If you are looking for an easy kid friendly hike in the Phoenix area, Hieroglyphic trail is the hike for you.
It is a 2.8-3 mile round trip with minimal elevation gain of around 600 feet. The trail is well maintained and frequently traveled. There are one or two slightly rocky spots and a very minimal scramble at the end.
At the end of the route is a retaining basis that often holds water during the winter and after a storm will run water. On the far side of the stream are some cool Indian Petroglyphs. The petroglyphs are from the Hohokam Indians, which inhabited this area around 1,500 years ago.
Local lore tells that the trail was originally misnamed because the locals though the Indian drawings where Hieroglyphics. Petroglyphs are simple rock art carvings, whereas hieroglyphs are stylized pictures used to represent words and language.
I’ve done the route a couple of times with kids of various ages and all of them have enjoyed the hike and done well. The five year old we carried part of the way back, but all of the older kids did it without any issues.
It is also a great route to do with children in carriers. My daughter loved it.
Please note that this is Phoenix hiking. I don’t recommend doing this hike in the summer and regardless of the time of year take plenty of water.
I had a hard time finding a website with good directions and ultimately just ended up using Google. Ironically enough it worked perfectly. Below is a quick map as a reference guide, but if you do a search for Hieroglyphic Trail in Phoenix you shouldn’t have any issues finding the trail head.
The trail head is at the end of Cloudview Road if you have any Google issues.
There is a large gravel parking lot at the trail head. I’ve always been able to find parking, but the lot does get pretty full, so plan accordingly. Please note that this is also the trail head for the Lost Goldmine trail. There is no water or bathroom facilities at the trail head, but there were porta-potties last time I was there.
Both trails begin at the North East side of the parking lot. You will head east for about a quarter of a mile until you reach the top of a low ridge. The Lost Goldmine trail will go right and you will head north towards the superstition mountains. If you know where you are going and look carefully you can see the notch where Hieroglyphics spring is located.
The rest of the path is an easy hike until you reach the water retention area. My understanding is that if you continue up canyon you will eventually reach Hieroglyphic Spring. If anyone knows for sure please let me know. I don’t want to hike up further with a baby unless I have more then just speculations.
I highly recommend Hieroglyphic trail if you are looking for a quick in and out trip.
We had a two kids in carriers and four kids hiking with us. We weren’t hiking quickly. It took us around 45 minutes to reach the basin and about 30 minutes to hike out.