As I grew older, I quickly realized the desert around Phoenix, Arizona, was beautiful, and if you drove just two hours away, you had a plethora of scenic places to explore. From red rocks to saguaros, and hidden gems, I found the best hikes in Arizona. As my understanding of the desert grew, my view of Arizona changed. I realized there are some fantastic Arizona day hikes to crush when you set your mind to it. Below are some of my favorite Arizona hiking treks – both hard and easy.
The best hiking trails in Arizona: Day hikes I recommend
Flatiron – Superstition Mountains
Arguably, Phoenix’s most demanding and most popular hike (if that were a Venn Diagram). Flatiron is about 50 minutes outside of Phoenix in Lost Dutchman State Park. They have an entrance fee, but it’s worth it for the hiking views. The six-mile round-trip trail gets you 2,500 feet above the desert floor, and you’ll love soaking up the views from the top. I recommend this to people visiting as one of the best hiking trails in Arizona.
- Keep an eye out for the blue and white dots. They will help direct you.
- Also, keep left as you make your way up.
- There’s a 10-foot rock wall to scale near the top. Nothing complicated, but take your time.
Humphrey’s Peak – Coconino National Forest
Humphrey’s Peak is the tallest point in Arizona, standing 12,600 feet tall. The peak resides above the Snowbowl Ski Resort and is accessible year-round, though the traditional hiking season is June through October. If you’re looking for a good litmus test of how strong you are, here’s one of the best hiking trails in Arizona.
Tips for this summit:
- Start early, so you’re off the summit when afternoon thunderstorms appear
- Bring a change of clothes and change at the top
- Please bring plenty of water AND drink it. This is the best way to beat the elevation
- If you feel sick, stop and rest. If it doesn’t get better, head down.
- If you’re hiking in May or June, microspikes are a good idea.
Cathedral Rock – Sedona
One of the most popular hikes in Sedona, which means you’ll want to arrive early (where’s my sunrise people at?) or show up for sunset. I’d HIGHLY recommend staying away during the mid-day as the parking lot is small and the likelihood of getting parking is small. The trail is easy to follow, though it has some steep/slick rock sections halfway up. Other than a couple of spots, it’s suitable for the entire family!
Cathedra Rock Tips:
- Keep going around the bend to the spires/vortex
- This is an excellent place for astrophotography, too
- Definitely one of the best hikes in Arizona
South Kaibab to Skeleton Point – Grand Canyon National Park
I’ve always said, “the best way to appreciate the Grand Canyon is to get down into it.” While I honestly love hiking to the bottom, not everyone has the ability or time, so any hike is reasonable. Most people will go down South Bright Angel trail as it’s closer to the hotel and shops, but South Kaibab offers a more expansive and natural canyon view for an Arizona day hike. You’ll feel the burn on the way up, but it is worth it and one of the best hikes in Arizona.
Grand Canyon Tips:
- Sunrise and Sunset will be spectacular and also keep the heat to a minimum
- There’s no water on this trail, so bring what you need
- Remember, every step-down means you have to hike back up
- The summer heat can be brutal. I don’t recommend doing it during peak hours.
- It’s one of the best hiking trails in Arizona because you beat the crowds. Now go for it!
BONUS Best hikes in Arizona: Paria Canyon/Buckskin Gulch – Vermillion Cliffs National Monument
This one isn’t technically in Arizona, but it’s literally on the border of Arizona/Utah. It’s a GEM of a place. It’s the only slot canyon on public lands in the area, with many others controlled by Native Tribes. Access it can be somewhat confusing as there’s a Buckskin Gulch trailhead. This is not the best spot as it’s a further hike. Keep driving into Wire Pass Trailhead. From here, you’ll have a mile walk to the slot canyon. (FYI: This is also the trailhead for The Wave.) You’ll love this and also view it as one of the best hikes in Arizona.
Buckskin Gulch Tips:
- Keep an eye on the weather. Rain can equal disaster in the slot canyons while Arizona hiking.
- Please practice Leave No Trace.
- The time of day will affect your photos.
- Most cars should be able to make it down to the trailhead. Higher clearance obviously will be more comfortable/more straightforward.
Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.
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