Here are my top 10 best hikes in Arizona. Did you know that Arizona is full of hikes called “Hike” in the United States? Let me share with you my best itineraries.
Hiking in Arizona| My top 10
- SEVEN FALLS – TUCSON
- CAMELBACK – PHOENIX
- TOMB’S THUMB – PHOENIX
- BLUE MESA – PETRIFIED FOREST
- SUNRISE PEAK TRAIL – FOUNTAIN HILLS
- WEST FORK TRAIL – SEDONA
- BRIGHT ANGEL TRAIL – GRAND CANYON
- MOUNT HUMPHREY – FLAGSTAFF
- SALOME JUG – SALOME CREEK
- BOB BEAR TRAILHEAD / FOSSIL CREEK – STRAWBERRY
Nature and hiking lovers? I’d like to share with you some important details to know before you hit the road for a hike in Arizona.
Hiking in Arizona during the summer
Summer in Arizona is synonymous with extreme heat. It is true that we reach 50 degrees Celsius after spring. The best season for hiking in Arizona is winter, and early spring. At the time of writing this article, it’s the end of March and it’s already 28 degrees, that’s to tell you! So, think before you hit the road for hikes in the middle of summer, many hikers have lost their lives on these trails. If you decide to hike in Arizona during the summer, here are some tips:
- Drink liters of fresh water so as not to be dehydrated
- Have food like cereal bars or fruit.
- Leave at dawn to avoid the overwhelming heat
- Prefer hikes with water points to cool off
- Do not take your dog (their pads burn on the heat of the ground)
That’s it, I warned you adventurer.ère! Now it’s time to discover my top 10 hikes in Arizona.
#1 SEVEN FALLS – TUCSON
Long, scenic, warm, intermediate
Distance: 13 km or 7km by tram
- Duration: 4 hours
- Price: $5 per day
The first six water passages are grouped on a 1km stretch. I highly recommend checking the water levels before your adventure. During the monsoon season from June to September, the trail can be inaccessible and flash floods are a reality in the desert. So double-check. The route is well signposted, you will have no difficulty following the trail.
Namely:you can walk or take a tram ($4) to the beginning of the trail (do not take you to the waterfalls at the end of the course which are only accessible on foot).
To conclude if you take the tram, bring money! There is an ATM inside the gift shop located in the starting car park (beware of commissions at the counter).
My opinion: I really love that they have this option. Taking the tram reduces the hike by half, which is only 7km one way and 7km back. This is very handy if you are short on time or don’t want to commit to a 13km hike. If you take the tram, make sure you know the schedule of the last one (link). Otherwise, you’ll be back on foot!
#2 CAMELBACK – PHOENIX
Short, very difficult, panoramic
- Distance:2km round trip
- Duration:2-3 hours round trip
- Price: Free
The Echo Canyon Trail and the Cholla Trail are two hiking trails that are considered extremely challenging. Indeed, you have to climb half the time with the strength of your arms and hands. Nevertheless, dogs are prohibited in all areas of Echo Canyon and Cholla Trail which is closed at the moment (April 2021).
Let’s talk about the Echo Canyontrail.
It’s a steep, rocky climb that requires climbing to reach the top, but the 360-degree view is worth it. The Echo Canyon Trail is considered a more difficult climb than the Cholla Trail. Some portions are so steep that it is necessary to climb with a rope.
My opinion: A difficult trail with a joy to climb the rocks, and as a bonus an incredible view of Phoenix and its surroundings. I recommend!
#3 TOMB’S THUMB – PHOENIX
Challenging, overlooking view
- Distance : 6.4km
- Duration: 80-90 minutes
- Price: Free
The Tomb’s Thumb Trail is a winding trail. First, if you want to venture on this trail, you’ll have an incredible view of the Mcdowell Mountains and the city of Phoenix. The trail is managed and supervised by volunteers from the association by McDowell Sonoran Conservancy of Scottsdale. On the other hand, there is no water at the beginning of the trail, so bring plenty to stay hydrated.
My opinion: It was one of my first trails in Arizona. I found the hike quite complicated but the view is worth the detour!
#4 BLUE MESA – PETRIFIED FOREST
- Distance: 1.6 km loop
- Starting point:Blue Mesa solar shelter
- Price: Entrance fee to the national park
Blue Mesa Trail is located in the Petrified Forest National Park. Once at the starting point, you will find a trail that alternates between gravel and tar. A steep slope is at the beginning and at the end, fast but tiring!
This trail offers you a unique experience of walking among the bluish clay hills as well as petrified wood. Many plant and animal fossils have been discovered by paleontologists in the sedimentary layers of Blue Mesa.
My opinion: This trail is very easy, to find yourself facing the immensity of nature and petrified wood. A must do!
#5 SUNRISE TRAIL
- Distance: 8km
- Starting point:Water fountain, N 145th Way, Scottsdale, AZ 85259
Sunrise Trail is a trail located near Fountain Hills. It offers panoramic views at each new bend with a gentle but permanageous climb. You will reach a stage viewpoint at 2 km, beyond which the ascent intensifies. The summit offers varied vistas, including the 4 Peaks Wilderness, Superstition Wilderness, Fountain Hills, South Mountain, Camelback and the nearby peaks of the McDowell Range.
My opinion: This trail is perfect for intermediate hikers. A bit of coast at the end and an incredible view awaits you. One of my most beautiful discoveries around Phoenix.
#6 West Fork Trail
Intermediate, fun, poetic
- Distance: 3km or 14km
- Duration: 2-3 hours
- Price: $11 per car
There are a number of reasons why West Fork is one of the most popular trails in the Coconino National Forest. Once you’ve walked along the pleasant little stream that undulates along the canyon, look up at the vertiginous cliffs that dominate it, you’ll fall in love with it. West Fork is fantastic throughout the year. In the spring, songbirds adorn the trees. In autumn, the canyon is adorned with its most beautiful colors with red and golden leaves floating in transparent pools. In winter, ice cubes deal with red rocks. You’ll probably find a new reason to be here every time you visit. As for the trail itself, it’s an easy walk, but you have to cross the stream in several places. Usually, this involves negotiating a few strategic jumps or taking a few steps in shallow water. The trail is marked and maintained for the first three kilometers.
My opinion: I.N.C.R.O.There.Has.B.L.E, this hike is breathtaking, but beware there is not much parking space so I strongly advise you to get up early!
#7 BRIGHT ANGEL
Long, Amazing, Secure
- Distance:20km round trip
- Duration: 4-5 hours to the campsite
- Price: Grand Canyon Park Entrance Fee $30 per car
Motivated for your first big hike to the Grand Canyon? So let me introduce you to Bright Angel Trail. It is considered the first hiking trail in the park to have seen the light of day. Well maintained, with regular drinking water points and covered refuges, this is the safest trail in the Grand Canyon. There is a ranger station located halfway down the trail (Indian Garden) and one at the bottom of the canyon (Bright Angel Campground). In hot weather, I advise you to do this trail because you can find drinking water, regular shade and emergency phones on the way.
My opinion: Definitely a must do if you are looking for a hike to the Grand Canyon however I do not recommend doing it in a single day! Make a stop at the campsite for the night.
#8 MOUNT HUMPHREY’S
Very long, elevation, scenic
- Duration: 6h
- Distance : 16km
- Price: Free (during the winter), they can be obtained on Saturdays and Sundays at the Agassiz Lodge.
Go to the highest peak in Arizona! Discover Humphrey’s Summit Trail.
It starts at the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort at 2845m above sea level to the summit which rises to 3850m. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the north edge of the Grand Canyon. Beware of afternoon thunderstorms during the summer months, which is why it’s best to start your hikes early in the morning.
#9 SALOME JUG
LONG, DIFFICULT, FUN
- Difficulty: Extremely difficult for beginners in hiking, it is necessary to have a good physical condition.
- Duration: 5/6h
- Price: Free
The Jug is a course including a long trail and a canyoning part. In fact, it includes water slides and a 10m jump from a waterfall at the end. (Warning: if you are not ready to make the final jump, do not venture into the canyon, there is no return possible so you have to take your courage with both hands and jump).
Indication: Once you have approached the canyon, its entrance is not well signposted. To be able to start the canyoning part, you need to open the fence for cattle blocking the trail. Once you reach the recognizable trail with its red earth, stay left. it is the entrance to the Canyon. However, if you go to the right, it brings you to the exit of the canyon without going through the aquatic part. In addition, both paths lead you to the same end point. This allows for example a group to separate if some want to make the jump and others do not.
My opinion: It is by far one of my favorite trails with its water course in the middle of a canyon and close to Lake Rosevelt. I strongly advise you to do this hike in May/June.
#10 FOSSIL CREEK
LONG | SCENIC
- Distance: 6km
- Duration: 3h
- Price: $6 or free out of season
Bob Bear Trailhead is the name of the trail, but you will easily find the destination by indicating the name of the cove: Fossil Creek.
In the first place the trail is located near the town of Strawberry. The trail descends for 6km into the canyon. The trail offers an amazing scenic experience but it is steep and extremely hot during the summer. It rewards you with access to one of Arizona’s most spectacular aquatic areas. There is no water or shade for the first 3.75 kilometers of the trail. The Bob Bear Trail is accessible via Fossil Creek Road from the town of Strawberry.
However, a permit is required to park your vehicle in the trail departure area from April 1st to October 1st. This is why during this season, a maximum of one permit per person per calendar month can be reserved (one permit = one day). Permits are available on the first of the month, one month in advance. Permits are not required from October 2 to March 31.
My opinion: Amazing hike all the way, once you get to the cove, take time and regain strength. However when you go for a dip, be careful not to jump into the bowl, many have lost their lives. Finally only experienced swimmers will have enough strength to get to the caves below the waterfall.
Finally LEAVE NO TRACE! This is an aspect that is important to me. We see far too much garbage on the edge of our wonderful trails so I leave you with theArizona Dream article to learn how to leave no trace behind.