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If you love to hike, one of the best places you can live or travel in is Arizona. There are lots of wide open spaces, the landscapes are dramatic, and the trails are suitable for all skill levels. For this article, we’re focusing on easy hikes that are perfect for beginners.
Hiking is one of the most accessible and beginner-friendly outdoor activities in the world. What’s great about hiking is that you can do it practically anywhere, with very minimal gear, and at a low cost. If you’re not used to the heat, sun, and dryness of Arizona, it’s also a smart idea to start with easy beginner hikes and gradually work your way up to harder routes.
Arizona is a beautiful state, and the best way to really experience its rugged beauty is on your own two feet. Here are our picks for the top beginner hikes in the state of Arizona.
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The Sedona area is one of the most dramatic and fascinating places to take a hike in the entire country. This is a region known for red rocks, vast landscapes, and mysterious vortexes. An easy trail to hike here is the Deadmans Pass Trail, which connects Boynton Canyon, the Mescal Trail, and Long Canyon. The easiest place to begin this hike is at the Boynton Canyon Road Trailhead, but other options are available too if parking is filled up during busy times. The hike will take you about 30 minutes one-way or an hour round-trip. You’ll find a variety of terrain on this trail and some single-track mountain biking paths here. Horses are also allowed on the trail.
There are tons of great hikes around Tucson, but an easy one to add to your local hiking bucket list is Tumamoc Hill. This hike is just over three miles round-trip and provides lovely views of the city in the distance. Come here at sunrise or sunset for the best views. Night hiking is allowed, so you won’t have to worry about being reprimanded for starting early or staying late. The hike has a gentle slope and mostly travels along a paved road. This trail is in Sentinel Peak Park and extends for about 2.9 miles as an out-and-back trail. The best time to hike this trail is between September and May due to the high heat of the summer months. Mountain biking is also allowed on this trail.
This natural reserve is a great place to see wildlife and get a killer workout. The Nature Trail is only about 1.5 miles long and travels along the eastern side of the mountain. It’s not the easiest trail on this list, but it is suitable for beginners who want to challenge themselves. The trail is rocky, but what’s great about it is that you can learn about native plants and animals from the signage along the way. There are also some benches if you need to take a break. If you’re feeling up to more of a challenge, you can also hike the Piestewa Peak Summit. This is a much more difficult hike that many hikers underestimate and are quickly frustrated. It can also get crowded on weekends. However, the park is also an excellent spot for a picnic with your family.
You won’t have to travel too far from the Arizona town of Waddell to hike the Waterfall Trail in White Tank Mountain Regional Park. The trail is about 1.9 miles long, and as the name suggests, there is a waterfall along it. However, be advised that the water is usually only flowing after a heavy rain. Make a point to hike this trail between the months of November and April due to the high summer heat. Dog owners will enjoy taking their leashed pups on this trail, and it’s also a good place for mountain biking and trail running. Be advised that there is a small fee required to enter this park. However, you can see some Native American petroglyphs along the way and learn about what they might mean. This family-friendly trail is suitable for young children and older adults.
The Grand Canyon certainly isn’t the only reason to visit the Flagstaff area! There are some great hikes here, and the temperatures are much cooler than in the more southern regions of the state. One trail here that’s nice and easy is the Aspen Nature Loop. You’ll travel about 1.5 miles and see beautiful views along the way. It’s near the Snowbowl and really showcases the trees that other parts of Arizona simply don’t have. The trail is part of the Coconino National Forest, and various hikes are available to experience the meadows, volcanic field, mountain peaks, and maybe even views of the Grand Canyon in the distance.
To get familiar with the Superstition Mountains, there are a few easy hikes that are always popular with locals and visitors. One of our favorites is the Treasure Loop Trail, which is about 2.4 miles long. Plan to spend about two hours on this hike, which will take you through the desert and past interesting rock formations. The trail is well-marked and can be accessed from the Lost Dutchman’s State Park. The Cholla day use area is a good place to put your car down. This is a great trail for beginners because there are some benches along the way if you need a rest, and there’s not a high elevation gain. If you visit in springtime, you may see the desert plants in bloom.
Any first-time visitor to Arizona should make a point to check out the Petrified Forest National Park, which has a large collection of historically and geographically significant petrified wood. The Blue Mesa Trail actually looks blue to the eye and travels along a paved trail. The trail is about a mile in length. You can take the trail to see pieces of petrified wood, and it descends to the blue, gray, and white-colored badlands. Come here for incredible views of an other-worldly landscape.
A popular trail near Tucson that is great for beginners is the Sabino Lake Trail. This trail is about 3.6 miles long and fun for hikers of all skill levels. There’s an elevation gain of about 351 feet and great for biking or jogging as well. The trail is dog-friendly and moderately-well marked with signs. You’ll also find some bathrooms and picnic tables along the way.
The Double Butte Loop Trail extends for about 2.3 miles and is moderately used in Papago Park. The park is very close to Phoenix and easy to get to if you’re staying in the city. Dogs are allowed on this trail, and you can see beautiful wildflowers in the springtime. The elevation gain is only about 127 feet. The best times to hike in this region is between April and October. Plan to spend about an hour on the trail if you are walking a dog, or half an hour or less if you are trail running. The Big Butte Loop Tail is accessible from the Phoenix Zoo and the Desert Botanical Garden, and it’s just over a mile in length. Start this hike at the Eliot Ramada, pass the amphitheater on McDowell, and make your way back to the starting point. You’ll get nice views of the valley without having to venture far out of town.
Another great Sedona hike is the Boynton Vista Trail, which is just about a mile round-trip. This short hike passes by a couple vortex rock formations and is one of the easiest ways to experience a vortex without traveling far into the desert. It’s marked by huge red sandstone formations that are believed to draw energy from the depths of the earth. At the end of the trail, you may see people meditating and feeling the energy of nature in their own unique ways. This short trail can be accessed from the Boynton Canyon Trail, and it is marked with a sign. Plan to spend about an hour on this hike when you visit Sedona.