It goes without saying that Phoenix in the summer is hot. We're not talking balmy and warm here -- we're talking white-hot-surface-of-the-sun level hot. But clever desert dwellers know that the secret of surviving summer in Phoenix is all about timing. Even with temperatures climbing into the triple digits on a daily basis, there's no reason to draw the shades and turn into a summer shut-in. Instead, program your alarm clock for a daybreak desert hike, and then reward yourself with an early day feast at one of the Valley of the Sun's best breakfast spots. Here's your guide to seven can't-miss early morning summer hikes in Phoenix, coupled with great places to refuel after the long haul.
Hike #1: The Ramada Loop Trail @ Camelback Mountain
Thousands of hikers set out to explore the red sandstone and granite cliffs of Phoenix's iconic Camelback Mountain every year, making this one of the top urban hiking destinations in the Southwest. The main two summit trails are moderately challenging, requiring some tricky footwork to the top of the mountain. For a less strenuous hike that you can easily squeeze in before breakfast, spend the morning exploring Camelback's base on the Ramada Loop Trail, a short, one-eighth mile hike that loops around the upper ramada of Echo Canyon. While short, this easy trail is scenic, circling a small ramada and red butte, and offering close-up views of the surrounding desert flora. To get here, take Echo Canyon Parkway east of Tatum Boulevard to the Camelback Mountain Echo Canyon Recreation Area and follow the signs.
Breakfast #1: La Grande Orange Grocery
La Grande Orange Grocery and Pizzeria, or LGO to the locals, is a neighborhood staple on the Western tip of Phoenix's leafy Arcadia district. Although famous for its specialty pizzas, LGO is also a coveted and busy breakfast spot, featuring a popular coffee bar, fresh baked goods, egg sandwiches, and other breakfast items made from scratch daily with locally grown and organic produce. The Commuter Sandwich, scrambled eggs, tomato, and mayo, with your choice of bacon, turkey, ham, smoked salmon, or avocado on a toasted English muffin, is consistently good. No matter what you pick off the breakfast menu, don't leave without trying LGO's famous homemade English muffins.
Hike #2: Kiwanis Trail @ South Mountain Park
The Kiwanis Trail at South Mountain Park makes an ideal morning hike for scorching hot Phoenix summer days. The trail is not too short, not too long, and depending on how early you arrive, much of the trail is gently shaded. Saguaros and other native flora line the two-mile trail, and if you pay close attention, you'll spy petroglyphs on some of the low-lying rocks along the path (look for the yellow off-limits signs). The first half of this trail is flat and easy, offering gradual incline as you wind through Snake Canyon. To reach the Kiwanis trailhead, take Central Avenue to the park's north entrance and follow the signs.
Breakfast #2: Local Breeze
This patio café, set in an inviting, century-old bungalow on a quiet residential street in downtown Phoenix, is a favorite weekend brunch spot with locals in the know. The French Quarter Toast, two-inch thick Challah bread house-baked with your choice of fruit topping, is as good as it sounds, while the generously-portioned house specialties are more than filling after a rigorous morning hike. If you can stand the heat, spicy food lovers will appreciate Local Breeze's Fire Island Eggs, two eggs served on herbed flatbread with sautéed chicken, onion, bell pepper, fire-roasted chilies, horseradish, and cayenne pepper cream cheese. Shade umbrellas, patio misters, and lounge chairs make this an ideal brunch spot for a late morning cool-down.