Piestewa Peak

Piestewa Peak

Sun setting on Piestewa Peak and the Phoenix Mountain Preserve | Tim Roberts Photography

Piestewa Peak, formerly known as Squaw Peak, is a prominent landmark located in the heart of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve in Arizona. This iconic natural wonder boasts an elevation of 2,610 feet and serves as a popular recreational destination for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. Piestewa Peak has a rich history and cultural significance, with its name honoring Lori Ann Piestewa, a Native American woman who was the first female soldier to die in combat during the Iraq War.

The summit trail at Piestewa Peak is a challenging 1.2-mile hike that attracts thousands of visitors each year. The trail offers magnificent panoramic views of the surrounding desert landscape, making it a favorite among both local residents and tourists alike. As one of the highest peaks in Phoenix, it provides an unparalleled vantage point for admiring the stunning vistas and vibrant sunsets that Arizona is famous for.

Apart from its scenic beauty, Piestewa Peak is also recognized for its ecological importance. The mountain preserve is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including various species of cacti, wildflowers, birds, and reptiles. This unique ecosystem contributes to the overall appeal of Piestewa Peak as a destination for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts.

Moreover, Piestewa Peak serves as a symbol of unity and camaraderie among hikers and outdoor adventurers. Its challenging trails foster a sense of shared accomplishment among those who conquer its summit, creating lasting memories and connections among its visitors. The peak is not only a testament to Arizona’s stunning natural beauty but also an enduring tribute to the bravery and sacrifice of Lori Ann Piestewa.

Piestewa Peak is an exceptional destination that offers a perfect blend of physical challenge, breathtaking scenery, and rich cultural history. With its captivating landscape and storied past, the peak continues to draw visitors from all walks of life, reaffirming its status as one of Arizona’s most cherished natural wonders.

Fast Facts

The sun sets on Phoenix on a spring night at Camelback Peak. | Kenyon Gerbrandt

Country: United States

State/Province: Arizona

Mountain Range: Phoenix Mountains

Parents: Phoenix Mountains

Elevation: 2,610 feet / 796 meters

Prominence: 1,176 feet / 358 meters

Isolation: 4.05 miles / 6.51 kilometers

Nearest Higher Neighbor (NHN): Camelback Mountain

Flora and Fauna

Piestewa Peak, located within the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, is renowned for its picturesque landscape and stunning panoramic views. This iconic landmark is not just a popular tourist destination but also an ecological marvel that is home to diverse flora and fauna. The unique microclimate and varying elevations of Piestewa Peak support a thriving ecosystem of plants, animals, and birds which are well-adapted to the arid conditions of the Sonoran Desert.

Saguaro and Four Peaks near Phoenix, Arizona. | LHBLLC

The flora of Piestewa Peak encompasses a wide variety of plant species that have evolved to withstand the harsh desert environment. Among these plants, one can find the towering Saguaro cactus, which serves as a vital source of sustenance for various desert dwellers. In addition to the Saguaro, the lower slopes of Piestewa Peak are adorned with other cacti species like the prickly pear, cholla, and barrel cactus. The higher elevations host a different assemblage of plants, including the ocotillo, palo verde tree, and creosote bush. These plants play a crucial role in maintaining the ecological balance by providing food, shelter, and shade to numerous living organisms.

Arizona creosote bush close up in the Phoenix desert | MCGoodman

The fauna at Piestewa Peak is equally remarkable, with an abundance of animals that have adapted to the arid conditions. The peak is home to numerous reptile species such as Gila monsters, rattlesnakes, and desert tortoises. Mammals like jackrabbits, coyotes, javelinas, and mule deer are also found wandering across the rocky terrains. Additionally, Piestewa Peak serves as a sanctuary for a diverse array of bird species. Birdwatchers can spot hummingbirds, turkey vultures, Gila woodpeckers, and even the occasional golden eagle soaring high above the peak.

Gila Monster climbing Rocks through the Arizona Desert | Evelyn D. Harrison

Piestewa Peak is indeed a treasure trove of flora and fauna, showcasing the incredible adaptability of life in the harsh Sonoran Desert environment. The conservation and preservation of these plants, animals, and birds are essential to maintaining the delicate balance of the ecosystem, ensuring that this natural wonder continues to captivate visitors for generations to come.


Piestewa Peak offers a variety of trails for hikers of all skill levels. The Piestewa Peak trails are widely recognized for their captivating views, diverse flora and fauna, and challenging terrain that attracts thousands of visitors each year. As one of the highest peaks in the Phoenix area, Piestewa Peak stands proudly at an elevation of 2,610 feet, providing panoramic views of the surrounding desert landscape and city skyline.

The most popular route among the Piestewa Peak trails is the Summit Trail, a challenging 1.2-mile hike with an elevation gain of approximately 1,200 feet. This steep trail requires physical fitness and endurance as hikers navigate rocky terrain and switchbacks while ascending to the summit. For a less strenuous option, the Circumference Trail offers a 3.74-mile loop around the base of Piestewa Peak, allowing hikers to experience the beauty of the desert landscape without the demanding climb to the summit.

Night shot of hikers’ flashlights along Piestewa Peak Trail in the Phoenix, AZ Mountain Preserve | kenelamb photographics

Hikers on the Piestewa Peak trails will encounter a diverse range of plant life, from towering saguaro cacti to vibrant wildflowers during springtime. Additionally, the preserve is home to various wildlife species such as coyotes, javelinas, and numerous bird species that can be spotted throughout the trails. As a result, it is essential for visitors to follow trail etiquette and respect local flora and fauna by staying on designated paths and observing posted signage.

The Piestewa Peak trails offer a unique hiking experience amidst the stunning desert landscape of Phoenix, Arizona. With various trails suited for different skill levels, visitors can challenge themselves while admiring breathtaking views and exploring the diverse ecosystem of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. Whether you are a seasoned hiker or a beginner looking for an adventurous outdoor activity, the Piestewa Peak trails are a must-visit destination.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: