Arizona is a state that known for its picturesque natural beauty and one of the ways that locals like to take advantage of their surroundings is by getting outside and exploring the land. Beginners, don’t be scared! Check out a few
shorter hikes in Arizona to prepare for these amazing journeys. While there are many different treks to travel, here are 9 of the best, more challenging treks that all hiking enthusiasts in Arizona must try!
1. Camelback Mountain, Phoenix
If you want to tackle one of Phoenix’s most iconic mountains, be sure to hike either the Cholla Trail or Camelback Mountain Summit Trail. These hikes are not long; the Cholla Trail is just over three miles long, but can be rigorous for beginners. It leads to some pretty fantastic views!
The Camelback Mountain Summit Trail is slightly less intense, about 2.5 miles long, and accommodates the more casual hiker (especially on the lower sections), but you will still see some amazing sights. Camelback Mountain is a popular climbing spot, so parking space fills up quickly in the mornings; get there early! There are few spots that offer shade on either of these trails, so no matter when you go don’t forget to bring water!
2. Humphrey’s Summit Trail, Flagstaff
For serious hikers, Humphrey’s Peak should be on your Arizona adventure bucket list. The trailhead is located near the town of Flagstaff and it is about a nine mile journey to the summit and back.
Despite the difficult path, Mount Wrightson has some amazing views the entire way to the top, and on a clear day, you can even see the Sea of Cortez in the distance!
3. Wildcat Trail, Monument Valley
We know this Wildcat Trail isn't as challenging in terms of difficulty, but it is included it here because the location itself is more challenging to explore due to the fact that surrounding area is privately owned and inaccessible to visitors. Monument Valley is a widely recognizable and distinguished area, as it has been featured in many movies, television shows, and on countless calendars and posters.
The WIldcat Trail is a 3.2 mile loop and is the only trail in Monument Valley that you can take without a Native American guide. Visitors to the area love to do this hike at both sunrise and sunset - the scenery is perfect for taking some incredible photos of the incredible rocks!
4. Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon National Park
When people travel to the Grand Canyon, they always want to get the best vantage point for beautiful scenery, but rather than joining the crowds at the easy-access viewpoints, head to the trails for sights best seen by hiking.
The Bright Angel Trail is one of the more developed paths that will take you all the way down into the canyon, but be prepared to work hard on the way back up if you didn’t get a camping permit! The distance is about 10 miles straight down to the bottom, but it is strongly advised that no one (even the fittest hikers) should attempt to do the whole trip in one day (and there are way too many beautiful spots to see them all at once). Many visitors choose to go to the halfway point at the Indian Gardens, which in itself can be a seven hour journey round trip… but there are great photo opportunities along the way!
5. Mount Wrightson, Santa Cruz County
Near the city of Green Valley (south of Tucson), there is a mountain well known to local hikers as a challenging beast: Mount Wrightson. This steep and strenuous trail isn’t for the faint of heart, as it will take you a good ten hours to climb the nine tough miles up to the peak, which sits at an elevation of 9,453 feet!
Despite the difficult path, Mount Wrightson has some amazing vistas along the entire way to the top, and on a clear day, you can even see the Sea of Cortez in the distance!
6. Wasson Peak Trails, Tucson
Photo: Patti Kelsey
Wasson Peak is the tallest of the Tucson Mountains and offers some of the best desert views in Arizona. There are two ways to get up to the top: the Sweetwater Trail and the King Canyon Trail, both of which are about 7.5 miles long.
Photo: Patti Kelsey
These trails are great for a day hike that moderate hikers can complete in roughly four hours, but the unforgiving heat during the summer can make it a dangerous trip if you don’t plan ahead. Start your journey early in the morning (or wait for cooler seasons) for the most enjoyable experience. Once you make it up to the top of Wasson Peak you’ll get a view that is completely worth all that hard work put into getting there.
7. Pinnacle Peak, Scottsdale
At the edge of Scottsdale, you will find a tall pyramid-shaped mountain that any native could recognize as Pinnacle Peak. This trail is one that is often recommended to visitors coming from out of town, as the 3.9-mile journey is one that represents the iconic Arizona scenery with spectacular panoramic views of the desert and cacti. There are also guided night hikes at Pinnacle Peak that happen on full moon evenings, and they’re an awesome way to experience the desert in the dark under the bright, starry Arizona skies!
8. Finger Rock Canyon Trail, Tucson
If you are up for the challenge, you must check out the Finger Rock Canyon Trail. Finger Rock is a unique feature in Tucson’s Catalina Mountains, as it’s the one that looks exactly like what it’s named for: a fist with a index finger pointing up to the sky.
Visitors and locals alike enjoy hiking up this trail because it has some incredible views of the city below and is a challenge to get up to the top! This 8.2-mile trek is difficult, so pack appropriately before you go and plan to hit the trails early!
9. Cathedral Rock Trail, Sedona
Sure, the Cathedral Rock Trail in Sedona is only 1.1 miles long, but it's a steep climb to the top! This hike gives you everything you could ever want from a good hike, including some of the most incredible up-close views of the otherworldly geological formations in Arizona. If you are looking to add distance to your hike, you can approach this short trail via the Templeton Trail that follows a lower elevation route around the red rocks.
This spot is special because you can actually hike right up to Cathedral Rock itself, which is the most recognizable formation in Sedona. The extra push to the top is definitely not one for those afraid of heights! Please be careful here; wear study shoes and be mindful of your skill level.
If you are looking for adventures, amazing views, and some of the best hikes in Arizona, these trails must climb to the top of your to-do list. While they will take some extra time and may require some practice to conquer them all, the incredible experiences you will find along the way are absolutely worth the effort. Arizona is famous for it’s unmatched views and unbelievable natural beauty, and there is no better way to appreciate this spectacular state is to get out there and explore it!