Type: Hiking & Mountain Biking Trail
Location: Looktout Mountain
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Distance: 2.2 Miles
Hiking Rating: Good
Mountain Bike Rating: Fair
Last Hiked On: May 6, 2013
Last Biked On: May 3, 2013
Map: Google Maps : City of Phoenix PDF Map : Green Trails Map
Lookout Mountain is just north of, and is quite a bit smaller than, Phoenix Mountain Preserve. But its size makes it quite a bit more manageable and the Summit Trail offers a short, but exciting trail with grand vistas at the top. Like most Phoenix trails, there are lot of unmarked routes that spider-web across the park. But because of its size, and the fact that it is very much marooned in the middle of the city, it is easy to stay heading in the right general direction. That general direction being going around the mountain. Much like a NASCAR circuit, it’s one big turn.
Lookout Mountain Park on 18th Street has some nice play structures, a big open grass field (dog heaven), tennis courts, volley ball courts, and toilets with water. It is a nice clean park. Parking is fair and may be a bit crowded during the weekends in season.
The 16th Street trailhead has a water fountain but no toilet. The parking area is smallish and because of its easy access to the Summit trail, will likely be very crowded on weekends and in season.
Trail 308 is a nice easy meandering trail around the peaks. Though there is some elevation gain, it is not too taxing. Staying on 308 yields a more pleasant experience as you will avoid some of the nastier loose rock sections. It will also keep you higher on the mountain with better views. But the trail isn’t as well marked as it could be, it is not hard to get off on a side trail. But no worries, they all lead back around the mountain at some point.
If you start at the 18th Street trailhead and intend to do the whole loop, be aware that the connector trail to the parking lot can be easy to miss on the way back so keep an eye out for it.
Because of the amount of loose rocky trails, this is not a great ride. And though the distance and elevation make it look like a good novice ride, those loose trails would be too much. It’s much better if you can stay on 308, but the trails are not always well marked, so that can be a challenge. Once off 308, the trails generally get very loose. For intermediate riders (or novices looking to challenge themselves) this is a good little blast around the mountain, but not much else. Another negative for this trail is its width – much of it is single track – which is nice, but it makes sharing the trail with hikers awkward. 308 is not worth going out of your way for, but OK if you are in the neighborhood. Lookout Mountain is very much overshadowed by Phoenix Mountain Preserve.
Please note: mountain biking is prohibited on the Summit Trail and trust me, you don’t want to go up there on a bike anyway.