Now that spring is almost upon us, the hiking boots come out, and your feet start itching for your first hike of the season. Whether you’re a beginner or keen hiker, Arizona offers a selection of walks to spoil you. In this article, you will get your pick of the top 5 hikes Arizona has to offer. To heck, why pick just one when, with careful planning, you can enjoy all of them. Remember hiking is physically challenging and requires some preparation before heading out. Always ensure someone knows where you’re hiking, pack enough water to keep your hydration up and some snacks for energy. Go on and read the rest of the article and find out which five spots we recommend.
1. Camelback MountainLocated in the middle of Phoenix Valley and offering breathtaking views all the way to the summit, Camelback Mountain is a must for any avid hiker.
Ideal for intermediate hikers, the 2,704 feet elevation is worth the effort as it rewards you with some breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
Easily accessible from Scottsdale, Phoenix, and Paradise Valley, Camelback Mountain suits you, whether you’re a local or a tourist passing through.
Two hiking trails take you to the summit of Camelback Mountain, Echo Canyon or Cholla.
The Echo Canyon trail is quite intense with steep sections which will test your fitness. The path is well-marked and railings in place for support in the most challenging areas.
On the other hand, although less intense, the Cholla trail is longer. The benefits far outweigh the extra distance to hike. You will enjoy beautiful views of Scottsdale and Phoenix. If watching the sunrise is your thing, Cholla offers the perfect opportunity to do so. If you visit in the right season, you may also enjoy watching wildlife including hawks and quails plus others.
2. Grand Canyon
Bright Angel Trail
The Grand Canyon National Park offers an impressive selection of hiking routes you’d need an entire year to hike them all. Grand Canyon hikes split into the North and South rim hikes. The Grand Canyon National Park website offers stark advice every hiker should know, and it’s that there are no easy hikes in the Grand Canyon. You can complete some hikes on the same day. If you’re hardcore, you can choose the rim-to-rim trek which takes you from the North to South Rim or vice-versa.
The most popular hike on the South Rim is the Bright Angel Trail. The trailhead is close to popular hotels which offer easy access to the trail.
If you’re looking for an introduction canyon hiking, then Bright Angel offers a tough but friendly starting point. If you’re short on time but would still like to enjoy a bit of the Grand Canyon, the 1.5 Mile Resthouse or the 3 Mile Resthouse offer suitable turning points. You will need between 4 and 6 hours for either turning point.
Going all the way to the bottom of the Bright Angel Trail ensures you make the most of the South Rim views, including hiking within throwing distance of the mighty Colorado River. The Indian Garden Campground marks the midpoint of the trail. Continuing from there you will end up at the Bright Angel Suspension bridge over the Colorado River across which is the campground.
3. South Kaibab TrailThis near 15-mile round trip hike offers a 360-degree vista of the surrounding canyon and offers one of the best opportunities to enjoy the Grand Canyon over a couple of days. Strenuous in places, the hike is a challenge, but the rewards are worth it. Most people who endure it describe it as one of the most rewarding experiences they’ve enjoyed.
The South Kaibab Trail is the most direct descent onto the Grand Canyon floor and has its trailhead at Yaki Point, and you have to get a shuttle bus to get there. There is no access for private vehicles to the South Kaibab Trail.
Points of interest along the trail include Ooh-Aah Point, Cedar Ridge, and Skeleton Point. Ooh-Aah Point and Cedar Ridge are ideal turning points for day hikers or beginner and intermediate hikers. Skeleton Point gives you the first glimpses of the river.
The trail ends at the Kaibab Suspension Bridge, and from thereon you head to the Bright Angel Campground and Phantom Ranch for overnight camping.
Devil’s Bridge TrailWith over thirty trails to choose from in Sedona, there’s only one trail which stands head and shoulders above them all. Devil’s Bridge is perfect if you’re short on time but still want to experience some of the most spectacular views Sedona has to offer. The trail falls in the intermediate difficulty category by every step of the 2-mile round-trip is worth it.
The Devil’s Bridge is Sedona’s most prominent sandstone arch and is not for the faint-hearted. A scenic trail that requires some effort, it will lead you to jaw-dropping and incredible views, indeed some of the very best in this part of the state.
If you struggle with the hike at any point, there are numerous vast open areas and rock formations to admire while you catch a breath. Hiking is a physical activity, and you’ll no doubt find it hard-going in places where scrambling over rocks is unavoidable.
Two trailheads lead to the Devil’s Bridge, a 2-mile round-trip from the main parking lot or a longer 6-mile round-trip from the less accessible
5. Dry Creek Vista Trailhead
Soldier Pass Hiking Trail
Situated in the Coconino National Forest, Soldier pass is a spectacular trail suitable for beginners due to its moderate elevation. This trail packs a fantastic array of naturally formed features within a short 2-mile stretch (the trail is a 4-mile round-trip).
There is a limit to the number of car parking space at the Soldier Pass trailhead, so we recommend early arrival. An easy to moderate difficulty trail, it offers a scenic escape peppered with unusual canyon formations.
Notable natural sandstone formations include Devil’s Kitchen, a sinkhole with a large sandstone boulder balancing next to it. 0.25 miles further up the trail, you’ll come across the “Seven Sacred Pools” carved in the stone by water run-off. Shortly after, the Soldier’s Arch comes into view leading on to the 509 feet ascent to Brins Mesa.
With so many hiking options available in Arizona, we have picked the Top 5 hikes we think everyone should try. The Grand Canyon is a vast expanse of spectacular landscape, and you may spend an entire lifetime here, and there’ll still be more to see. Always remember to plan your hike, ensuring everyone in your party carries enough water. Dressing appropriately and taking necessary precautions will help ensure you make the most of your hiking experience.