Dog-Friendly Hiking In Scottsdale Arizona Photo of man with dog

Dog-Friendly Hiking In Scottsdale

Nothing beats hiking through the great outdoors with your adorable four-legged sidekick! Not only is it fantastic exercise for you both, but hiking also gives you the opportunity to explore nature and enjoy some fresh air together. These are the best places for dog-friendly hiking in Scottsdale.

There are so many great trails to visit in Scottsdale, AZ, with something available for every skill level and preference. Check out the various trails below to see which ones sound like a good fit for you and your pup!

(Note: For your dog’s safety, is it required that they remain on a leash that’s no longer than 6 feet at all times to avoid any encounters with wildlife and cacti, and to only bring them along on days when the temperature is below 90 degrees.)

McDowell Sonoran Preserve:

The McDowell Sonoran Preserve is open from sunrise to sunset, with all trailheads opening and closing at specific times throughout the year. It is free to enjoy the preserve and its 200+ miles of trails (be sure to check out the maps online or pick up one upon arrival). 

There is plenty of parking available at McDowell Sonoran Preserve, along with bathrooms, water fountains, and even trailside experts who can answer any questions you may have. The Paws in the Preserve program provides suggestions for pet-friendly activities at the preserve, and waste bags are available at most of the trailheads as well. 

Address: 18333 N. Thompson Peak Pkwy, Scottsdale AZ 85255

There are lots of trail choices available for all skill levels, including the following trailheads:

  • Lost Dog Wash (easy)
  • Gateway (easy to moderate)
  • Brown’s Ranch (easy to moderate)
  • Tom’s Thumb (moderate to difficult)
  • Sunrise (difficult)

Learn more about the trailheads at McDowell Sonoran Preserve and a couple of other trails for dog-friendly hiking in Scottsdale below.

Lost Dog Wash Trailhead:

There is plenty of parking available at Lost Dog Wash, as well as restrooms, water fountains, and a small botanical garden at the entrance. Access this trailhead from Via Linda or Shea Boulevard; head North on 124th Street, which will dead-end at the Lost Dog Wash. The ground can be a bit rocky on these trails, so good hiking shoes are recommended. Bonus points for having dog in the name for dog-friendly hiking in Scottsdale.

Address: 12601 N 124th St, Scottsdale, AZ 85259

Some Hiking Trails Available at Lost Dog Wash:

  • Kovach Family Nature Trail (0.5 miles)
  • Ringtail Trail (2.4 miles)
  • Taliesin Overlook (4 miles)
  • Sunrise Trail East (4 miles)
  • Old Jeep Trail (4.1 miles)

Gateway Trailhead:

The Gateway Trailhead is a must-visit for any nature lover in Scottsdale. It offers many fairly wide trails to choose from for all skill levels, ranging from a 0.5-mile kid-friendly nature trail, a 3.5-mile loop, and an 8-12 mile hike. This trailhead is an outlet for several other trails, leading to all different levels of difficulty. 

There’s plenty of free parking at the Gateway trailhead, along with restrooms, water fountains, and waste bags available for you to pick up after your pup. 

Address: 18333 N Thompson Peak Pkwy, Scottsdale, AZ 85255

Brown’s Ranch Trailhead:

The Brown’s Ranch Trailhead has endless miles of well-marked and maintained trails for any skill level, with access to destinations such as Cathedral Rock, Brown’s Mountain, Granite Mountain, and Cholla Mountain. You can enjoy an easy 1/2 mile trail, or hike for miles and miles around the park, enjoying amazing views, plants, and wildlife.

Weekends often get crowded at Brown’s Ranch, but there is a large parking lot at the trailhead with bathrooms, water fountains, maps, and volunteers available that can help you select a trail that’s best for you. This trailhead is located about 1.25 miles North of the intersection of Alma School Parkway and Dynamite Boulevard.

Address: 30301 N Alma School Pkwy, Scottsdale, AZ 85262

Some Hiking Trails Available at Brown’s Ranch:

  • Jane Rau Trail (0.4 miles)
  • Brown’s Ranch (3.1 miles)

Tom’s Thumb Trailhead:

The Tom’s Thumb Trailhead is one of the best hikes in Scottsdale because of its smooth trails, stunning rock features, and great signage throughout. There are a variety of trails available for different skill levels, but the hardest of the trails is rather difficult. 

Most hikers that have visited Tom’s Thumb agree that the first mile of the trail is the most challenging since it’s rather steep, and the paths can be a bit slippery at times as well since the trail is loose gravel (hiking shoes are recommended). Though this hike can be more challenging than others, it is worth it for its gorgeous views of the valley, urban Phoenix, and southern McDowell mountains.

Do keep in mind that there is no water available at the trailhead, so be sure to bring plenty for you and your four-legged friend. You can access this hike from the new Tom’s Thumb trailhead off of North 128th Street, where there is plenty of parking available, as well as restrooms and informational kiosks. 

Address: 23015 N 128th St, Scottsdale, AZ 85255

Some Hiking Trails Available at Tom’s Thumb:

  • Lookout Viewpoint (5.1 miles)
  • Tom’s Thumb/East End Loop (11.1 miles)
  • Marcus Landslide (3.7 miles)

Sunrise Trailhead:

The Sunrise Trailhead is a 4-mile long trail that’s great for more experienced hikers. It is less crowded than a lot of the nearby trails due to its difficulty level, featuring steep, narrow, and rocky trails with the majority of this hike being done uphill. If you’re up for a bit of a challenge, this hike is perfect for its scenic views of Fountain Hills, Camelback, Superstition Wilderness, the 4 Peaks Wilderness, and the entire McDowell mountain range.

There is free parking at this trailhead, but the parking lot is small and rather limited. Fortunately, there is an overflow parking lot available a couple of blocks down the street. There are also water fountains for you and your pup, but no restrooms at this location.

Address: 12101 N. 145th Way, Scottsdale, AZ 85259

Wake up extra early for a beautiful sunrise. Nobody said that dog-friendly hiking in Scottsdale had to be early.

Marcus Landslide Trail:

If you’re looking for dog-friendly hiking in Scottsdale with beautiful views, then this is for you! The Marcus Landslide Trailhead is located in the southern portion of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, leaving from Tom’s Thumb. This trail makes for a reasonably easy hike, except for the final loop, which is more moderate and narrow. The trail is around 4.1-miles long, including the optional .7-mile loop, and has a smooth surface with no loose or jagged rocks.

The Marcus Landslide trailhead is located in the upper left corner of the same parking lot that serves the Tom’s Thumb trailhead (again, keep in mind that there is no water available and you will have to bring enough for you and your dog). This trail is best for hiking between March and October, but be sure to visit in the Spring when all of the beautiful wildflowers are in bloom.

There are also small detour trails along the way throughout this remote area to stop and check out many interesting rock formations, including mushroom rocks, boulders, and a granite landslide.

Address: 23015 N 128th St, Scottsdale, AZ 85255

The Arizona Canal Trail:

The Arizona Canal trail is a very long, multi-use trail with well-maintained paths that seem to go on forever. The trail is paved at times and not at others, but is flat and smooth throughout, making it a perfect spot for an easy walk or even some long-distance running with your dog. There are also long sections of the trail without any traffic lights or roads to cross, which is a plus.

Some parts of the canal tend to get crowded with lots of people walking, running, or riding their bikes, but overall, it’s a great trail. Some of the businesses along the Arizona Canal trail welcome dogs if you’d like to stop have a bite to eat. There are also bathrooms at one of the parks near the Arizona falls, with water fountains along the way. Parking is available at the Silverado Golf Club at 7605 E. Indian Bend Road Scottsdale, AZ 85250.

Address: 6630 E Indian School Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85250

Thanks to my friend, Cheryl for letting me know about this location for dog-friendly hiking in Scottsdale.

Pemberton Trail:

If you’re interested in taking a challenging hike with your pup, visit the 15.3-miles long Pemberton Trail to enjoy gorgeous views of the McDowells and the Four Peaks. This well-maintained trail is the longest in the McDowell Mountain Park, which has varied terrain with some dips and inclines and a long loop that gets a bit rocky towards the end.

This trail is open from March to October, and you can access it from the McDowell Mountain Regional Park or through the Marcus Landslide Trail starting at the Tom Thumb’s trailhead. There is a $7 entrance fee per vehicle to get into the park, which has bathrooms available. Do keep in mind that there are no spots along the trail to refill your water, so be sure to bring an adequate supply for you and your pup to stay well-hydrated.

Address: 16300 McDowell Mountain Park Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85250


Dog-Friendly Hiking In Scottsdale

I hope that you and your four-legged friend enjoy this list of trails for dog-friendly hiking in Scottsdale together! Please always be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks for both you and your pup to stay fueled-up and well-hydrated. Also, be aware of your dog’s limits to ensure that they can safely and comfortably enjoy exploring the outdoors with you!


If you’re interested in buying or selling a home in the beautiful city of Scottsdale, then contact me today!

Phone: 602-560-4807

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *