View of the flatiron rise with its sheer red cliffsides.

Siphon Draw Trail to the Flatiron in Superstition Wilderness. Photo © Kristina Smith.

When counting to ten or taking a series of deep breaths proves useless against holiday-related stress, Phoenix-area trails can offer a much-needed respite. So instead of ripping your hair out or overdosing on chocolate to cope, consider strapping on those hiking shoes and hitting the dirt on one of these refreshing hikes.

Hike for Solitude

Spur Cross and Elephant Mountain Loop, Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area

For you loners out there, this 6.9-mile loop could be the mental getaway you need that later enables virtuous patience when Auntie arrives for her annual holiday visit without her hearing aids. Yes, holiday socializing will be a breeze after you stock up on some serious alone time on this trail. Located in the Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area north of Cave Creek, few other hikers will be seen on this loop that bumps up against the vast Tonto National Forest and enjoys endless views of towering saguaro and ancient native ruins in the distance.

Find this hike in Moon Take a Hike Phoenix: Chapter 5, North Valley, page 212–215, or:

Read the Spur Cross and Elephant Mountain Loop trail info online.

Killing Time with the Kids Hike

Waterfall Trail, White Tank Mountain Regional Park

When the little ones become visibly apathetic toward holiday cheer, it might be time to steer them away from their endless cache of holiday baked goods for some fresh air. The Waterfall Trail in the White Tank Mountain Regional Park is a parent’s dream come true. The interpretive trail brags plenty of educational plaques for maximum learning potential and features a viewing pavilion of some of the best petroglyphs (ancient sacred rock carvings) in town. As if these weren’t enough, the trail ends at an icy-cold pool of water with a waterfall cascading from the sheer walls of vertical rock. Bring your water shoes for this one.

Find this hike in Moon Take a Hike Phoenix: Chapter 2, West Valley, page 100–102, or:

Read the Waterfall Trail info online.

Shopping Hangover Hike

McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Retail junkies from far and wide flock to Phoenix’s neighboring city Scottsdale for its famous shopping at high-end centers like Scottsdale Fashion Square, Scottsdale Quarter, Promenade and more. After hours of breathing recycled air, suffering under fluorescent lights, and stalking parking spaces, you’re going to need a break. Head to north Scottsdale for the brand spankin’ new mass of trails available in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Take your pick from the Gateway Loop Trail, the Lost Dog Wash Trail, and the Sunrise Trail to de-funk yourself from stale, mall air.

Find this hike in Moon Take a Hike Phoenix: Chapter 5, North Valley, pages 248–257.

Check it off the Bucket-List Hike

Siphon Draw to the Flatiron, Superstition Wilderness

Don’t let your hard-earned Paid Time Off get sucked away with obligatory parties and holiday events. Instead, set aside just one day to do something spectacular, something memorable, something worthy of every Phoenician’s bucket list: Hike to the Flatiron. The 5.8 miles for this trail may seem innocent enough but don’t be fooled. After 2 miles of a slight ascent, things get crazy as you crawl on all fours to finish out almost 3,000 feet of elevation gain to the dramatic perch of rock called the Flatiron. Start early, bring gloves, and get ready for the best hike of your life. Bucket list…CHECK!

Find this hike in Moon Take a Hike Phoenix: Chapter 4, East Valley, page 188–191, or:

Read the Siphon Draw to the Flatiron trail info online.

Romantic Sunset Hike

Mohave Trail 200, Phoenix Mountains Preserve

With rowdy kids on break from school, an overscheduled calendar, and extended relatives demanding your time for forced holiday sentimentality, it’s essential that you steal your one and only sweetheart away for a genuine moment. The Mohave Trail 200 in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve is your ticket for a quick sunset hike to a small outlook allowing for romantic kissy-kissy cute times against the explosion of electric colors that make Phoenix sunsets famous. At just 1.2 mile total, you can whip up the trail to catch the show and make a speedy return to the car before it gets too dark. Don’t forget your headlamps.

Find this hike in Moon Take a Hike Phoenix: Chapter 1, Central Valley, page 65–67, or: