Before moving to Arizona, I didn’t care about the outdoors. I always tell people this, but my first camping trip to the Grand Canyon consisted of air mattresses and fajita bowls. I was a city slicker at heart. It wasn’t until after college that I started hiking and camping without an air mattress. Today, I’m the Founder of the women’s adventure group Mountain Chicks and work as a freelance photographer for outdoor brands.
I feel as though I owe a debt to Arizona. If it weren’t for this place, I wouldn’t be traveling and adventuring! I would consider myself a “seasoned” hiker of the desert. I’ve been to some great trails in AZ, and I love showing them off. Below is a compiled list of hikes I’ve come to love in this state. I think you would like them too. Here are four trails to try when you visit Arizona.
I have hike Cathedral Rock multiple times now, and it has quickly become one of my favorite Arizona sunset spots. This hike requires some scrambling and might not be the best for beginners, but if you’re willing to make the trek, it’s worth the view! On my most recent trip there, I had the chance to kick back and watch the orange glow come through like no other. Cathedral Rock is one of the best Arizona hikes in my opinion.
As with all hikes in the desert, please make sure you bring water along! I’ve recently discovered PathWater, who makes reusable aluminum bottles rather than plastic ones. They’re on a mission to reduce plastic waste and have made it their goal to host monthly beach cleanups! PathWater’s aluminum bottles and lightweight, making them an excellent option for hiking trails like Cathedral rock. You can learn more about their mission here.
West Fork Trail
Another Sedona hike I love is West Fork Trail. This trail will take you through some of Arizona’s greener parts and the creek. It’s one of my favorite Arizona hikes with water. The Oak Creek Canyon is a beauty! West Fork can also double as a backpacking trail. With a permit, you can hike past the creek and camp there for the night. The hike itself is easy, but very popular. If you’re going to go on this trail, I suggest going early! It can also serve as a great Arizona hike for beginners.
Boulder Canyon is a hike I’ve taken groups on via the Mountain Chicks Arizona hiking group. It brings you to a beautiful part of the Superstition Mountains that has more layers than the best cake in the bakery. There are multiple vista points along Boulder Canyon, and you can make this an out and back hike. The out and back will be an alternative to the backpacking trail most usually make it. The Superstition Mountains are a vast mountain range near Phoenix Arizona, so if you’re visiting the area, this hike would be an excellent option for you.
Barnhardt is another Arizona trail with water. During our rainy season, the canyon creates a waterfall that lights up the red rock walls. This trail is near Payson, Arizona which serves as an alternative to other Northern AZ destinations. Along the hike, you can expect to see the desert and PNW vibes come together.
As with all hikes, make sure you pack appropriately and stay hydrated! You can read more about my hiking checklist here, and you can find PathWater products here. Leave a comment below and let me know which one of these hikes you would try first!
Dani is the Founder of Mountain Chicks and the primary author of the Mtn Chicks Blog. Here you'll find outdoor tips, travel experiences, gear reviews and more.