Arizona is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes and diverse natural wonders. From the iconic Grand Canyon to the stunning red rocks of Sedona, the state offers an abundance of hiking trails that allow you to immerse yourself in its awe-inspiring beauty. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner looking for an outdoor adventure, Arizona has something for everyone. In this guide, we’ll take you through the best hiking trails in Arizona, showcasing the state’s unique scenery, historic ruins, and hidden gems.
Exploring the Grand Canyon: Bright Angel Trail and the Rim Trail
No hiking adventure in Arizona is complete without a visit to the Grand Canyon. As one of the most popular national parks in the United States, the Grand Canyon offers a variety of trails for all skill levels. One of the must-visit trails is the Bright Angel Trail, which descends from the South Rim into the canyon, offering awe-inspiring views of the mighty Colorado River. With a total distance of 18 miles (29km) round trip, this trail is challenging but rewarding. It is important to note that hiking the entire trail in one day is not advised, and it is recommended to take advantage of the water stops along the way.
For those looking for a more leisurely hike with stunning views, the Rim Trail is the perfect choice. This trail runs along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, providing easy and accessible hiking options for all visitors. With a total distance of 13 miles (21km), the Rim Trail offers beautiful vistas of the inner canyon and is mostly paved, making it suitable for wheelchair adventurers as well.
Discovering Sedona’s Natural Wonders: Cathedral Rock and Devil’s Bridge
Sedona is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, with its unique red rock formations and vibrant landscapes. One of the must-visit hiking trails in Sedona is Cathedral Rock. This moderate hike takes you through a trail that switches between easy and difficult sections, with some rock scrambling required. The end of the trail leads to a saddle between two impressive peaks, offering breathtaking views of Bell Rock and the Mogollon Rim.
Another iconic hike in Sedona is Devil’s Bridge, known for its stunning sandstone arch. This relatively easy hike takes you to the arch, allowing you to walk across and enjoy the dramatic landscape that stretches for miles. It is recommended to arrive early, as the trailhead parking fills up quickly.
Exploring Slot Canyons: Antelope Canyon and The Wave
Arizona is home to some of the most mesmerizing slot canyons in the world. Antelope Canyon, located near Page, offers a truly otherworldly experience. This short but spectacular walk takes you through the impeccable sandstone structures, with their exquisite patterns and contrasting light beams. Guided tours are required to visit Antelope Canyon, and it is best to plan your visit between the end of March and early October for the best chance to see the iconic light beams.
Another extraordinary hiking experience awaits at The Wave, located in Coyote Buttes. This unique sandstone formation resembles a swirling wave frozen in time. Permits are required to hike to The Wave, and they can be obtained through a lottery system. It is recommended to apply for permits well in advance or try for a daily permit if you are in the area.
Enjoying Scenic Hikes in Phoenix: Camelback Mountain and Tom’s Thumb Trail
Phoenix, the capital of Arizona, offers a variety of hiking trails for outdoor enthusiasts. One of the most popular hikes in Phoenix is Camelback Mountain via the Echo Canyon Trail. This relatively short but challenging hike ascends rapidly to the summit, offering dramatic views of the desert landscape and Scottsdale. It is important to bring plenty of water to stay hydrated during the hike.
For a scenic hike in Phoenix with panoramic views, Tom’s Thumb Trail is an excellent choice. This moderate to difficult hike takes you to the summit of Tom’s Thumb, providing breathtaking views of the valley below. The trail features switchbacks and rocky terrain, making it a rewarding adventure for those seeking a challenge.
Chasing Waterfalls in Arizona: Seven Falls and Bear Canyon Trail
While Arizona is often associated with arid landscapes, the state is also home to stunning waterfalls that make for unforgettable hiking experiences. One of the best waterfall hikes in Arizona is the Bear Canyon Trail in Tucson. This moderately difficult hike offers views of seven waterfalls, with diverse sights along the way. It is important to pack plenty of water, as there is little shade along the 8-mile hike. Once you reach Seven Falls, you can swim, bathe, and jump in the pristine aqua waters, creating lasting memories.
Immerse Yourself in Monument Valley: Wildcat Trail and Horseshoe Bend
Monument Valley is a captivating destination that transports you to the Old West. One of the best hikes in Monument Valley is the Wildcat Trail, which offers a self-guided trek through the iconic rock buttes. With a distance of 4 miles (6.4km), this easy hike provides striking scenery and a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich history and culture of the Navajo Tribal Park.
Horseshoe Bend, located in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, may be a short hike, but its summit view is nothing short of spectacular. The iconic overlook allows you to gaze down at the breathtaking bend of the Colorado River, offering a truly unforgettable experience. The newly renovated trail also provides accessibility for wheelchair users, with a specific viewing point overlooking the rim.
Discovering Hidden Gems: Kachina Trail and Broken Arrow Trail
Arizona is full of hidden gems that offer unique hiking experiences. The Kachina Trail in Flagstaff takes you through epic aspen groves and offers breathtaking views of the San Francisco Peaks. With a distance of 10.2 miles (16.4km), this moderate hike showcases the diverse landscapes and high elevation of the area.
The Broken Arrow Trail in Sedona is another hidden gem that offers a mix of easy and moderate hiking. This trail takes you through brush and junipers before reaching the stunning red rock tablelands. Along the way, you’ll pass the Devil’s Dining Room, a sinkhole formed by the disintegration of underground caverns. The turnaround point of the trail offers panoramic views of the Munds Mountain Wilderness, creating the perfect backdrop for a memorable lunch spot.
Arizona’s hiking trails offer an incredible opportunity to explore the state’s diverse landscapes and natural wonders. From the iconic Grand Canyon to the stunning slot canyons and hidden gems, Arizona has something for every hiker. Whether you’re seeking challenging hikes, scenic vistas, or waterfall adventures, Arizona’s trails will leave you in awe of the Southwest’s beauty. So pack your hiking gear, grab plenty of water, and embark on an unforgettable hiking journey through Arizona’s breathtaking wilderness.