6 Miles

635 feet


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Natural Tunnel Via Dirt Road Trail Hike Overview

The hiking at South Mountain and especially to the Natural Tunnel via the Dirt Road Trail is awesome. The views are excellent and when you get off the Dirt Road Trail, the trail is so nice. There are these big flat rocks with desert varnish and make you feel like you are really hiking and not in the middle of a huge sprawling city. 

Map & Elevation Profile

Total distance: 6.06 mi
Max elevation: 2009 ft
Min elevation: 1374 ft
Total time: 02:20:08

Map for the Ridgeline and Pima Wash Trail Hike

The trails are marked but the signage isn’t great. Also there are a lot of social trails. Having a map with all the trails marked is a really good idea and this map is excellent.

South Mountain Preserve Greentrails Map

South Mountain Preserve Greentrails map

You definitely won’t regret having this map for your South Mountain Preserve hikes (affiliate link)!


Type in “Pima Canyon Trailhead” into your phone and you will be taken to a good parking location for this hike. There is a lot of parking!

Natural Tunnel Via Dirt Road Trail Notes

I have said this before and will say it again,  hiking in the South Mountain Preserve is awesome. It’s hard to articulate why. It’s definitely not because of the desert landscape. Many of the hedgehog cacti and cholla are all dried up. It has to be views of the city and surrounding mountains and the feel of the trails.

There are a lot of ridgeline trails (my fave!) so you just get views for days. On top of that, there are a lot of options. It’s only 30 minutes from our house in north Phoenix and basically takes the same amount of time as it takes to get to the Granite Mountain Trailhead in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

The first part of the hike on the Dirt Road Trail is so so. You get some views and can check out old CCC structures but this is walking on a dirt road. Nothing to write home about.

Once you get up on a ridge via the National Trail, the hiking just gets better and better as you approach the Natural Tunnel. The trail narrows and gets rockier. Plus the views are great and you will probably see animals (see the photo gallery below)! I was tired from hiking Piestewa and Camelback the days before and was feeling pooped. But once we go up in this area I rallied! The great trail made me want more and to keep going.

Other folks recommend hiking to this area via the Mormon trail. I imagine this is a much cooler hike all around!

So, is this the Natural Tunnel via the Dirt Road Trail worth it?

Absolutely! The Natural Tunnel/Hidden Valley area really make it worth. It is a beautiful hidden oasis that hides the fact that you are surrounded by 5 million people. This area will make you feel great!

Other Hikes Close By

Get your map out and create a fun loop. There are a ton of choice. We did the Ridgeline and Pima Wash Trail previously and it was excellent. The views from the ridgelines make it worth a visit!

Photos to Inspire you to go there:

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