Trail

Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Tonto National Forest, Arizona

Phoenix, AZ
Length: 1.50 mi.
Type: Loop

About This Trail

[Total: 0    Average: 0/5]

ACTIVITIES: Birding, hiking

LENGTH OF HIKE: Main trail is 1.5 miles

OUT AND BACK OR LOOP: Loop

DIFFICULTY OF TERRAIN: Easy

ELEVATION GAIN: No

PARKING FEE/PASS: Adults $12.50/children 5–12 $5

TOILETS: Yes

CHANGING TABLE: Yes

NURSING BENCHES: Yes

DOGS ALLOWED: Yes

BIKES/HORSES/MOTORS ON TRAIL: No

CELL RECEPTION: Yes

DRINKING WATER AVAILABLE: Yes

POTENTIAL CHILD OR BABY HAZARDS: Rattlesnakes in the summer

GEAR SUGGESTIONS: Water, hat, sunglasses

Recognized as one of the most beautiful arboretums in the country, Boyce Thompson, located in the shadow of Picketpost Mountain, is a new parent and toddler delight with 2 miles of trails that are mainly flat and gentle. Beautiful views line the 1.5-mile main trail, and numerous varieties of butterflies flit about, which makes this a delightful spot for the ever-awestruck toddler. With a number of resting points, it’s easy for nursing moms or new little hikers to slowly make their way through the park. The entire park is family friendly for everyone from baby to grandma.

Look for the Children’s Garden with fountains and easy-to-follow interpretive signs that cater to younger kids. The gardens loop around from trail to trail, so you can make it a short hike or connect the various parts of the trail and get in some distance.

Regulars at the arboretum suggest planning on a minimum of 2 hours to walk the trails. Take a picnic, and your family can make a day of it. Flowers are plentiful, cacti and succulents dot the landscape, and water can be found throughout the park at various times of year. Surprisingly, visitors report that this park is doable even in the hot summer sun, thanks to resting spots and shade.

Venture into the central mission, where older kids and adults can enjoy an exhibit about the area. Or meander down the trails and capture snapshots of the hundreds of plants and desert birds. Spring and early summer are when the sandy landscape especially comes alive with wildflowers. Look for the state flower, the saguaro, in May and June. Poppies, red flax, and verbena are just a few of the blooms you’ll find over the 100 acres of native vegetation.

Beyond that, there are 200 acres of exhibits with desert plants from around the
globe. The numerous varieties of flowers also bring in birds and other small animals like squirrels, javelinas, raccoons, foxes, and the occasional mule
deer. Look in the flowers or up in the trees for black-tailed sparrows, curve-billed thrashers, verdins, northern mockingbirds, black phoebes, Cooper’s hawks, Gambel’s quail, broad-billed hummingbirds, Abert’s towhees, song sparrows, and great-tailed grackles.

Being that this is desert and a fairly remote location (it’s about an hour outside of Phoenix), keep in mind that rattlesnakes, tarantulas, and scorpions are also a part of the landscape. They usually scatter at the sound of people, but be watchful of kids around rock piles, where critters and slithering friends can hide . If you see a
rattlesnake, simply take a step back and let it pass. But more dangerous than the animals of the desert is dehydration. Bring lots of water when you hike, because even though this is a developed reserve, it’s still a desert! Another thing to note is that dogs are welcome on leash, and the park provides filled water bowls throughout the trails to help remind people to stop and water their fourlegged friends as well.

INSIDER’S TIP
If you are up for an additional challenge and are a more experienced hiker, after touring the arboretum, you can travel 0.5 mile west down the road and hike Picketpost Mountain. It’s steep, not toddler friendly, and there’s a 2,000-foot elevation gain, so it will take about 2 to 3 hours one way. We advise this one only if you are comfortable carrying your baby.

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Trail Features

Seasons Fall, Spring, Summer, and Winter
Stroller friendly No
ADA accessible No
Water fountains Yes
Bathrooms Yes
Cell reception Excellent
Pet friendly Yes
Nearby convenience store No
Camping Nearby No
Emergency support
within 5 miles
No

Trail highlights

Natural Play Area, Picnic Area, and Shelter

WHY IT’S A FAVORITE
“Boyce Thompson is a wonderful place to hike in the desert and get away from the urban centers in Arizona. The trails are all stroller-accessible and perfect for a new mom carrying a young baby, yet interesting enough and diverse enough for bigger kids (up to grade-schoolers). There is something for kids of all ages.” —JILL CRAVEN

Fee & Parking Details

Fee : $12.50

Adults $12.50/children 5–12 $5

Trail Contributor

[Total: 0    Average: 0/5]

Hike it Baby Trail Guide is managed by the Family Trail Guide team. If a trail has been “abandoned” by the initial owner, it gets adopted by the team. Also, if there are no trails in the area, the Family Trail Guide team researches trails that are family friendly in the area to insure that hikes cover all areas where Hike it Baby hikes.

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