Looking for some epic things to do on your visit to Arizona this winter? Check out these 30 Best Arizona Hikes!
Planning your trip to Arizona? From watching sunrise at the Grand Canyon, to hiking through the red rock wonderland of Sedona, and exploring the lush high deserts and mountains of the south, there is so much to do. Endless forests, mountains, and deserts mean endless opportunities for exploration!
Now if you’re a huge outdoors lover like me, then you’ll want to know where the action is in terms of hiking. I compiled this list of the 30 Best Arizona Hikes so you know exactly where to go on your winter trip! The hikes are broken down by region, so you can plan your trip accordingly.
So what are you waiting for?! Keep reading to find out more below…
30 Best Arizona Hikes
#1: The Arizona Trail
No list of hikes in Arizona would be complete without the Arizona Trail. It stretches over 800 miles from the border with the Mexican state of Sonora in the South, near Sierra vista, to the Buckskin Gulch (the longest slot canyon in the world) on the Arizona/Utah state line. Along the way you’ll pass through high desert terrain, the Sonoran Desert, multiple mountain ranges, canyons, forests, the Grand Canyon itself, and at the end slot canyons.
Of course you can always hike just a small portion, too! A couple of hikes in this list are actually part of the Arizona Trail. These include the South Kaibab Trail (#2), and the Miller Peak Wilderness (#28).
#2: South Kaibab Trail (Grand Canyon National Park)
Probably the most strenuous trail on this entire list, the South Kabab is by far also one of the most epic! One of the two trails that descends into the Grand Canyon from south rim, you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views over the mile-deep, 10-mile wide canyon that can be seen from outer space.
Fortunately, you don’t have to descend all the way to the Colorado River for good views! At 3 miles roundtrip, you can hike down to Cedar Ridge, which is 1,200 feet below the rim.
#3: Rim Trail (Grand Canyon National Park)
The 13-mile long Rim Trail runs between the South Kaibab Trailhead and Hermit’s Rest on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Along the way you’ll get to see the canyon from multiple vantage points, and watch the canyon walls glow around sunrise and sunset.
Another bonus is, you can bring your dogs on a leash, too!
#4: Humphrey’s Peak (Flagstaff)
At 10.7 miles roundtrip, and gaining over 3,000 feet in elevation, climbing up Humphrey’s Peak is just about on par with the Grand Canyon in terms of difficulty. Get an early start, and be in excellent shape! Also, you may want to spend a couple of days in Flagstaff (7,000 feet above sea level) acclimating to the high elevation. Altitude sickness is real for many people!
All that being said, climbing the tallest mountain in Arizona is absolutely rewarding. You’ll be met with some extremely beautiful and sweeping views in all directions, as the San Francisco Peaks are isolated on the flat, windswept Colorado Plateau.
#5: Lava River Cave (Flagstaff)
Located just northwest of Flagstaff, this 3/4 mile long tunnel is much easier than most of the previous hikes mentioned! Even so, the underground lava tube does have challenges. There is a pitch black environment, uneven floor, and ceiling that goes from cavernous to 3-4 feet high very rapidly. Be sure to take a headlamp, flashlight, and phone flashlight along!
#6: Island Trail (Walnut Canyon National Monument)
This 1-mile roundtrip trail will take you down into Walnut Canyon, past 25 cliff dwelling ruins. You can even explore some of these ruins, and see the burn marks from where cooking used to be done! All around, this is a great hike for the whole family.
#7: Lenox Crater (Sunset Crater Volcano)
This 1.1 mile loop is again another easy, family friendly hike near Flagstaff. Located right in the middle of the Sunset Crater Volcano field, you climb an actual cinder cone volcano!
#8: Crystal Forest (Petrified Forest)
Located in northeastern Arizona, right off I-40, the Petrified Forest is an excellent stop for any Southwest Road Trip! Now, in the Petrified Forest, the 0.9 mile Crystal Forest Trail will take you around some beautiful
#9: Cathedral Rock (Sedona)
At 3.7 miles roundtrip, the hike up Cathedral Rock will have you scrambling over sandstone to get to the ridge between the two ‘bell towers’. There, you’ll be met with great views over Sedona, the San Francisco Peaks, and the Verde Valley.
#10: Thumb Butte (Prescott)
The small city of Prescott straddles the line between being high desert and low alpine. Right outside of town is Thumb Butte, an iconic granite monolith, which has a 2.5 mile loop trail which ascends through the ponderosa pine forest to the base of the butte. You’ll also get great views over Prescott, too! Hot summers and cold winters mean your best best is to visit in the spring or fall.
#11: Spur Creek Ranch (Cave Creek)
Numerous trails will showcase the Sonoran Desert north of Phoenix at Spur Creek Ranch. Visit in the springtime to see the verdant desert in all of its beauty, with blossoms dotting the hilly countryside.
#12: Go John Trail, Cave Creek Regional Park (Cave Creek)
At 6 miles roundtrip, the Go John Trail will take you around the hilly desert near Cave Creek, through a canyon, and by some unused mines. This is an excellent longer hike for families who want to explore the raw desert.
#13: Emery Henderson Trail (Phoenix)
Quiet, remote, and all around beautiful. That’s the best way to describe the Emery Henderson Trail north of Phoenix! You’ll enjoy the lush, pristine Sonoran Desert in all of its glory. Now, there’s a network of trails and dirt roads in the area, so you can go as short or far as you want. Also, it’s fairly flat, too, making it not strenuous at all!
#14: Echo Canyon Trail, Camelback Mountain (Paradise Valley)
By far the most iconic mountain in metro Phoenix, Camelback is one of those hikes you have to do once! There’s actually two trails to the top, the Echo Canyon and Cholla trails, but we’ll be focusing on Echo Canyon here.
At 2.5 miles out-and-back, you’ll experience a trail which in reality is half climbing up sandstone and over boulder fields to reach the top! Not to worry, it isn’t overly strenuous, though. Being right in the middle of the Phoenix area, right by Tempe, the Papago Mountains, and not too far from downtown Phoenix, you’ll be rewarded with great views from the top!
#15: Piestewa Peak (Phoenix)
At 2.1 miles roundtrip, Piestewa Peak (formerly Squaw Peak) is by and far one of my favorite hikes in the Phoenix area (along with Camelback). This steep, rocky trail ascends one of the most iconic mountains in the Phoenix area, and has great views in all directions at the top.
#16: Hole in the Rock (Phoenix)
While hardly a hike at 0.3 miles roundtrip, Hole in the Rock is another excellent option for the Phoenix area! Located in the oddly placed Papago Mountains, this sandstone arch is a favorite among locals and tourists alike.
#17: Pinnacle Peak (Scottsdale)
At about 3.5 miles roundtrip, Pinnacle Peak is a very well maintained trail in north Scottsdale. Hike around massive granite boulders and the lush Sonoran Desert flora while taking in the great mountain views!
#18: Tom’s Thumb (Scottsdale)
Tom’s Thumb is a 4 mile out and back trail in the McDowell Mountains near Scottsdale. The hike ascends about 1,000 feet in elevation to Tom’s Thumb, a massive granite monolith that can be seen from across the East Valley! Bring a windbreaker or fleece for the top, as it can be quite windy.
#19: Wind Cave Trail, Usery Mountain (Apache Junction)
At 2.9 miles roundtrip, this popular and steep hike ascends 800 feet up to Wind Cave, which has great views over the East Valley. You may want to get an early start to avoid the crowds – it’s worth it!
#20: Peralta to Fremont Saddle (Superstition Wilderness)
At 4.6 miles roundtrip, hiking the Peralta Trail to Fremont Saddle will take you through a lush and rugged valley up to a viewpoint overlooking Weaver’s Needle. Be prepared to be met with excellent views overlooking the rugged Superstition Wilderness in all points on the trail!
#21: Legends of Superior Trail (Superior)
At 4.6 miles roundtrip, the Legends of Superior Trail is possibly one of the best kept secrets in the state. Along the way, you’ll see cliff dwelling ruins, towering canyon walls, and the massive Picket Post Mountain towering overhead. Also, the trail is not at all very strenuous.
#22: Hunter Trail, Picacho Peak
At 2 miles roundtrip, this steep and challenging trail ascends the oddly shaped Picacho Peak. Located right off I-10 between Phoenix and Tucson, it’s not at all difficult to reach, either.
#23: Canyon Loop Trail, Catalina State Park (Oro Valley)
Canyon Loop Trail is a 2.3 mile roundtrip hike in a particularly lush section of the Sonoran Desert near Tucson. Located at the base of the Mount Lemmon, you’ll have excellent mountain views and birding opportunities here!
#24: Tanque Verde Falls (Tucson)
Tanque Verde (Green Tank) Falls east of Tucson should absolutely be on your list for visiting the city! A 1.9 mile roundtrip hike will take you to the epic pool of water, a true oasis in the desert.
#25: Sabino Canyon (Tucson)
At 8 miles roundtrip, the Bear Canyon hike to Seven Falls Trail goes through a stunningly beautiful canyon in the mountains north of Tucson. At the end of the hike you’ll arrive at Seven Falls, which is absolutely beautiful. And luckily, despite being a long trail, it isn’t overly strenuous.
#26: Wasson Peak (Saguaro National Park West)
An eight mile roundtrip hike will ascend 1,800 feet to the top of Wasson Peak in Saguaro National Park. After the strenuous climb and distance you’ll be met with excellent views over metro Tucson, Mount Lemmon, and more!
#27: Birding Trail, Patagonia Lake State Park
At just 0.5 miles, the short birding trail in the high desert of Southern Arizona may not seem like a likely candidate for a list of the best hikes in Arizona. But don’t be fooled, this trail offers some of the best birding opportunities in Arizona, if not the US! Be sure to bring along a pair of binoculars.
#28: Miller Peak Wilderness (Sierra Vista)
The wilderness surrounding the tallest, southernmost peak in the United States is lush and beautiful. Also, the Miller Peak Wilderness happens to be the starting point for the Arizona Trail! .
#29: Chiricahua National Monument
When you visit Chiricahua National Monument, tucked away in a remote corner of southeastern Arizona, you’ll be met with endless rock monoliths and formations in the mountainous terrain. By far the best hike to see as much as possible is Echo Canyon to Heart of Rocks and back, which is 7.3 miles.
So, looking for even more great Arizona travel guides and tips? Go check these out below…
Now that you’ve seen these things best Arizona hikes, don’t miss out on anything else! Follow along with Never Ending Journeys for more fun Travel Inspiration and Ideas!
Have you been to Arizona before? What are YOUR favorite hikes in Arizona?
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