the Grand Canyon South Rim, and a docent at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West. Jake has seriously practiced landscape photography since 2009. You can learn more about Jake on the About page.

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