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Top 15 Hiking Spots in Arizona

Top 15 Hiking Spots in Arizona

15 of the Best Hiking Spots in Arizona

Embark on a captivating journey through Arizona’s diverse landscapes, unveiling a tapestry of natural wonders and outdoor adventures. From the enchanting trails of West Fork Oak Creek to the challenging ascents of Humphreys Peak, each destination promises a unique and unforgettable experience. Boynton Canyon’s spiritual energy vortex, the serene beauty of Horton Creek, and the untamed wilderness of Aravaipa Canyon beckon adventurers. Traverse the iconic Bright Angel Trail, conquer the heights of Camelback Mountain, and immerse yourself in the captivating wonders of Havasu Falls and Cathedral Rock. Whether camping in the vast South Mountain Park, ATV tours, or ascending to the pinnacle of Arizona at Humphreys Peak, these top 15 camping spots offer a gateway to nature’s grandeur, inviting everyone to forge deep connections with the great outdoors.

best hikes near Phoenix

best hikes near Phoenix

West Fork Oak Creek Trailhead

Nestled in the Coconino National Forest, the West Fork Oak Creek Trailhead stands out as one of the most beloved hiking spots in the region. This enchanting trail offers a year-round spectacle, from the vibrant songbirds of spring to autumn’s fiery foliage and winter’s icy adornments. The marked and maintained trail spans three miles, leading to a more challenging route into the Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness.

Whether opting for a shorter hike or the 14-mile canyon stretch, visitors can relish the serene beauty of this natural treasure. For a peaceful experience, plan your visit during quieter mornings or weekdays in the off-season, ensuring an undisturbed connection with the captivating landscapes that await.

Boynton Canyon Trail

Boynton Canyon Trail, nestled among the renowned box canyons of Arizona’s Red Rock Country, offers a scenic escape that is easily accessible via well-paved roads from nearby towns. The trail’s convenience is a double-edged sword, sparing visitors from a dusty jeep track but potentially attracting more company than desired. Despite its popularity, Boynton Canyon remains a favorite for its breathtaking scenery, featuring towering buttes, crimson cliffs, and natural desert gardens that evoke a divine ambiance.

Starting by skirting a luxury resort before returning to the serene canyon floor, the trail promises a pleasant and easy walk. Amidst the harsh desert environment, hikers can appreciate the diverse plant life and spot abundant wildlife, from colorful songbirds to shy whitetail deer. Beyond its visual allure, Boynton Canyon has gained a reputation as a spiritual energy vortex, adding an intriguing dimension to the allure of this captivating hiking spot.

Horton Creek Trailhead

Nestled in natural splendor, the Horton Creek Trailhead offers an enchanting hike alongside Horton Creek, treating hikers to picturesque waterfalls and breathtaking pine stands. Ideal for loop hikes, the trail boasts a serene elevation descent from the north end at 6,420 feet (Highline Trail 31) to the south end at 5,360 feet (Upper Tonto Campground).

For nature enthusiasts and horse riders alike, the journey begins at Upper Tonto Creek Campground, leading through lush colonies of roses, wild grapes, poison ivy, ferns, and strawberries that carpet the forest floor near the creek. The trail culminates at the north end, where Horton Spring emerges, gushing water from the ground—a refreshing finale to this delightful outdoor experience.

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Echo Canyon Trailhead

Embark on an exhilarating adventure with the Echo Canyon Trailhead, a challenging anaerobic hike covering 1.23 miles to the summit. Ascending approximately 1,280 feet, from 1,424 to 2,704 feet above sea level, the trail starts with a steep, well-marked path for the initial 3/8 mile. The journey includes traversing railroad ties, with the steepest and most demanding section featuring the first rail.

Beyond this challenge, a 200-foot low-grade hike precedes a less intense rail section, leading to a final 0.7-mile stretch of large rocks, stunning vistas, and a continued steep ascent to the summit. Numerous photo-worthy spots along the way invite you to capture the breathtaking views, while restrooms are available exclusively at the trailhead on the Echo Canyon trail. Remember that dogs are not permitted on the trail, and it’s essential to preserve the beauty of this area by leaving no trace behind.

Piestewa Peak Summit Trail #300

Outdoor enthusiasts flock to the Piestewa Peak Summit Trail, a haven for hikers, walkers, sightseers, and runners alike. This trail is magnetic because of its proximity to the bustling Phoenix metropolitan area and the promise of expansive views stretching across the Sonoran desert. Embark on a short yet invigorating climb that starts at the parking lot off Piestewa Peak Drive, a gateway to the broader network of hiking trails within the Phoenix Mountain Preserve.

The trail, beginning with a brisk connector trail, leads straight to the summit, treating adventurers to sweeping panoramas of Camelback Mountain, the Dreamy Draw Recreation Area, and the glittering city of Phoenix. Perfect for those seeking a challenging workout and a visual feast, the Piestewa Peak Summit Trail is a standout choice. As the day winds down, the trail takes on a new charm—catch a breathtaking sunset hike to conclude your outdoor escapade on a truly high note.

Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness

Venture into the extraordinary beauty of Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness, an Arizona gem boasting towering cliffs, meandering waterways, and a captivating array of flora and fauna. Spanning 19,410 acres, this designated Wilderness in southeast Arizona, between Tucson and Phoenix, offers a sanctuary for those seeking both solitude and awe-inspiring landscapes. The rugged terrain, devoid of designated trails, campsites, or facilities, invites adventurers to embrace the untamed wild, navigating through dense riparian vegetation that signifies a thriving ecosystem.

Prepare for a journey through stunning landscapes with no shortage of surprises—explore side canyons, caves, outcrops, chimneys, and natural “windows.” The West trailhead, standing at 2,630 feet, launches hikers on a 12.25-mile trek with a continuous 430 feet elevation gain to the East trailhead at 3,060 feet.

Sturdy footwear is essential for navigating sand, gravel, and knee-deep water at stream crossings. Nature enthusiasts and photographers can extend their adventure over one or two nights, immersing themselves in the vibrant fall foliage against the Sonoran Desert backdrop. Aravaipa Creek, a year-round flow, fosters the growth of sycamore, ash, cottonwood, and willow trees—a truly unique and rewarding wilderness experience.

Phoenix Arizona hiking

Phoenix Arizona hiking

Pima Canyon Trailhead

Embark on a trailblazing adventure from the Pima Canyon Trailhead at 4500 E. Pima Canyon Rd. With various trails catering to diverse preferences, this trailhead is a gateway to an outdoor haven.

Choose the Desert Classic Trail, a 9.0-mile journey with a modest 270 ft. elevation change, or opt for the Dirt Road Trail, a shorter 1.2-mile route featuring a 150 ft. elevation change. For a scenic escapade, take the Marcos De Niza Trail, which covers 0.9 miles with an elevation change of 310 feet. Alternatively, explore the Pima East Loop Trail, which offers a gentle 120 ft elevation change.

The Pima Loop Trail, stretching 3.3 miles, provides a longer adventure, while the Pima Ridgeline Trail offers a shorter but captivating 0.7-mile path. Navigate through the serene Pima Wash Trail with a subtle 70 ft. elevation change, or explore the Pima West Loop Trail for a scenic route with the same elevation change. With diverse options, Pima Canyon Trailhead beckons both novice and seasoned hikers to discover the beauty of its trails.

Bob Bear Trailhead

Embark on a challenging journey at the Bob Bear Trailhead, a strenuous trail within the Tonto National Forest. Descending four miles into a 1600′ deep canyon, this trail offers a rugged adventure with no water access until the historic old dam is reached. Unlike other Fossil Creek parking lots, the Bob Bear Trailhead does not grant direct access to Fossil Creek’s water, making the trek even more demanding. Be prepared for loose rocks and a steep ascent on the return climb, especially in the summer when temperatures can soar.

This trail demands sturdy footwear, as flip-flops have proven disastrous for some hikers. Sunscreen and sufficient food and water for the entire day are essential for those daring to take this challenging route. The Bob Bear Trailhead beckons adventurers seeking a demanding yet rewarding outdoor experience amidst the rugged beauty of Tonto National Forest.

Mormon Trailhead

Discover the vast wonders of South Mountain Park/Preserve at the Mormon Trailhead, a gateway to more than 16,000 acres of municipally managed parkland. Encompassing three mountain ranges – the Ma Ha Tauk, Gila, and Guadalupe – this expansive park offers over 50 miles of hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking trails. Cyclists also favor the park’s roadways for a thrilling ride.

Ascend to Dobbins Lookout, the highest accessible point at 2,330 feet, reachable via hiking trails and Summit Rd. This popular spot attracts tourists and locals eager to savor an unobstructed panoramic view of the Valley. South Mountain Park/Preserve, with its diverse trails and scenic lookout points, invites outdoor enthusiasts to explore the beauty of Arizona’s landscape.

Bright Angel Trail

Embark on an awe-inspiring journey at the Bright Angel Trail, commencing at Grand Canyon Village on the south rim of the Grand Canyon. This trail is an exhilarating descent of 4380 feet to the majestic Colorado River, boasting an average grade of 10% along its entire length. For those seeking an extended adventure, the River Trail continues an additional 1.9 miles to the Bright Angel Campground and Phantom Ranch, serving as a popular route for hikers and mules to access Phantom Ranch.

As you traverse the Bright Angel Trail, you’ll encounter key intersections that enhance your experience. The Tonto Trail at Havasupai Gardens leads westward toward the Monument Use Area, while the South Kaibab Trail awaits 4.7 miles to the east. Another significant junction is with the River Trail, officially commencing at the River Resthouse when the Bright Angel Trail reaches the Colorado River. Whether capturing breathtaking canyon views or venturing towards iconic destinations, the Bright Angel Trail promises an unforgettable exploration of the Grand Canyon’s mesmerizing beauty.

Camelback Mountain

Embark on a thrilling adventure up Camelback Mountain, where two challenging trails beckon intrepid hikers to conquer a 1,280-foot ascent. The Echo Canyon Trail, spanning 1.14 miles, and the 1.4-mile Cholla Trail promise a strenuous yet rewarding journey with steep grades, dirt paths, rocky terrain, and even some handrail-assisted sections. Brace yourself for a round trip lasting 1.5 to 3 hours, ensuring an exhilarating outdoor experience for those seeking a formidable hike.

As you conquer Camelback’s heights, encounter the awe-inspiring Praying Monk, a red sandstone rock formation on the northern slope. This striking landmark not only captivates with its silhouette resembling a person in prayer but also serves as a thrilling rock climbing destination, boasting a rise of approximately 100 feet. The eastern face features permanent anchor bolts, inviting climbers to test their skills against the majestic backdrop of Camelback Mountain.

hiking trails in Arizona with waterfalls

hiking trails in Arizona with waterfalls

Havasu Falls

Embark on a breathtaking odyssey to Havasu Falls, a dazzling jewel hidden within the Grand Canyon’s Havasupai tribal lands. Just 1.5 miles from Supai, this iconic waterfall unveils its vibrant blue-green hues as it plunges over a 90-to-100-foot cliff into inviting plunge pools, creating a mesmerizing tapestry of nature’s artistry.

The adventure unfolds with an 8-mile hike from Hualapai Hilltop to Supai, followed by an additional 2-mile trek to the falls and campground. Daredevils can swim behind the cascading waters, though the allure comes with caution, as the landscape’s transformation over the years tells a dynamic tale of Havasu Falls’ enduring beauty and risks.

Cathedral Rock

Embark on a visual spectacle at Cathedral Rock, an iconic sandstone butte near Sedona, Arizona, celebrated as one of the state’s most captivating sights. Rising 4,967 feet in the Coconino National Forest, this geological masterpiece beckons adventurers to explore its popular Cathedral Rock trail, promising a short yet steep ascent to panoramic saddle points that unveil breathtaking vistas against the Arizona skyline.

Carved from the Permian Schnebly Hill formation, Cathedral Rock narrates a geological tale etched by ancient coastal dunes near the Pedregosa Sea shoreline. Ripple marks grace the lower trail, while a black basalt dike in the first saddle adds to the awe of this natural wonder. Amidst the enchanting landscape, Cathedral Rock invites all to marvel at its beauty and uncover the secrets of its ancient origins.

Humphreys Peak

Embark on an exhilarating ascent to Humphreys Peak, the highest natural point in Arizona at 12,637 feet. Nestled within the Kachina Peaks Wilderness in the Coconino National Forest, this majestic peak is not only the second most prominent after Mount Graham but also stands as the crown jewel of the dormant volcanic San Francisco Peaks, just 11 miles north of Flagstaff.

Dare to conquer the heights and witness the awe-inspiring views from the summit, where the air is crisp, and the landscape unfolds in a breathtaking panorama. Humphreys Peak beckons adventurers to explore its rugged beauty, offering a thrilling escapade into the heart of Arizona’s wilderness.

Top 15 Hiking Spots in Arizona

Top 15 Hiking Spots in Arizona

Antelope Canyon

Embark on a breathtaking journey through Antelope Canyon, a spellbinding slot canyon in the heart of the American Southwest on Navajo land. With sections like the iconic Upper Antelope Canyon, Rattle Snake Canyon, and Lower Antelope Canyon, this geological wonder offers a symphony of rock formations, each with its mesmerizing allure.

As you explore the winding passages, be prepared for a visual feast and challenging photography conditions, where light reflects off the canyon walls, creating an ethereal display of colors. Since opening for tours in 1983 and becoming a Navajo Tribal Park in 1997, Antelope Canyon stands not just as a geological marvel but as a testament to the captivating beauty that nature can sculpt within the intricate sandstone walls of this Southwest treasure.

Top 15 Hiking Spots in Arizona

Arizona’s top 15 hiking spots offer a captivating tapestry of natural wonders and outdoor adventures. From the enchanting trails of West Fork Oak Creek to the challenging ascents of Humphreys Peak, each destination promises a unique and unforgettable experience. Whether exploring the spiritual energy vortex of Boynton Canyon, the serene beauty of Horton Creek, or the untamed wilderness of Aravaipa Canyon, these trails invite hikers to forge deep connections with the great outdoors. Iconic trails like Bright Angel, Camelback Mountain, and Havasu Falls showcase breathtaking views and exhilarating challenges, while the diverse terrains, from canyons to peaks, unveil the rugged beauty and geological wonders that define Arizona’s landscapes.

As outdoor enthusiasts traverse these trails, they face physical challenges and discover the rich tapestry of the state’s natural beauty. From the depths of canyons to the summit of peaks, Arizona’s hiking spots provide opportunities for spiritual reflection, serene encounters with waterfalls, and panoramic vistas that leave an indelible mark on those who dare to explore. In essence, these hiking spots serve as gateways to nature’s grandeur, inviting everyone to embrace the untamed wild and immerse themselves in the captivating wonders of the Arizona wilderness.

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