Only have half a day or can you hike for a full week? With hundreds of hiking trails available here’s what we would do to have the best hiking vacations in Arizona based on your length of travel.
You will find trips ranging from short, easy loops in the heart of the city to multiple-day treks through remote wilderness areas.
Grand Canyon hiking is a favorite for both family trips and expert expeditions, but there are also hiking trails at countless other sites, including many of Arizona’s national parks, monuments and recreation areas.
Stunning natural features and vibrant scenery make Arizona the perfect location for vacation hiking through the great outdoors. Whether you wish to climb desert mesas or hike along mountain streams; stroll lakeside paths or explore historical cultural ruins, you will fall in love with vacationing throughout Arizona’s hiking trails.
Best hiking vacations in Arizona…if you have ½ day free to hike and explore.
Camelback Mountain (Phoenix):
This is the best-known hiking destination in the Valley. It’s unique in the sense that you have an amazing mountain hike right in the middle of the city. Unfortunately due to its popularity Camelback Mountain is also one of the busiest and crowded trails in the area. There are 2 hiking trails, Echo Canyon and Cholla. Both trails are rated as moderately difficult; Echo Canyon is steeper and Cholla is a slightly longer trail. Towering 1,400 feet above its base, Camelback characterizes the shape of a gigantic camel that appears to be admiring the amazing views across the Valley below.
Tom’s Thumb, North Side (Scottsdale):
This 4.2-mile trail is moderately difficult and weaves in and out of gorgeous vegetation providing breathtaking views of Phoenix Four Peaks and Camelback Mountain. The most interesting feature of this hiking trail is the iconic Tom’s Thumb, a large granite bump on the McDowell mountain range. Insure to check out Ogre’s Den, a natural cave-featuring rock art located off below and to the West of the Thumb. The summit offers the best viewpoint in the McDowell Mountains, with extensive views east and west.
Bell Rock/Courthouse Butte Loop Trail (Sedona):
This is the best and most popular introduction to Sedona’s myriad of red-rock hiking opportunities. This is an easy 4-mile loop hike that provides great views on every turn. The trail begins directly on Arizona 179 in the Village of Oak Creek, which is only a few miles south of Sedona. The colorful scenery and terraced landscape will amaze! Unfortunately there are plenty of other hikers, too.
The Seven Falls Trail (Tucson):
There is something irresistible about waterfalls in the desert, and on this trail you get more than enough falls to satisfy any craving to cool off on a hot desert day. The Seven Falls Trail is in the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area in northeast Tucson. The 7.8 mile out and back Seven Falls hike is a must if you are in the Tucson area and are looking for half-day excursion.
Best hiking vacations in Arizona…if you have 1 day free to hike and explore.
Peralta Trail (east of Phoenix in the Superstition Mountains):
The Peralta Trail is located on the southwest edge of the Superstition Wilderness. It stretches 6.2 miles through two diversely vegetated canyons highlighted by Weavers Needle, a 4,553′ spire that towers over the landscape. The trail begins at the mouth of Peralta Canyon and climbs steadily on a rugged, heavily vegetated path. Oak and mesquite cover portions of the trail along the canyon’s seasonally flowing creek. The trail follows Boulder Canyon Creek past several backcountry campsites, which are generally located in level pockets of vegetation by the creek. The trail leads to the Peralta – Dutchman Trail junction on the floor of Boulder Canyon. Return the way you came.
The South Kaibab Trail (Grand Canyon South Rim):
The South Kaibab Trail offers better views than the Bright Angel trail and has much less traffic. It is great for day hikers and is the preferred downhill route for anyone heading to Phantom Ranch for the night. This is a strenuous hike even if you go only a mile or so down the trail. Remember, the trip back is all up-hill, and you should plan on taking twice as long up as it did to go down.
Reavis Ranch Trail (east of Phoenix in the Superstition Mountains):
This is a pleasant hike through the Eastern Superstitions and takes the southern section of the Reavis Ranch Trail northbound to the old abandoned Reavis Ranch homestead. From Rogers Trough trailhead take the Reavis Ranch trail north into Rogers Canyon. This will be downhill as you pass the West Pinto Trail. At about 5.5 miles you’ll cross the creek and at 6 miles arrive at the Fire Line trail intersection. From here you quickly enter the main meadow on which the ranch is located. There is an abundance of camping spots in this popular area. This is the turn around point and a great place to explore the apple orchards and the many scenic spots along the creek for a well-deserved lunch break.
Best hiking vacations in Arizona…if you have 2 days free to hike and explore.
Boulder Canyon Trail to Labarge Canyon: (Canyon Lake)
This trail offers stunning hills, rocky streams, panoramic views and an abandoned mine, finishing in a box canyon with an enticing swimming hole and a few campsites.
Day 1: Start east on Boulder Canyon Trail 103 for 3.5 miles until you reach Labarge creek, head off trail along creek for 1 mile until you reach Labarge box canyon and swimming hole. Camp.
Day 2: Backtrack upstream until you reach Trail 103 and reach Canyon Lake trailhead, 4.5 miles.
Best hiking vacations in Arizona…if you have 3 days free to hike and explore.
Superstition Mountains: (east of Phoenix)
Situated 50 miles east of Phoenix, AZ, this wilderness region is one of the best hiking areas within an hour’s drive of any major city in the USA. Ranging in elevation from 2000 to 6265 feet, the Superstition Wilderness Area has over 160,000 acres protected as a National Forest. Formed by volcanic eruptions 30 million years ago, the Superstition Mountains are home to impressive rock walls, jagged hoodoos of rock, and narrow twisting canyons As one of Arizona’s most rugged ranges, the Superstitions offer many miles of hiking, on designated trails.
Day 1: Start at Rogers Trough Trailhead. Begin north on Reavis Ranch Trail (109) for 1.6 miles to junction; turn east on Roger’s Canyon Trail (110) for 2.5 miles to arrive at Salado Cliff Dwellings. Camp.
Day 2: Continue 1 mile east on trail 110 to Fire line trail, heading north for 7 miles to turn west on trail 109 for 2 miles to Reavis Ranch. Camp.
Day 3: Continue 7 miles south on trail 109 back to Rogers Trough trailhead.
Best hiking vacations in Arizona…if you have 4 days free to hike and explore.
Havasupai Falls Trail in the Grand Canyon: (Hualapai Hilltop)
Hualapai Hilltop can be reached at the end of Indian Road 18, which is 65 miles north of Route 66.
Havasupai Falls is often called the Shangri-la of the Grand Canyon. You can hike, camp or just soak up the sun and swim around in these beautiful falls where rushing water spills from red cliffs into brilliant aquamarine pools.
Havasu Canyon is a paradise nestled deep within the Canyon. Havasu Falls is an area of towering red walls, turquoise-colored travertine pools, and stunning cascades. There are many waterfalls and the aquamarine colored streams lined with giant cottonwoods thrive below the shade of the majestic red sandstone walls.
Day 1: Hike 10 miles and descend 5200ft into the Grand Canyon, reaching Havasupai and its majestic waterfalls. Camp.
Day 2: Relax in Havasupai campground and explore the 3 major waterfalls in the area: New Navajo Falls, Rock Falls and Havasu Falls.
Day 3: Relax in Havasupai campground and explore the wonders of the Colorado River on the Grand Canyon floor beneath the falls.
Day 4: Hike 10 miles and ascend the 5200ft vertical gain out of Grand Canyon.
Best hiking vacations in Arizona…if you have unlimited days free to hike and explore.
You can even hike the Arizona Trail, a National Scenic Trail that forms a meandering 800-mile path from Mexico to Utah.