Per Ranker, Arizona is ranked sixth in the U.S. for the best hiking trails. From the Grand Canyon to Sedona to Phoenix, there are over 1,300 trails to choose from to satisfy your hiking appetite. The climate and terrain vary as much as your hiking choices so do some homework if you are new to Arizona hiking.
WHERE TO START
Where to start will depend on where you are living, staying or visiting in Arizona. I happen to be northwest of Phoenix proper so I have a good selection of trails within a 30 minute drive. One of my favorite hiking areas is Spur Cross Ranch in Cave Creek. The park encompasses 2,154 acres of the Sonoran desert and offers easy, moderate and difficult trails with varying trail lengths. Plan your hike as easy trails connect to moderate trails, so know where you are going. All trails are non-motorized and you will often see horse riders along the trails, so heads up! You can camp at Spur Cross but reservations are needed so call ahead. There is a small $2.00 fee to hike, bike or horseback ride on the trails.
Sedona is phenomenal place to hike. The red rock, incredible views and energy vortexes make it a must on your bucket list if you are an avid hiker. Trails here include easy to moderate to difficult so there is a trail for any level. Depending on the time of year, it can still be rather hot so “know before you go”, as they say. If you are a photographer, you will not be disappointed with the opportunity for stunning photos. Boynton Canyon is a popular easy/moderate hike. The last portion of the trail is a bit rocky so you can turn around at this point, if you are more of a beginner hiker. It is 6.1 miles out-and-back and I like it as there are ample trees to provide shade during your hike. The trail also takes you by the Enchantment Resort, where you can grab lunch or stay, if you are spending a few days in Sedona.
Note that parking is by credit card only for the trail and is $5.00.
The Grand Canyon is all about getting out and hiking to see it’s awe-inspiring beauty. I mean, it is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World! The Bright Angel Trail begins near the main visitor complex by the Hermits Rest shuttle stop at the South Rim. It is the easiest trail to walk to the river but is 9.5 miles so it is not recommended to hike the full 9.5 if you are a beginner to moderate hiker. Most hikers turn around at either the 1.5 or 3 mile rest stations unless you are an expert or very fit hiker. We turned around at the 1.5 mile station as it was very warm the day we were hiking. It is easy to run out of water or hike farther than you should so remember you have to hike back to where you started. I know, it seems silly to have to say, but it is important. If you have a fear of heights, do not hike Bright Angel Trail. Check the Grand Canyon site for weather, lodging, trails and closures. You won’t be disappointed in the magnificence of this place!
DON’T BE THAT PERSON
Remember Arizona can be very hot and dehydration can set in quickly. Before you head out to hike, make sure you have plenty of water and when your water is half gone, turn around and head back to where you started. Other safety tips: stay on the trails, look out for snakes (especially in the evenings, when it gets cooler), let someone know where you are going, try not to hike alone, have a cellphone, dress appropriately and use a map so you can see the trails and difficulty level. Be respectful of the park and other people and take out what you take in. Every year there are over 200 rescues that need to be made in Arizona for people who get injured or dehydrated. Plan ahead, hike at your level and be smart so you don’t put yourself or others at risk.