Hike | Desert Classic Trail | South Mountain


South Mountain is one of the most notable mountains in the East Valley due to its different trailheads in Ahwatukee, Chandler, and Phoenix. One of the most popular multipurpose trails for hiking, trail running, and mountain biking is the Desert Classic Trail. Access can be found at the Pima Canyon Trailhead.


  • Length: 9 mi
  • Trail Type: Out and back, or loop
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 793 ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Kid Friendly: Yes!
  • Dog-Friendly: Yes, dog must be on a leash! 


This hike can be accessed at various trailheads. If starting at the Pima Canyon Trailhead, head south until you reach the Desert Classic Trail, marked by a “DC” on the trail poles. There are two ways to hike the trail: Turning right will give you a scenic 1.1 mile route to the end of the trail that is flat with minor uphills and downhills. Petroglyphs, blooming saguaro cacti, cholla cacti, and wildlife can be seen all along the trail. Different angles of the large South Mountain remain in view.

However, turning left along the Marcos De Niza Trail will lead you towards the TV towers. There are many options of looped trails through boulder piles and cacti with enough changing elevation to keep the trail interesting.

Eventually, the trail will level out and lead you to intersect with the Telegraph trail. As a popular route with multipurpose use, there is heavy foot traffic even during the early mornings. There is minimal to no shade along this trail.


The Pima Canyon Trail head can be found off of the Elliot Rd exit towards Guadalupe. From there, turn left then right onto S. 44th St. Turn left onto E San Gabriel Ave, which will lead you through a neighborhood to a dead end where you can park to get to the trail.


1. Wear trail shoes if you have them due to the rocky nature of the trail and loose gravel

2. Bring and drink enough water throughout the hike – 1-2 Liters will be adequate.

3. Wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun. During the Summer, starting before 7AM is recommended to avoid the sweltering heat. There is not much shade along this trail.

4. Enjoy the trail! Watch your footing, but make sure to look up from time to time to drink in the panoramic city and boulder sceneries!

5. As always, pack in what you take out! Leave no trace.


This blog was thoughtfully written by Annie Nguyen. You can find her on Instagram at @_annien.

* Please remember to hike at your own risk. To learn more please refer to our Hiking Disclaimer