Arizona is a beautiful state with a great number of amazing places to hike. For people that are just visiting, the biggest struggle can often be picking the right places to visit during the trip! However, we can help with that, as we have listed the 15 best hiking trails in Arizona below for you.
1: South Kaibab Trail to Skeleton Point
The South Kaibab Trail has several of the most remarkable places in Arizona along it. Hiking all the way to its end at Skeleton Point will have you passing both Ooh Aah Point and Cedar Ridge, both remarkable locations with great views.
This leads to the South Kaibab trail’s primary advantage over some other trails in the Grand Canyon: multiple stopping points. Stopping at either Cedar Ridge or Ooh Aah Point will feel like a great end to the hike, meaning that even it’s easy to avoid the pressure that many other challenging routes have to push on to the endpoint.
Hiking out to either of these places may only take a few hours depending on your level of experience, which makes these great destinations for families. They are mildly difficult, however, as no matter where you hike out to, the journey involves steep inclines.
The trail down to Skeleton Point can also be genuinely dangerous, as the temperatures there can easily reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit before noon. This makes the section of the hike between Cedar Ridge and Skeleton Point a hike that only expert hikers should attempt.
As with all hikes in the Grand Canyon, you’re less likely to end up hurt if you listen to the rangers when they tell you to turn around. They have more experience than you do when it comes to these things.
However, all of these trails can be completed in less than a day, making them ideal for hikers who only have limited time to enjoy nature while they’re in nature.
2: Devil’s Bridge Trail
The Devil’s Bridge Trail in Sedona ends in a huge sandstone arch, which hikers can cross if they’re brave enough to do so. This hike is moderately difficult but is short enough to be completed in a single day.
This really is one of the most popular hikes in the state, however, and it isn’t uncommon for there to be 40 to 50 people at the end of the hike lined up to take pictures even in the early morning. However, if you can beat the crowds and get a few minutes alone at the bridge, it can be a fantastic experience
This is also a great place for off-roading, so if you have a loved one who engages in that hobby with whom you would like to share an experience, this might be the place for you!
3: Cathedral Rock Trail
Cathedral Rock may be a short trail, but it isn’t for children! This 1.8-mile hike is fairly challenging but offers a great view at the end of it if you can make it there safely.
This hike is especially fun for its more physically challenging aspects, as hikers will need to use their hands to climb portions of this incredibly steep trail.
However, this is another one of those trails that are super popular. You’re unlikely to spend a lot of time alone on this trail, as it is almost always filled with people.
Fortunately, most hikers should be able to complete the trail in a single morning or evening considering its short distance. Important safety precautions include a headlamp for early mornings and late evenings (as the trail requires that you have your hands free) and some hiking boots with good traction for the climbing section.
4: North Kaibab to Grand Canyon Village
If you’re looking for a multi-day trail, there isn’t much that’s more iconic than this hike from one rim of the Grand Canyon to the other. At about 24 miles and 13 total hours to complete, this is a great option for a two-day outing that really feels like an accomplishment.
Alternatively, experienced hikers may be able to complete the whole trip in a single day with the right dedication and planning. Even with the intense difficulty towards the end, 24 miles is totally doable for a confident group.
However, the dry heat in the canyon can be hazardous for many people, so make sure to bring plenty of electrolytes. You’ll find that you need them, along with all the water you will bring with you!
The trail is incredibly well-maintained, and there are places to refill water bottles and soak towels throughout the trail. Hikers will also have the opportunity to see the Canyon from above and below over the course of the trip.
This hike can be done in reverse, but it is incredibly difficult as the ascent at the end is much longer on the North Kaibab side than it would be at the traditional finish.
5: Boynton Canyon Trail
This 6.1 total mile trail is an Arizona classic. Dog friendly and not too difficult, anyone with the constitution for hiking should be able to finish this trail in a couple of hours.
Ironically located in Secret Mountain Wilderness, this is another of the state’s most famous hikes available. The highlight of this hike is the cave at the 2-mile point, which can be found a little off the trail. A really cool location that is easily the most interesting place on the trail.
You’ll want to bring a map with you to find the cave though, as it isn’t actually marked on the trail. This is one of the easier hikes on this list.
6: West Fork of Oak Creek Trail
As another two-hour or so hike, this trail goes through the beautiful Munds Park. Unlike Boynton Canyon, this trail is known for its remarkable view of canyon walls, pairing not-too-difficult terrain with a location you’ll want to come back to!
Unlike some of the more intense hikes on this list, most people should be able to make this trip fairly easily, and the hike is worth all the time you spend on it.
Highlights of this hike include shade and proximity to the titular creek. These work together to make the hot Arizona sun feel like not too big of a deal.
That being said, the trail is very popular, so be prepared to meet other people while you’re out on this relaxing hike. It isn’t nearly as bad as the big tourist trails, but there will certainly be other people visiting while you’re there.
7: Hieroglyphic Trail
As another classic Arizona destination, this hike through the Hieroglyphic Canyon is certainly a sight to see. Only a little less than three miles to the end and back on relatively flat terrain, most people will be able to make it all the way through with no problem
Depending on the time of year, hikers have complained of bugs and the summer heat. Because of this, visitors should make sure to bring some bug spray to keep the bugs off.
However, for people who can push through the bugs, the cave at the end is certainly a unique experience that anyone visiting Arizona should see! This trail is absolutely worth hiking for most people.
8: Bright Angel Trail
A 12-mile hike through the Grand Canyon, this hike can be done in a single day if you start early in the morning. This hike can be a great component of training for a longer hike through the Canyon. This hike’s recommended season is October through May. These are the parts of the year where the heat should be the most manageable.
However, this trail can also be broken down into three days for backpackers. This gives you more time to enjoy the beauty down at the bottom of the Canyon and allows you to really pace yourself going up and down.
Whether you take one day or three, this is a hike that shows Arizona’s greatest natural wonder. However, like any hike down into the Canyon, it can be a tiring and strenuous experience even if you’re prepared for it. Make sure you have enough food and water for while you’re down there, and even in the colder months take the heat seriously.
Even if this trail isn’t as long as North Kaibab to Grand Canyon Village, it can still be difficult. Don’t underestimate it!
You can combine Bright Angel with the South Kaibab trail through Phantom Ranch to bring the miles up to 19 or so. This route is longer but gives you even more opportunities to take in the sights of the Grand Canyon. However, South Kaibab can be pretty exhausting going up, so maybe camp out near the base of the ascent and take the climb in the morning.
9: Massacre Falls Trail
This five-mile trail goes through beautiful fields of flowers and ends in a waterfall when there’s been enough rain for it. Even without the waterfall though, this trail is worth visiting for the journey itself.
Despite the intimidating name, this hike is not too difficult and is another trail that you can bring even inexperienced hikers to. Hikers can see the mountains in the distance, and the views are certainly worth the effort.
This trail is quiet compared to a lot of the other trails listed here. This means that if you’re looking for a place to avoid the tourist rush, this might be the place for you.
This hike through the Superstition Wilderness is certainly worth your time!
10: Munds Wagon, Cow Pies, and Hangover Loop
This 8.2-mile loop is surprisingly difficult. From the high temperatures in the park to the tough scrambles needed to get through Hangover, this hike can be a little more intense than a lot of people expect. Still, it can usually be finished in just over three hours.
The high temperatures mean that keeping track of hydration is especially important during this day trip. It’s also recommended that hikers bring gloves for help getting through the scrambles at Hangover.
But the views from the Cow Pies are absolutely worth the effort, and hikers will be able to enjoy vistas that keep people coming back year after year.
Most people recommend going around counterclockwise, which will have you warming up on the simpler Munds Wagon and Cow Pies sections before you get to Hangover and have to climb.
Another highlight of this trail is the abundance of natural life, with lizards, scorpions, and cool bushes around every corner. Hikers should keep their eyes peeled for interesting creatures during this experience.
While this is a fairly popular location, it isn’t nearly as full as the Devil’s Bridge or Cathedral Rock trails. If you like seeing other people but don’t want to find yourself waiting in line to take a picture this is the trail for you! Just make sure you can take the heat!
11: Boulder Canyon To Viewpoint
This is a simple trail through Superstition of only about five miles. Enjoyable by anyone, it is a fantastic showcase of Arizona’s beautiful desert landscape. While popular, this trail is very rarely overly-full, meaning that this is another great place to visit to get away from people.
Parking access is also pretty easy for this trail, as it doesn’t require a parking pass to Tonto like most other trails in the area do. All in all, this trail is a great experience for anyone in the area who wants to get a taste of Superstition but doesn’t want to devote a whole day to Tonto.
12: Buckskin Gulch Trail to Lee’s Ferry
As the first 50-mile trail on this list, this hike will require you to block out at least a couple of days if you plan to hike the entire thing. Coming in at an average of about twenty total hours of hiking time, this likely means splitting the trail down into a couple of smaller, more manageable legs over the course of a backpacking trip.
Buckskin Gulch is incredibly dry, meaning that there won’t be many opportunities to refill your water bottle until you get to the confluence with Paria. This means that hikers should take care to bring enough water with them to keep hydrated.
If the extreme dryness of the Gulch didn’t tip you off, this is a particularly challenging trail, requiring fitness from anyone venturing to travel it. It will have you scrambling over rocks, crossing rivers, and enduring desert conditions. Keeping the time of year in your favor by going in fall or spring is a must.
But the reward for completing this challenge is truly remarkable! The canyon around the Paria River is a natural wonder that must be seen to be believed, and many places along the trail both before and after can match or even exceed it depending on the light.
And while this trail does attract enough backpackers that your group will likely meet one or two on their way through, this truly is wilderness space. You can expect to be mostly alone for most of the time you’re here, as is often true of trails of this length.
The disadvantages of this trail include a lack of alternative stopping points and its sheer difficulty. It also isn’t quite 50 miles, so scouts looking to earn the 50 miler patch will need to add about five miles to it somewhere along the path (doubling up on one section might be the best way to do this, as there are no alternative routes through the canyon on account of the huge walls).
Otherwise, this trail might be one of the state’s hidden gems. If you have about a week of time in the state and nothing else is catching your fancy (and you’re an experienced backpacker who is prepared for a challenging 45-mile hike) this might be a good way to spend that time.
13: Hell’s Gate Trail
A 15-mile trail that’s perfect for an overnighter, this hike culminates in a beautiful swimming hole at the end of a somewhat grueling hike.
Aside from the end, the trail is totally dry, so it’s important to know what your pace will be and bring water accordingly. If you know that you’ll want to stretch this trail out to three days or so, you’ll need about three days of water per person.
And the trek is fairly challenging, so many parties will want to take a longer time with it than the usual eight hours or so. This makes pacing yourself even more important on this particular trail.
One big pull of this trail is the many cow sighting opportunities scattered throughout. While the smell that comes with these opportunities can be tough to handle, any cow enthusiasts interested in seeing a great number of bovines while hiking will find this to be worth the challenge, maybe as much or more than the view at the end.
While the trail itself can be dreary at times, this tough hike can be good practice for preparing for one of the longer hikes on this list as long as you bring enough water to keep yourself hydrated.
14: Skull Mesa Trail
Another great training hike, this 11-mile trail is tough with steep inclines and desert conditions. While a devoted group can probably finish the whole thing in about a day, most people will probably get more out of taking the scenery in over the course of two days or so.
This trail is pretty popular, so expect to see other people during your journey. However, it isn’t so popular as to feel oversaturated like many of the more touristy areas on this list.
That being said, this trail is very difficult. The steep inclines and rough terrain can make the distance feel a lot longer than it really is. Trying to take the whole trail on at once is certainly a demanding task that can shred hikers who are just trying to enjoy the view.
Because of this, breaking the hike down into two sections is probably the best way to go for most people. If you aren’t confident in your abilities and aren’t able to go for two days, maybe leave this hike off until you have the strength/time to handle it.
15: Highline National Recreation Trail
At 55.2 miles long, this historic trail is both very tough and a little longer than the Buckskin Gulch to Lee’s Ferry Trail. Unlike many of the trails on this list, there are plenty of water sources to refill on, so traveling with just a filter and a water bottle will probably be fine. That being said, just because you aren’t dealing with extra water weight doesn’t mean that this hike will be easy!
With steep rocky inclines and some tough navigation, hikers should make sure to plan to travel at a pace they know they can sustain for several days.
Speaking of length, as with many longer hikes the difference between hikes is clearly on display here. People can take anywhere between three to five days to backpack all the way to the end.
Advantages of this hike include the beautiful view and the quiet solitude. Compared to the other 50-mile trails on this list, the Highline National Recreation Trail is also relatively free, with multiple possible stopping points for travelers who don’t want to commit to three whole days of hiking or who end up in an emergency situation.
This trail is also very well maintained, something that cannot be said for all 50-mile trails.
It isn’t quite as stunning as the other 50-mile hikes here, and the fact that it’s actually a bit more than 50 miles might be a big downside for some people.
That being said, this is a beautiful hike that can be a ton of fun as long as you know what you’re in for. So, pack your backpacks, go get your camera, and prepare for some Arizona hiking! Wherever it is that you choose to go visit, you’ll be in for a real treat when you get there.