5 Best Arizona Hiking Trails

The wrinkled land of Arizona is a hiker’s paradise. The Grand Canyon State’s varied landscapes, not to mention the great canyon itself, are crisscrossed with hundreds of well-maintained and well-used trails of various lengths and difficulties. Whether you’re looking for an easy walk in the desert or a multiday expedition deep into the canyon’s depths, the five hikes listed below are among the best of the best.

man walking along a trail in Arizona
The Bright Angel Trail is a hike of a lifetime. Photo © Tim Hull.

White House Ruin Trail (Canyon de Chelly National Monument; 2.5 miles round-trip, 2-3 hours, elevation gain 550 feet, moderate): High sandstone walls tower above as you descend into the Navajo Nation’s Canyon de Chelly, where the otherworldly White House Ruin awaits, carved into the cliffs.

Brown Mountain Trail (Tucson Mountain Park; 4.8 miles round-trip, 2-3 hours, elevation gain 260 feet, moderate): This trail winds through the saguaro forests on Tucson’s wild western edge, rising to traverse a ridgeline with spectacular views of the surprisingly verdant Sonoran Desert.

West Fork of Oak Creek Trail (north of Sedona; 6.5 miles round-trip, 2-3 hours, elevation gain 200 feet, easy): A rare example of a high-desert streamside forest environment, dark green evergreens mingle with red rocks and trickling water here to create an exotic Southwestern Eden.

Humphreys Peak Trail (Snowbowl Ski Area, Flagstaff; 9 miles round-trip, 5-6 hours, elevation gain 3,833 feet, difficult): This hike isn’t easy, but the effort is richly rewarded when you’re looking out over Arizona from its highest point, more than 12,000 feet above sea level.

Bright Angel Trail to Phantom Ranch (Grand Canyon Village; 9.6 miles one-way, overnight, elevation gain 4,380 feet, moderate to difficult): Obtain a permit and head down the ancient Bright Angel Trail to the Colorado River and Phantom Ranch, in the mystical depths of the Grand Canyon. It takes a bit of planning, but this is truly the hike of a lifetime.

Tim Hull

About the Author

A resident of Arizona for more than 40 years, Tim Hull has hiked its trails and driven its backroads from the deserts to the mountains to the wondrous depths of the Grand Canyon. As a news reporter and freelance writer for the past 20 years, Hull has written about the history, politics, environment and culture of Arizona and the Southwest for newspapers, magazines and websites. His family's roots in the state run deep, beginning in the 1870s when his maternal great-great-grandfather opened a doctor's office in Prescott, a mountain town in the state's central pinelands. In his spare time Hull travels the world with his wife and writes fiction. He is also the author of Moon Grand CanyonMoon Tucson, and Moon Southwest Road Trip.

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