If you’re a hiking aficionado living in DC Ranch, there’s great news – there are plenty of hikes for all skill levels close to our beautiful community. However, this post is dedicated to hard hikes. We’re talking the ones you can’t even think about without wearing a hydration system. The ones you wouldn’t dream of bringing your dog on. The ones that leave you breathless and wondering if you can make it back down.
You ready? Check out these three must-try hard hikes near DC Ranch… and if you’re an experienced hiker, give them a shot. Go early to avoid the heat.
3 Remarkably Hard Hikes Near DC Ranch
First things first: These hikes are only for experienced hikers. You’ll find plenty of easier hikes (even beginner hikes) you can do if you’re working your way up to the tough stuff. If you’re ready, though, you might want to try these:
- Camelback Mountain vie Echo Canyon Trail
- Piestewa Peak Summit Trail #300
- Gateway, Bell Pass and Windgate Loop Trail
All the normal safety tips apply – bring at least a gallon of water along (more if you can carry it), wear hike-appropriate shoes (some of these feature slick rock scrambles), watch for rattlesnakes, and bring your phone for emergencies.
Here’s a closer look at each.
#1. Camelback Mountain via Echo Canyon Trail
This hard out-and-back hike takes you past the Praying Monk (it’s on your right on the way up) and into the Echo Canyon Recreation Area. Echo Canyon Trail makes for a strenuous hike, and it’s 2.4 miles both ways as you gain 1,423 feet in elevation. During the winter, this is a heavily trafficked trail – but during the summer, if you leave early enough in the morning, the traffic is low to moderate.
#2. Piestewa Peak Summit Trail #300
Piestewa Peak Summit Trail #300 is 2.2 miles out and back, and you’ll gain 1,151 feet in elevation. The path is well-defined, but it’s steep and makes for a great challenge. There are plenty of switchbacks that give you great views, and once you arrive at the top you’ll see the peaks and ridges of the Phoenix Mountains in front of you. There’s not a lot of shade along the way, but the park is open until 11 p.m., so you can do a night hike and enjoy the sparkling city lights below if you’re so inclined.
#3. Gateway, Bell Pass and Windgate Trail
Tucked in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, the Gateway, Bell Pass and Windgate Trail is a 9.6-mile loop that gives you an overall elevation gain of 1,991 feet. It runs around Drinkwater Peak (3,901 feet) and provides you with great views of Thompson Peak on the south side. You’ll see Horseshoe Ridge on the north side of the trail (you can start going north or south either way from the trailhead). This challenging hike lets you cut through Bell Pass for truly amazing views, but a number of rattlesnakes have recently been spotted along the way, so keep your eyes open.
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