Holbert Trail To Dobbins Lookout

Hike To The Top Of South Mountain

August 1st, 2020

Dog Friendly: Yes, but must be leashed.

Fee: Nope!

Restrooms at trailhead: Yes! The parking lot is very large too. There are normally restrooms at the top of Dobbins Lookout but they are currently under construction.


I personally think South Mountain is very underrated. If you live in the valley I am sure you have heard of South Mountain, but have you hiked it? Because you should! South Mountain is directly South of Phoenix. As is Holbert Trail that takes you up to Dobbins Lookout (spoiler alert: you can drive up to this lookout). I have never driven up to this lookout spot before. But this is my second time hiking up to it. This trail is considered hard on AllTrails. Based off AllTrails it is 3.8 miles out and back and you gain 997 feet in elevation.

We hiked this in the beginning of August so we wanted to get to the trail as early as possible to avoid the heat. We woke up at 3:50am and got to the trail right at 5:00am. We stupidly forgot our head lamps so for the start of the hike we had to use our flashlights on our cellphones, but the sun started to come up so we didn’t have to use them for very long. The start of the trail doesn’t have a lot of elevation gain. You cross multiple washes and eventually get led up to a paved road where you continue up and off to the right where the trail continues. You will see a small sign that is kind of hidden. There is also a water tower at the very end of the paved road. If you get to the fence of the water tower then you missed the trail!

Before we got to the paved road and it was still dark out so we had to use our flashlights
The paved road that you need to follow to continue on the trail

Once you get passed the paved road is where the steady elevation starts. You also will be able to see the switchbacks that you will have to do. First, there is a long trail and then you will turn right and that is when the switchbacks begin. I would say compared to Camelback or Piestewa this hike is definitely not as steep, but it is also longer than those two hikes. As an avid hiker I didn’t find this hike a challenge at all. However, the first time I hiked this I did find it challenging and had to take several breaks. We got to the top in 46 minutes. I think the last stretch of this hike is where it gets the steepest. Just push your way through! The view of the valley is worth it, especially at sunrise (I imagine sunset is amazing too, it’s just so hot out!). Based off my AllTrails mile 1 it says we gained 469 feet and mile 2 we gained 489 feet. Normally you are able to go into Dobbins Lookout and explore the area more, but right now there is construction on Dobbins Lookout so it is currently fenced off. The bathrooms at the top are also under construction. We stayed at the top just for a little to take the sunrise in and we then headed back down. I was surprised how many people were out hiking this trail so early in the morning. It wasn’t crazy busy, but definitely more people than I thought there would be. We passed 2-3 groups of people while heading up. And when we started the trail there were other people just getting there to hike it too. I would recommend to bring more water than you think you need. I wouldn’t recommend to to bring a plastic water bottle. If you are going the water bottle route then bring one that will keep your water cold. Bring snacks too! I also wouldn’t recommend bringing dogs when it is this hot outside. You are not supposed to hike with dogs when it is over 100 degrees. When you start that early it normally isn’t 100 degrees yet, but it is still pretty close. We saw several people with dogs hiking this trails and I think that is a mistake. Overall, this is a great hike right in the valley!

After the paved bath this trail starts to head up
The long trail that takes you to the switchbacks
The switchbacks start!
Are we there yet?
The last stretch of the trail and then you’re at the top!
We made it!

Great view of the valley
Since it was dark out when we started I took pictures on the way down. This is the sign you need to look for once you are on the paved path! You head up this way.
Us heading down the paved path!
One of the washes you walk through
The start of the hike
The very start of the hike. Wahoo! We made it back to the parking lot!

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