One of the most incredible states to hike in, Arizona is filled with hiking trails ranging from easy, to moderate, to difficult. The landscape in Arizona is unlike any other I’ve seen before which makes it unique for hiking. Instead of tree-lined trails and snow-topped mountains (like you might find in Washington); in Arizona, you’re standing in front of red rock buttes jutting into the sky. Here are some of the best hikes in Arizona that I discovered while living there as a travel nurse.
4 of the Best Hikes in Arizona
1. Camelback Mountain – Phoenix
If you’re hiking in Phoenix, Camelback is not to be missed. Located near Scottsdale Camelback overlooks the sprawling city below. While you can’t park at the trailhead there is free street parking located less than a mile away (if you’re early enough). The trailhead starts near a residential neighborhood so there is security monitoring people coming and going and as of now you aren’t allowed to be picked up or dropped off at the trailhead. Plan for the hike to take at least a few hours depending on how quickly you climb.
When hiking Camelback there are two separate trails to choose from – Echo Canyon Trail or Cholla Trail. Echo Canyon Trail is 2.4 miles with an elevation gain of 1,400+ feet. If you instead choose Cholla Trail, plan to hike 2.6 miles with an elevation gain of 1,100+ feet. Both of these hikes are rated as “hard” on AllTrails.
2. Devil’s Bridge Trail – Sedona
Out of the best hikes in Sedona, Devil’s Bridge may take the cake. Located in Coconino National Forest in Sedona, AZ; Devil’s Bridge is less about the challenge and more about the scenery. Once you reach Devil’s Bridge expect there to be a line if you want to walk out on the bridge and snap a picture. In my experience, people are generally patient and willing to take a picture for you if you ask. And don’t worry, the bridge is quite wide!
When choosing Sedona hikes, keep in mind that if you choose Devil’s Bridge it’s less for the workout and more for the scenery. Plus it’s quite popular so expect it to be crowded. This trail is 4.2 miles with an elevation gain of 500+ feet. It is rated as moderate on AllTrails.
Plan on visiting Sedona? Read this post for more information on things to see and do while in town!
3. Lost Dutchman State Park – Apache Junction
Named after an old western tale, Lost Dutchman State Park has 6 different hiking trails (Native Plant Trail, Treasure Loop Trail, Prospector’s View Trail, Jacob’s Crosscut Trail, Siphon Draw Trail, Discovery Trail) – all ranging from easy to difficult. The park is located in the Sonoran Desert at the base of the Superstition Mountains. The reason I enjoy Lost Dutchman State Park so much is because of the ghost town – Goldfield Ghost Town – nearby. If you visit the ghost town there are restaurants, bars, and kitsch souvenir shops open.
If you’re going to hike in this park, the fee to enter is $7-$10 depending on the day and time of year. You also have the ability to camp or rent out a cabin.
4. Wave Cave Trail – Gold Canyon
For Arizona hiking, the Wave Cave is quintessential Arizona. Climbing up on rocks and through cacti, you’ll find the Wave Cave Trail in the Superstition Mountains. As the trail begins it’s a flat and easy walk until you near the cave. Once you get closer to the cave the incline steepens.
The Wave Cave is a 3.2-mile hike with an elevation gain of 800+ feet. This trail is rated as moderate on AllTrails. As far as parking goes… if you choose to park in the more convenient parking lot (closer to the Wave Cave trailhead), there is a fee. You can’t purchase a permit onsite, you must do so ahead of time online. If you don’t want to pay a fee, you can instead park in the Lost Goldmine East Trailhead but the distance is further and it’s harder to navigate to the Wave Cave.
Arizona hiking trails are plentiful in this incredible state. To keep in mind, if hiking in Arizona beware of the time of year you’re planning to do so. The summers are incredibly hot and you don’t want to get into a situation where you become dehydrated on the mountain. Bear in mind that it’s best to explore the outdoors in the cooler months.
Did I miss any of the best Arizona hikes? Let me know your opinion in the comments below!