South Mountain Park Pima Canyon Trailhead extreme makeover expands access, improves experience


In recent years, the Pima Canyon parking area and trailhead in South Mountain Park has become quite popular with hikers and mountain bikers. Maybe a little too popular.

On weekends during cooler months, it had become very difficult to find a parking spot. And the facilities were showing signs of chronic overuse.

In 2018, the City of Phoenix closed down the access point for a few months to give it a facelift. When I visited Pima Canyon shortly after it reopened, I was happy to see that what it really received was an extreme makeover.

Some pleasant surprises that users of the Pima Canyon Trailhead will enjoy:

  • More parking on a freshly paved surface
  • Enhanced landscape with desert native plants
  • More restrooms that are clean and modern
  • Expanded shade canopies
  • Improved signage and trail maps
Phoenix South Mountain Pima Canyon trailhead sign
Pima Canyon trailhead sign in Phoenix South Mountain Park serves as a sort of cornerstone of the modern new facilities that opened to the public in 2018.
View of three restroom doors with unisex insignia
New restrooms at Phoenix South Mountain Pima Canyon Trailhead are a huge improvement over the filthy, smelly toilets that existed previously.
empty parking lot with desert mountain rising in background
South Mountain Pima Canyon parking lot was expanded, reconfigured and resurfaced as part of the 2018 extreme makeover.

Hiking trailhead sign

South Mountain Pima Canyon trailhead sign points way to primary trails.

Primary trails accessible from Pima Canyon Trailhead:

  • Desert Classic Trail
  • National Trail
  • Pima Wash Trail
  • Mormon Loop Trail

The City of Phoenix published the interactive Google map below spotlighting the major trails in South Mountain Park. To see which trails are accessible from the Pima Canyon Trailhead, zoom into the northeast corner (upper right) of the map.

Hiking trail interpretive sign
South Mountain Pima Canyon interpretive sign helps trail users plan their routes.
Hiking trailhead with signs on either side
Pima Canyon Trailhead in South Mountain Park. National Trail starts here and runs approximately 14 miles (one way) across the top of two conjoined mountains inside the 16,000+ acre park.
Shaded shelter with desert mountain area in background
This new large shade canopy at South Mountain Pima Trailhead will bring welcome relief to folks as they come off the trails.

The improvements were paid for out of a fund created with sales tax revenues approved by voters for Phoenix Mountain preserve improvement projects. Similar improvements were unveiled at the Echo Canyon Trailhead of Camelback Mountain in 2017 and are slated for Piestewa Peak in 2019.

Additionally, trail workers repaired a number of trails accessible from Pima Canyon. Some unofficial finger trails created by users going “off trail” were closed off help protect the natural environment and cut down on the number of people getting lost.

The trail work is part of the $23 million South Mountain Park Trail Master Plan, which is expected to take five years or so to complete. It will add improved signage while expanding and completing the system of recognized trails, making it easier to comprehend.

In other words, one of the best mountain parks in Phoenix is about to get a lot better.

Want to see the new Pima Canyon Trailhead facilities for yourself? Tap the map

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