Arizona never ceases to amaze me, with endless days of sun. How can you not head outside to explore? I have ventured countless miles across the desert and mountains but there is still an ever-growing bucket list of places to explore. From all of the places I have visited, I would HIGHLY recommend visiting the following five place as a day hike or weekend trip, accompanied by a fun, outdoors loving, group of friends of course.
1. Havasu Falls
This place has a special place in my heart as it was one of my very first backpacking trip. The turquoise waterfalls are blowing up all over social media, but in person they are even more amazing.
The waterfalls lie within the Havasupai Indian Reservation, and a permit is mandatory to hike and camp. From the trailhead, you hike 8 miles through canyon walls to the village of Supai where you can stay in the inn, or continue for another 2 miles to the campgrounds. Stay at least two-nights to venture to a few of the falls. If you feel brave enough to scale the ladders of Mooney falls, you will be rewarded with relaxing in the waters.
You can continue down to Beaver Falls, which is 3.5 miles from the campground one way.
If you stay above Mooney Falls you can hike above the campgrounds to Havasu Falls, which houses different areas for cliff jumpers to scale.
If you have enough time you can search for 50-foot falls and New Navajo falls. It does not matter which waterfall you choose, you will not be disappointed. Each one has fun to be had. The best time to visit is May when the weather warms up, as the water temperature stays constant year-round.
2. Brown’s Peak
The iconic Four Peaks, which is situated on the Arizona license plate and also the name of an awesome brewery, is home to Brown’s Peak which is the tallest of the four. The trailhead can be found in the Four Peaks Wilderness area, about an hour northeast of Phoenix followed by an 18-mile HPV(Human Powered Vehicle) dirt road.
Once you reach the trailhead you will enjoy a nice cool breeze, which in the Phoenix summertime is a nice change of pace. You can camp in the area and enjoy the view out to Roosevelt Lake or begin your incline to the summit.
The trail begins with a gentle incline, winding through high brush and forest areas. Once you reach the saddle you can continue up the chute. Along the way you have to be careful of loose rock and use your hands to climb in a few areas. I visited this peak in early May and hiked up through the fog. When the clouds parted I could see for miles in a full panoramic view that can reach to the snowy peaks in Flagstaff.
3. Bright Angel Trail - Grand Canyon
This trail runs 9 miles each way, beginning at the top of the South Rim and ending at the Colorado River, with an elevation change of 4200 feet. Along the trail you run into different markers, in the warmer months water is available at the 1.5-mile mark and 3-mile mark. I used HydroBlu's Clear Flow as one of my water filter systems.
Indian Gardens, which is situated 4.5 miles from the rim, provides water year-round and is home to a campground for backpackers. Bright Angel Campground is another location you can stay overnight, however, a permit is required. You get the luxury of sipping back a cold Bright Angel India Pale Ale at Phantom Ranch, putting your feet in the Colorado River and hiking around to see views spanning the canyon.
4. Mt. Humphreys
As my birthday rolled around, I couldn’t think of a better birthday than being outdoors standing on top of a mountain. I quickly decided that my first ascent up Mt. Humphreys would be as a turned another year older. Standing as the highest peak in Arizona at 12,633 feet Mt. Humphreys is worth visiting as the snow melts at the end of spring. You may need microspikes if the snowpack is heavy enough while in the tree line, but otherwise, bring a daypack and hit the trails.
The Summit trail, 5 miles one way, has an elevation gain of 3,300 feet. You can also take the Inner Basin Trail, which during the fall season is covered in golden leaves, giving breathtaking views. This trail is a little longer, 7 miles one way with an elevation gain of 4,400 feet. Afternoon thunderstorms are common, however on a clear day, the panoramic view allows you to see the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
The times I have summited, I have experienced snow-covered trails that lead to scrambling the side of the mountain to find the trail again, and racing from mid-morning thunderstorms down from the peak to the tree line. Neither of these experiences would hold me back from hiking the trail again, in the fall to see the changing leaves while summiting.
5. Cathedral Rock
Located in Sedona, Arizona in the Coconino National Forest, this quick trail, 1-mile each way when starting at Cathedral Rock trailhead or 4-miles one way when starting at Yavapai Vista Trail, offers scenic views of the iconic red rocks. This trail is heavily trafficked and you will not find a place of solitude while taking in the panoramic views.
I, however, snuck away once I reached the saddle to soak in the full vortex experience. The reason people complete this hike. I ventured to the left when arriving to the saddle and followed a small incline to allow for self-reflection. As I arrived another group was hiking down allowing me 5 minutes of hearing only the wind blowing and birds chirping.
It has been said that Cathedral Rock is an Up-Flow Vortex, allowing people to feel inspired and find serenity. While on this trail, I made wonderful conversations with new friends from all over the world who were enjoying the sunshine and views the red rock area Sedona offers.
Arizona is much more than a desert state with the giant canyon that can be seen from space. The views and hikes are grand and majestic. Arizona is the best! Come on down and visit.
Get to Know Berit:
Berit likes to get out there. She has traveled to every end on here home state of Arizona and beyond. She and her crew wander from peak to peak looking for the next adventure high. When she is not on the trail she is a a speak theropist. Follow her on her Instagram account @berit_lynn