Very few lists of “Best Hiking Trails in the U.S.” fail to include at least one of Arizona’s many spectacular and scenic wildland trails. Travel & Leisure magazine includes Grand Canyon National Park in its top 18 U.S. trails. So does Timeout magazine, which cites the Nankoweap Trail in the canyon for its “jaw-dropping rewards.”
But the scenic splendor of Arizona is hardly limited exclusively to the Grand Canyon, a fact that employees of the Arizona Department of Water Resources know very well.
ADWR people know the land and water of Arizona intimately, and not just from our professional point of view as stewards of our State’s water resources. Like thousands of other Arizonans, we value the beauty and incredible geographic diversity Arizona has to offer.
Jennifer Flores, a Water Resource Specialist in ADWR’s Surface Water Rights division, is just one of the Department’s many outdoors enthusiasts. Arizona Water News asked Jennifer why it is that she so enjoys hiking around different locations in the State. Her response:
“Growing up in the City of Philadelphia, I never really had many opportunities to immerse myself into nature. Now that I live in Arizona, one of the most biodiverse states in the country, I enjoy any opportunity I have to explore the amazing outdoors of Arizona,” she said.
“What I find amazing about the trails of Arizona is that no two trails are alike, their level of difficulty varies, and all offer scenic views of Arizona’s vast landscape and various kinds of plants and wildlife.”
We asked Jennifer to break down for us her Top Three hiking spots in the State, and her Top Ten, overall.
Jennifer’s Top Three Arizona hiking trails:
1) South Kaibab Trail at Grand Canyon National Park
One of my favorite moderate rated trails to hike. The hike down to “Ooh Aah” point is fairly easy, going up is the hardest part because of the steep incline, but I loved the challenge. This trail is special to me because it is the first hiking trail my mother and I ever climbed together (mind you, we are both from Philadelphia and my mother isn’t a big hiker). My mother and I loved the beautiful view of the Grand Canyon at Ooh Aah point.
2) Devil's Bridge Trail #120, Sedona
Another one of my favorite moderate-rated out-and-back trails. The hike up to Devil’s Bridge, a natural sandstone bridge, was a bit challenging but fun overall. The view of Red Rock country from the Bridge is stunning. I also like that this trail is dog friendly, but would still be cautious, as some areas may be too difficult for a dog to climb.
3) Woodchute Trail #102, Jerome
One of the easier trails to hike in Arizona. This trail is dog friendly and offers great views of Verde Valley and the red rock buttes of Sedona. The wildflowers in the spring are beautiful. There are some areas with shade and plenty of resting spots to eat lunch while enjoying the breathtaking view of Verde Valley.
Jennifer’s Top Ten Overall Arizona Hiking Trails:
- Parsons Trail #144, Clarkdale
- South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon National Park
- Devil's Bridge Trail #120, Sedona
- East Fork Trail #95A, Greer
- Peralta Trail #102, Apache Junction
- Palm Canyon Trail, Quartzsite
- Woodchute Trail #102, Jerome
- Seven Falls Trail, Tucson
- Highline Trail #31, Payson
- Noon Creek Ridge #318, Safford
(Got a favorite Arizona hiking trail? Drop Arizona Water News a line, along with a photo from the trail, describing the trail and why it’s so enjoyable to hike, and we’ll try finding room for it in a future edition of Arizona Water News.)