AZ Utopia is An Arizona insider's guide to the best Arizona hiking trails for all levels. Includes the Grand Canyon, Sedona and beyond. Detailed descriptions & photos. The mission of this blog is sharing quality visual and written information to help others enjoy Arizona's incredible hikes, alongside timely hiking news and events, hiking tips and inspiring posts.
Find splash-worthy pools, a canyon stream & seasonal falls on this short, rocky trail. Swimming season or not, Tanque Verde Canyon is a fantastic area to explore! With its seasonally-flowing waterfalls, huge granite boulders and high canyon walls, it’s a narrow desert oasis.
TRAILHEAD: Reddington Rd. , Tucson •DIFFICULTY: Moderate • DISTANCE: 1.6 Miles (3 Miles Round Trip) • APPROX. TIME: 1-2.5 HOURS RT • ELEVATION GAIN: 375 FEET RT (27 STORIES) • APPROX. CALORIES BURNED: 450-510 RT • BEST TIME OF YEAR: Marh-Nov. • PETS: yes • KID FRIENDLY: yes (10 and OLdER) • FACILITIES: none • FEES: none
Forcing its way out of Tucson’s Ricon Mountains, the Tanque Verde River cuts a dramatic path. Colorful canyon walls, seasonal waterfalls, over-sized boulders and pools of water mark its route.
The lower Tanque Verde Falls Hiking Trail accesses this river via a short 0.5-mile hike down Tanque Verde Canyon. Long views over the canyon and mountains make this hike pretty sweet from the start.
The real adventure begins once the trail reaches the canyon floor. The remaining 1-mile hike is unmarked, following the river upstream. Scrambling up water-smoothed granite boulders, along uneven banks and through pools of water is required!
The reward? During wet seasons two large waterfalls cascade through the canyon. The first is 30′ high. And the second is 75′ high, sporting an ample swimming-hole beneath!
Whether the fall is flowing or not, the rugged beauty of the Tanque Verde canyon is a blast to explore.
Total Nerdery The Tanque Verde Canyon gets plenty of use in Summer. And some people like to enjoy it “au naturel.” You’ve been informed :). WARNING: Keep your eye open for weather, especially during monsoon season! Flash floods can roll through quickly and dangerously.
Directions From the AZ-10 (in Tucson) take exit 257 east onto Speedway Blvd. Drive 12.4 miles on Speedway Blvd. then turn left / north onto N. Houghton Rd. Take N. Houghton Rd. for 1.1 miles, then turn right/ east onto E. Tanque Verde Rd. Continue on E. Tanque Verde Rd., which becomes Reddington Rd., for 6.7 miles. The Tanque Verde Falls Trailhead parking lot is on the left / north side of the road, a short ways after it becomes gravel.
Easy, but dramatically beautiful… this hike is custom-made for a mellow day outdoors! The Marcus Landslide Hiking Trail’s wide, gentle pathway passes otherworldly rock formations and intriguing geology. It’s perfect for a day exploring with family, friends or novice hikers.
TRAILHEAD: 23015 N 128TH ST, SCOTTSDALE • DIFFICULTY: easy • DISTANCE: 1.85 MILES (3.7 miles RT) • APPROX. TIME: 2-3 HOURS rt • ELEVATION GAIN: 300 feet • APPROX. CALORIES BURNED: 480 – 550 rt • BEST TIME OF YEAR:NOV.–APR. • PETS: YES • KID FRIENDLY: Yes • FACILITIES: YES (BUT no water) • FEES: None
The Marcus Landslide Hiking Trail starts at the northern tip of the McDowell Mountains. Then it gently curves around the mountain’s eastern base. The contrast of open skies against boulder strewn slopes creates a dramatic landscape right from the beginning.
Interpretive signs explain the area’s bizarre geology with geeky, fun-filled facts. Included are the “hows and whys” of the numerous, massive granite “mushrooms” huddled beside the trail.
Millions of years of erosion have resulted in soaring, 50′ high, hoodoos. These precariously balanced, Jenga-like structures seem to defy gravity.
The Marcus Landslide area comes into view as the trail curves around the mountain. About 500,000 years ago, almost 30 billion pounds of rock and soil slid down the mountainside, at 40 miles-per-hour! Included in the rubble were ginormous boulders weighing more than 2 million pounds each.
Near the trail’s end, a short, moderately steep loop, winds through part of the slide mass. Here, a gigantic boulder, called the Submarine, rests alongside the trail. Head back the way you came to reach the trailhead.
The Marcus Landslide was only discovered in 2002, by two college students (pretty smart!). It is the second largest known landslide ever to occur in Arizona.
Directions From AZ-101 (in Phoenix) take Exit 36/Pima Road and Princess Drive and head north. Continue north on Pima Road for 6 miles to Happy Valley Road. Turn right/east on Happy Valley Road (which becomes East 118 Street) and drive 4.3 miles to East Ranch Gate Road. Turn right/east on East Ranch Gate road and drive 1.2 miles to North 128 Street. Then turn right/south onto North 128 Street and continue 1.4 miles to the trailhead parking lot.
Congratulations! You’ve scored a permit to visit Havasu Falls. And now you’re in serious planning mode. To help out, we’ve put together a recommended supply list (below) and downloadable checklist (with recommended weights, etc.) on what to tuck into your backpack. Plus, the camping descriptions below provide a good heads-up on the ins-and-outs of Havasu Falls camping.
(Side note: If you’re planning to purchase any of these or similar items, using the links below helps support AZ Utopia – at zero cost to you! We receive a teeny percent of the purchase price, which goes directly towards our hosting fees. We really appreciate it and thank you for thinking of us!):
Backpacking & Camping Essentials
For the 10 mile backpack into the canyon, aim for a base weight of 20-30 lbs.. Base weight is the sum weight of the items carried in and out (i.e. backpack, tent, sleeping bag, clothes, etc.), and not consumed (i.e. food & water).
Backpack – 45-65 liter capacity (depending on length of stay), lightweight, correctly-fit & water bladder system capable. Having a correctly fit backpack will greatly improve your hiking experience. REI is a solid source for fittings and adjustments. If you’re renting, your equipment house should be able to fit you. Among our favorite backpacks are the Men’s Gregory Zulu 65, Women’s Gregory Jade 63 and Osprey Aura 65.
Backpack rain cover (optional) – July through September, expect afternoon or evening rain.
Water Bladder – There are so many to choose from! We’re pretty keen on the design of the easy-open Osprey Bladders although Camelback Bladders are another solid option.
Hiking Poles – (optional) Poles come in really handy when carrying a backpacking load. They help distribute some of the weight to your arms. And provide much needed balance and support as the backpack’s heft pulls your body from side to side. We love the super light weight, easy-to-collapse design and grippy handles of Black Diamond’s Alpine Cork Trekking Poles. A slightly more expensive, but equally great pole, is the Leki Micro Vario Carbon.
Tent – Between 2-5.5 lbs. max., with stakes & rain fly for privacy and weather protection. The Havasu campsite is mostly flat with a good soil & sand floor. A footprint will help protect your tent floor, but is optional. Sprinkles are possible throughout the year, and afternoon rains should be expected July through September. Our favorite backpacking tents are the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL Classic, and Mountainsmith Morrison 2.
Sleeping Bag – Between 2-3.5 lbs. max. Man made fill is recommended, as the moist creek air tends to dampen down bags. A temperature rating is between 35-40° is generally fine April through October. In winter you’ll need a 20° temperature rated bag. Recommended sleeping bags include Women’s Big Agnes Slavonia 30°, or Mountain Hardwear’s Unisex Spark 34° or Lamina Long 20°.
Sleeping bag compression sack (optional) – Compression sacks squeeze your sleeping bag down into a teeny package. Fantastic for opening up space in your backpack.
Sleeping Pad – Although insulated mats are more expensive than foam pads, they do a much better job of fending off cold seeping up from the ground. We like the full-length, ultralight mat from Sea to Summit. A cheaper route is using a foam pad. Foam Pads are light, and easy to pack. But lack the padding and insulation of a mat. To us, an insulated mat is worth the spend.
Pillow (optional) – Lightweight & inflatable, if you bring one. We choose to store our clothes in a pillowcase, and use it as a pillow.
Patch kit (optional) – Tenacious tape is fantastic for on-the-fly tent or inflatables patching.
Rope – Stringing up a 15-20 foot length of guy line at your campsite is essential for for hanging wet items and food in a protective rat sack.
Headlamp & extra batteries – You’ll need light to get around the campground at night, or if you opt to hike out before sunrise (highly recommended in Summer to beat the heat). We’re crazy about Petzle’s bright lumens and super light weight.
Hammock & Straps (optional) – Extra weight, but oh-so-fun to hang around in. Our favorite is the ultralight ENO hammock.
Picnic tables are scattered throughout the Havasu campsite, so there’s no need to bring seating.
Layers are the best way to dress in the desert, as temperatures vary 30-40 degrees from day to night.
Hiking pants – It’s good to have on pair of lightweight, hiking pants on hand for evenings and cool days, Spring through Fall. In winter bring a pair of long pants for each day, and one pair of shorts in case the weather warms up. Here again, we like Columbia’s light, stretchy Silver Ridge men’s cargo pants and women’s Saturday Trail long pants.
Sleeveless or short sleeve shirts – Athletic shirts help wick away sweat and help avoid chaffing, much better than cotton tees. And hiking shirts often come with SPF protection. Make sure that your shoulders are covered for both sun and backpack strap protection. Plan to bring one shirt for each day of your trip, Spring through Fall. There are a ton of brands to select from including The North Face and Columbia for women and men.
Long sleeve shirts – Moisture wicking athletic shirts. One for evening use, Spring through Fall. One for each day in Winter.
Brimmed Hat – A wide brim will minimize sun exposure on the 10-mile hike. Look for mesh panels for breathability and coolness.
Swimsuit – Hopefully it will get a lot of use! Kowabunga.
Underwear – You know… one per day.
Long base layer (winter months only) – A base layer will keep you warm when the cold sets in. Lightweight wool is your friend, with it’s anti-microbial properties (less stink prone) that stand up to for multi-day use. We like the quality of Smartwool’s Men’s and Women’s lightweight base layers.
PJs (optional) – Kinda nice to wrap up the evening in something clean & comfy.
Jacket or polar fleece – You’ll appreciate having a lightweight layer as the nights cool off – even in Summer. We recommend Mountain Hardwear’s men’s and women’s puffy jackets for both warmth and compactability. In winter you’ll need a heavier jacket.
Socks – Enough for each day, plus one or two to keep blisters at bay. Wool socks wick moisture away and are anti-microbial (less stinky). Darn Tough socks offer a lifetime guarantee and are a hiking staple.
Hiking boots – Boots are recommended over shoes, for added ankle support while carrying a backpack. The deep lugs, grippy soles and amped-up toe and foot protection found on Men’s and Women’s Oboz Bridger Boots make them our favorite for rocky trails like this. Keen boots are another reliable option, as is Salomon.
Water shoes – You’ll really appreciate having a pair of rugged water shoes for swimming under Havasu Falls or making the trek out to Beaver Falls or the Colorado River (which requires wading across the creek many times). We’re big fans of the rugged, grippy soles found on Men’s and Women’s Keen’s Newport water shoes.
Flip Flops (optional) – They add a little weight. But are nice at the end of a long day of hiking!
Cooking Equipment, Food & Water
Campfires are not permitted in Havasu Canyon, and there are no grills. Any cooking must be done on portable butane or propane stoves. And ALL TRASH MUST BE PACKED OUT! A small store, in Supai Village, stocks basic groceries, if needed. A Fry Bread station (yum!) is open some evenings by the campground entrance. And a small local cafe in the village, is open intermittently. Potable water is readily available from a natural spring in the campground.
Water – For the 10-mile trek in and out of the canyon, bring 3-4 liters of water (there is no potable water along the trail until your reach Supai Village). A natural spring supplies drinking water to Havasu Campground.
Electrolyte Powder or Tabs (optional)- Really helpful for maintaining energy and replacing salts lost on the sweaty hike. We’re big fans of Ultima powders or Nuun tablets, but there are many good options in the market.
Water carrier & filter – A collapsable container with a handle is needed for carrying water from the spring to your campsite. It’s recommended to filter the spring water, but not required. We loved the Katadyn Filter and hyper-compactable Hydropack water container combo. They stuff super-small, but expand to handle a good volume of water.
Cook stove & fuel (optional) – Although it’s not necessary to bring a stove, there’s nothing like hot coffee in the morning and a warm meal at night. Lightweight options like JetBoil make this a breeze. A 230 gram fuel canister can boil up to 6 gallons of water. Plenty for two people over four days.
Bowl, cup with handle, utensils & mesh bag – Multi-purpose, lightweight dinnerware like Sea to Summit’s Delta Bowl, a good spork, and a double walled mug with handle for drinking hot or cold liquids, is all that’s really needed. Hang everything in a mesh sack to dry after cleanup.
Pocket knife -Bring an ultralight knife for opening stubborn packages, cutting food or rope.
Food protection – We highly recommend protecting your food from the campground’s hungry squirrels and mice, by hanging it outside in a gnaw-proof rat sack. This way you’ll also avoid having these critters, in search of food, chew holes chewed through..
You’ll feel like you’re flying, at the top of Blackett’s Ridge Hiking Trail! This strenuous, rocky hike climbs to a thin, sky-high ridge. From the peak, soaring views over Sabino and Bear Canyons, and the eastern Santa Catalinas, spread out thousands of feet below.
TRAILHEAD: Sabino Canyon Recreation Center, Tucson • DIFFICULTY: difficult • DISTANCE: 3 MILES (6 RT) • APPROX. TIME: 3 – 4 HOURS rt • ELEVATION GAIN: 1,685 FEET (12o STORIES) • APPROX. CALORIES BURNED: 1,020 – 1,140 rt • BEST TIME OF YEAR: oct. – april • PETS: no • KID FRIENDLY: no • FACILITIES: YES • FEES: $5 DAY OR $85 ANNUAL National parks PASS
Blackett’s Ridge Hiking Trail is one of the most difficult and rewarding trails in Tucson’s Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. To reach the trailhead, first take easy Bear Canyon Trail from the Visitors Center towards Seven Falls, for 0.8-miles. Then turn right onto the Phoneline Hiking Trail. After a half-mile moderate ascent, the Blackett’s Ridge Hiking Trail veers off to the right.
From here on out the Blackett’s Ridge Hiking Trail is pretty much a non-stop, heart-pumping ascent on rocky granite slab. The path first switchbacks up the side of the mountain, with the end-goal just visible in the distance.
As the trail gains elevation, outstanding views of the beautiful Santa Catalina Mountains fill the horizon.
Almost two-miles into the hike, a false peak plays headgames, making you think you’ve arrived. But don’t be fooled! After the trail climbs this rocky slope, there’s still over a mile remaining to Blackett’s Ridge.
A short dip offers a welcome breather before the trail makes its final ascent.
The final climb is a gnarly hike straight up the ridge. Looking backwards, excellent views of Tucson and the western mountains are a sweet reward.
At last, the Blackett’s Ridge Hiking Trail ends, on an increasingly narrow, sky-high ridge. Walk out as far as your confidence (and vertigo) allow. No handrails here! On either side dramatic cliffs drop down towards Sabino and Bear Canyons. And all around are some of the best views on this side of the Catalinas.
Total Nerdery In the 1930s, Don Everett, a teacher at the Southern Arizona School for Boys, named both Blackett’s Ridge and Hutch’s Pool Hiking Trails after a couple of his students. The trail is now a popular workout hike for locals.
Directions: From the intersection of the AZ-10 and Ina Road (in Tucson) head east on Ina Road (which becomes Sunrise Boulevard) and continue 14.8 miles for to North Sabino Canyon Road. Turn left onto North Sabino Canyon Road and continue 2 miles to the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area visitors center, on the right side of the road. The center is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
Mashing up long easy sections and short steep hills, the Goat Camp Hiking Trail winds deep into the gorgeous White Tank Mountains. Multiple peaks offer fantastic resting places and amazing 100-mile views! Spreading out below are Goat Camp Canyon and the farms just west of Phoenix. As a bonus, you’ll get lots of solitude on this anything-but-boring hike.
TRAILHEAD:20304 W. WHITE TANK MOUNTAIN ROAD, WADDELL•DIFFICULTY: difficult (but only for Two miles of the trail) • DISTANCE: 6.3 MILES (12.4 RT) • APPROX. TIME: 6.5 – 7.5 HOURS rt • ELEVATION GAIN: 1,730 FEET (124 STORIES) • APPROX. CALORIES BURNED: 1,860 – 2,100 rt • BEST TIME OF YEAR: oct. – april • PETS: YES • KID FRIENDLY: no • FACILITIES: YES. Not at trailhead, but in park • FEES: $6 DAY OR $85 ANNUAL MARICOPA COUNTY PASS
The first mile of the Goat Camp Hiking Trail is an easy stroll along a wide, sandy path. In the distance, a mountaintop butte marks a high point further up the trail.
Beside the path, an arroyo, strewn with huge white boulders, cuts through the desert floor. Following Summer monsoons, pools of water line the mountain’s tanks – reflecting bleached rock and turquoise sky.
After this first easy mile, the Goat Camp Hiking Trail veers right and crosses the arroyo. From here, it begins a modest, then difficult, 1.5 mile climb up the mountainside. Thisis the most difficult part of the hike.
The trail becomes increasingly narrow, rocky and steep, as it switchbacks upwards towards the butte. At the crest, the rock face, that appeared so teeny from the trailhead, soars dramatically overhead. Forty foot drops define the arroyo’s path down the mountain. Looking backwards, long views over Goat Canyon and western Phoenix fill the horizon.
Passing the sky-high rock formations at the crest, the Goat Camp Hiking Trail meanders modestly westward for the next half-mile. The trail then veers right again and begins another steep half-mile climb.
A second stunning peak is reached 3.25-miles into the Goat Camp Hiking Trail. Beneath an exposed stone rim, vast expanses of Saguaro lead out to hundred-mile views of the Valley. This is a perfect place to take a breather, or to turn around for a shorter 7-mile round-trip hike.
Continuing on, the Goat Camp Hiking Trail heads west once again. It approaches a row of Satellite towers adorning the top of the range. The remainder of the hike is mostly easy. Long stretches of trail wind gently around the range’s upper mountains. Outward views over the lower White Tanks, the Valley and the Estrella Mountains in the distance are beyond beautiful!
Finally, the Goat Camp Hiking Trail comes to its end, at a juncture with the Mesquite Hiking Trail. Turn around here to head back to the trailhead. Or, alternatively, turn right onto the Mesquite, then Mule Deer, Hiking Trail to form a 14.7-mile loop hike.
The Goat Camp Hiking Trail passes near many of the highest peaks in the White Tank Mountains. This includes 3,141′ Radio Summit and 4,081 Barry Goldwater Peaks.
(North Phoenix) From the northern intersection of I-17 and AZ-101, take AZ-101 west 13.5 miles to exit 9 / Olive Avenue. Turn right/west on Olive Avenue and continue 13.8 miles to the entrance to White Tank Mountain Regional Park. After entering the park, Take the second left onto North Black Canyon Drive. The trailhead is on the right.
(South Phoenix) From the southern intersection of I-17 and I-10, take I-10 west 18.4 miles to exit 124 / AZ-303. Drive 5.3 miles to exit 109 / Glendale Avenue. Turn left / west on Glendale Avenue and continue 0.5 miles to Cotton Lane. Turn right / north on Cotton Lane and drive 2 miles to Olive Avenue. Turn left / west on Olive Avenue and continue 4 miles to the entrance to White Tank Mountain Regional Park.After entering the park, Take the second left onto North Black Canyon Drive. The trailhead is on the right.
It’s hard not to shed a tear on this hike memorializing AZ’s 19 fallen Hotshots. Winding through beautiful Weaver Mountain and Yarnell Hill, the Granite Mountain Memorial Trail ends at the spot where these firefighters lost their battle with a wildfire. Here, crosses display each name. While plaques along the trail commemorate the lives of each hero.
TRAILHEAD: White Spar Hwy., Yarnell due to limited TRAILHEAD parking the HOTSHOT shuttle is recommended •DIFFICULTY: moderate • DISTANCE: 3.5 Miles (7 Miles Round Trip) • APPROX. TIME: 3.5-4.5 HOURS • ELEVATION GAIN: 1,200 FEET (86 STORIES) • APPROX. CALORIES BURNED: 1,050-1,190 RT • BEST TIME OF YEAR: oct. – may • PETS: YES • KID FRIENDLY: no • FACILITIES: yes (no water) • FEES: $5 recommended shuttle donation (cash only!)
The Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial Trail is an incredibly touching hike to make. It begins at a teeny, hillside park entrance, 3.5 miles from the spot where these firefighters lost their lives. Passing a large bronze memorial statue, the trail begins ascending Weaver Mountain, on a series of long switchbacks.
At 600-foot intervals, etched metal plaques, commemorate the lives of each firefighter. Set into the mountain’s large boulders, they bond firefighter and mountain together.
As the trail climbs two-miles up the mountain, beautiful views over Wickenburg and Vulture Peak spread out below.
Lizards keep company all along the trail, peeking out between the rocks.
After 2-miles, the Granite Mountain Hotshot Memorial Trail levels out. From here, it follows a ridgeline for the next mile.
A shaded observation deck sits on the side of the Yarnell Hill 3-miles into the hike. Informative panels describe the Hotshot’s battle to contain the wildfire.
A ring of stone baskets, surrounding 19 metal crosses, is visible from the deck. It is deeply sobering to see how very close to civilization the Hotshots Fatality Site is.
A Tribute Wall, hung with emblems and mementos from Firefighters and other well wishers, sits beside the Observation Deck.
Journey Hiking Trail
From the Observation Deck, the half-mile long Journey Trail switchbacks down to the Fatality site, 400 feet below. For those wanting to pay their respects up close, this is a moving area to do so.
Turnaround at the Observation Deck or Fatality Site to return to the trailhead.
Total Nerdery The 19 Granite Mountain Hotshot firefighters lost their lives on June 3, 2013, while fighting to control the Yarnell Hill wildfire. A series of unexpected shifts in the wind trapped them, as they attempted to reach safety. Their tragic story was depicted in the movie “Only the Brave.”
Directions From the intersection of I-17 and Carefree Hwy. / AZ-74 (in Phoenix) head west on AZ-74, towards Wickenburg, for 30.2 miles. Turn right / west onto US-60 and continue 9.6 miles to US-93. Head right / north on US-93 towards Congress and drive 5.5 miles to AZ-89 / White Spar Hwy. Turn right / north on AZ-89, towards Yarnell and continue for 0.6 miles to the Granite Hotshot Shuttle (beside Arrowhead Bar and Grill). NOTE: There are only 13 parking spots at the park entrance located 6.5 miles further along AZ-89. However, these fill quickly. So the shuttle is recommended.
Following the Woodchute Mountain ridgeline, this hike is loaded with insanely good red rock views. Bonus views of the Chino Valley and Prescott Mountains are also sprinkled all along the trail. Pretty sweet for a mostly-easy hike!
TRAILHEAD: FR 106D, north of Jerome •DIFFICULTY: Mostly easy • DISTANCE: 3.5 Miles (7 Miles Round Trip) • APPROX. TIME: 3.5-4.5 HOURS • ELEVATION GAIN: 600 FEET (43 STORIES) • APPROX. CALORIES BURNED: 910-1,050 RT • BEST TIME OF YEAR: year round • PETS: YES • KID FRIENDLY: yes • FACILITIES: yes at turnaround (no water) • FEES: none
Kicking off near the top of Woodchute Mountain, this hiking trail serves up the kinda’ views typically found only after a challenging ascent. After just a half-mile of easy hiking, there are stunning views of Mingus Mountain, with 89A gracefully winding through its hills.
A couple of short, mild ascents, lead to a level trail that skims the mountain’s high ridgeline. For the next 1.5 miles, long views over the Chino Valley, Prescott Mountains and Sedona red rocks roll out on either side.
After 2- miles of hiking, the trail makes a gentle descent and enters a blissfully shaded area. Here, it officially enters the Woodchute Wilderness Area. Beside the trail, a meadow-lined cattle tank reflects trees and sky.
Next, a few switchbacks lead up to a mountain plateau. This modestly-steep half-mile, is the hardest part of the overlook hike. At the top, the trail flattens out again, meandering between shady Pines. At 3.25 miles, a well-worn side trail veers right and heads to the overlook. Standing on the rim, awesome views of Jerome, the Sedona red rocks and Mount Humphreys fill the horizon.
Turn back here to complete the overlook hike. Or, for those looking for an added challenge, continue on the Woodchute Hiking Trail for another 3.75 miles. This steep, less defined, section descends 2,000′, on numerous switchbacks, to the trail’s ends at Forest Road 318A. There are stunning views of the Chino Valley in this section too.
Loggers cut Pine from this mountain and used it to reinforce the mining tunnels in Jerome. The logs were sent down a chute on the mountain’s north side, to a small railroad that carried them to the mines. And, voila, Woodchute Mountain was named.
Directions From the intersection of I-17 and AZ-260 (near Camp Verde), turn onto AZ-260, heading north towards Cottonwood. Drive 12.35 miles on AZ-260 to AZ-89A. Turn left / north onto AZ-89A and continue 16.8 miles (passing through Jerome) to Forest Road 106 (on the right, directly across from the Mingus Mountain Summit Rest Area). At FR-106, turn right on and continue for 0.2 miles to FR-106D. Turn left onto FR-106D and drive 0.7 miles (past a turnaround loop and vault toilet) to the trailhead.
Hike this shady Pine & Oak lined trail to the top of Spruce Mountain. The Groom Creek Hiking Trail meanders gently upwards to a high Watchtower. From the lookout, stunning 360° views of Granite Mountain, the Chino Valley and Prescott National Forest are a sweet reward. This trail’s consistent 3.5 mile ascent makes it a favorite training hike for those prepping for the Grand Canyon or Havasu Falls.
TRAILHEADs: senator hwy / FR 52, south of prescott •DIFFICULTY: moderate • DISTANCE: 9 MILE Loop • APPROX. TIME: 4.5-5.5 HOURS • ELEVATION GAIN: 1,375 FEET (98 STORIES) • APPROX. CALORIES BURNED: 1,350-1,530 RT • BEST TIME OF YEAR: year round • PETS: YES • KID FRIENDLY: no • FACILITIES: yes (no water) • FEES: none
The Groom Creek Hiking Trail Loop offers up a well shaded trail, with notable views at the top. Meandering though a pristine forest of Pine and Oak, this hike makes a wide loop up and down Spruce Mountain. In Spring and Summer, expanses of yellow and white wildflowers lit upon by busy bees and chirping birds, fill the mountain base with activity.
For theshortest route to the top, head left/clockwise from the trailhead. This leg is a scant 3.5 miles. Many people hike it both in & out for a shorter, 7-mile, trek. Heading this direction, be sure to stop and check out the huge outcropping of boulders about a quarter mile into the hike.
These ginormous stones, layered one atop another, create a fun maze of hidden pathways. Their nocks and crannies are a blast to explore. For families looking for a short adventure, this entertaining spot is an ideal turnaround point.
The tall Ponderosas and wide strands of Oak that line the Groom Creek Hiking Trail keep it refreshingly shaded. The trade off is limited views during most of the hike. However, a nice expanse, with long views, opens up 1.5 miles into the hike.
At the peak, a side-trail veers left and leads to a mountaintop watchtower. Here there are excellent 360° views of the Chino Valley, Prescott, Granite and Union Mountains and Willow and Watson Lakes.
If the tower is occupied, the firefighter will often let you in, providing a glimpse of watchtower life. Heading down from this high roost, the trail crosses back over the Spruce Mountain Picnic area, replete withwooden picnic tables and vault toilet. Perfect for a well deserved break.
Continuing on, the Groom Creek hiking trail flattens out and follows the ridge for the next 1.5 miles. Looking across the treelined peeks you can pick out the Union Mountain Watchtower on the next mountain over.
At 6 miles the trail intersects the Isabella Trail. Here it veers right and starts its slow, even descent. Wide strands of Gamble Oak line the path in some areas with a low-slung beauty. And a few openings in the trees reveal Thumb Butte, with Granite Mountain behind it.
The last 2 miles of the Groom Creek hiking trail are pleasantly sandy and mostly flat. Here flowers, birds and bees make a renewed appearance. Keeping company until the trailhead is reached once again.
The Groom Creek Hiking Trail is named for Colonel Bob Groom, who settled the area in 1862. Groom was the original surveyor for what is now the city of Prescott.
Directions From the intersection of Gurley and Sheldon Streets (in Prescott) head west on Gurley for .65 miles to South Mount Vernon Avenue. Turn left/south onto Mount Vernon Ave. (which becomes Senator Hwy./Forest Road 52) and continue for 6.5 miles to the Groom Creek Trailhead on the left side of the road (just across the street from the Groom Creek Horse Campground).
Each snippet of this easy rim trail is stunningly beautiful! With five trailheads to choose from, it’s a breeze to hike just a mile or two, or make the full 11-mile loop. Either way, the Sycamore Rim Hiking Trail is chock-a-block full of jaw-droppingly good views, seasonal waterfalls, wildflowers and more.
TRAILHEADS: Forest Roads 109, 56 or 527, East of Williams •DIFFICULTY: EASY • DISTANCE: 11-MILE Loop or 1 to 4 mile sections • APPROX. TIME: 6.5 – 7.5 HOURS for full loop • ELEVATION GAIN: 500 FEET (36 STORIES) • APPROX. CALORIES BURNED: 1,445-1,665 for full loop • BEST TIME OF YEAR: april – october • PETS: YES WITH LEASHES • KID FRIENDLY: Yes • FACILITIES: YES (but no water) • FEES: None
Each of the Sycamore Rim Hiking Trail’s five gorgeous, easily accessible, trailhead sections are described below, starting at the Sycamore Falls Trailhead and moving counterclockwise around the loop. Each bit is uniquely beautiful, with features such as seasonal waterfalls, dramatic ravines, lily pad filled pools or stunning views.
Sycamore Falls Trailhead to Vista Point
This easy 1.65-mile section follows the northern rim of the canyon and includes one of the hikes main features — Sycamore Falls. From the Trailhead, a 1/4-mile access trail leads past Golden Falls, to the top of stunning Sycamore Falls. Cross the creek, just above Sycamore Falls, to access the loop trail. Then turn right/east to reach Vista Point.
When flowing, during Monsoon Season or after spring melts, almost 70′ high Sycamore Falls is a site to behold! It roars over a deep drop in the rocky canyon to the creek below. By contrast, in early summer and late fall, the flow disappears, leaving the area bone-dry.
Turning right onto the Sycamore Rim Hiking Trail loop, the path meanders between Ponderosa Pine Forests and open mesa-top meadows.
To the right of the path, the canyon drops off, showing off gorgeous views of the canyon, ravines and southern ranges.
Vista Point Trailhead to Dow Spring
This easy 3.5-mile section touts the best view of Sycamore Canyon and passes lovely ponds and marshes. From the Vista Point Trailhead, a 1/4-mile access trail leads south to the Sycamore Rim Hiking Trail Loop. Turn left /east on the loop trailto reach Dow Spring.
From the Vista Point access, the Sycamore Loop Trail first follows the northern rim of the canyon. Then, after about 2 miles, it curves northwards, hugging the canyon rim abovelush Sycamore Creek.
As the path nears Dow Spring, it drops to creek level. In Spring and Summer the area’s intimate pools are filled with small cascades and yellow-blossomed waterlilies. While frogs, big and small, sing and croak loudly in the reeds.
Around the pools, dense marshes of cattails, wildflowers and flitting butterflies frame the creek.
Dow Spring Trailhead to KA Hill Trailhead
This easy 1.15-mile section crosses the wide, lovely meadows and gentle stream flowing between Dow Spring and KA Hill. From the Dow Springs Trailhead a short access trail heads west to the Sycamore Rim Hiking Trail Loop. Turn right/north to reach the KA Hill Trailhead.
Near the intersection of the Doe Spring Access and Loop Trails, are the remains of a turn-of-the-century logging cabin, and railroad. These are some of the last remnants of a once booming logging trade along historic Overland Road.
Continuing right/north, the trail heads down a short hill, then follows a pristine, gently winding stream. Domestic sheep roam this area, leaving funny little cloven tracks across the path and pleasant bell sounds in the distance. This pretty section ends at the KA Hill Trailhead on Forest Road 56.
KA Hill Trailhead to Pomeroy Tanks
This 3.6-mile long section starts off with a 1.25-mile, moderate, 500′ ascent to the top of KA Hill. From the trailhead, cross Forest Road 59 and head west to reach Pomeroy Tanks. For those planning to tackle the full 11-mile loop, this is a great starting point. The trailhead parking area sits right on the trail, and the only moderately steep portion of the loop can be knocked off first!
The moderate climb up KA Hill is shaded by tall Ponderosa Pines, followed by Oak and Aspen as the trail ascends. From the hilltop, expansive views spread out between the trees. Garfield Plain, Kendrick Mountain and Humphreys Peak are visible to the east. While Williams Mountain can be seen to the west. From KA peak, the next mile is a super easy downhill.
The trail then flattens out, and meanders through an open expanses of pine, before crossing Forest Road 139. From here to Pomeroy Tanks, the trail is a little harder to follow. It first crosses a wide stoney field marked with strategically placed (but sometimes hard to see) cairns. Then it meanders alongside a gentle stream towards Pomeroy Tanks. The tanks are gorgeous when full! Small waterfalls course around dramatic stone cliffs. While tranquil pools offer sanctuary to colorful dragonflies and wildflowers. Cross the creek to continue around the loop.
Pomeroy Tanks Trailhead to Sycamore Falls
This easy 1.15-mile section follows a lovely, seasonal, forest-lined stream. From the Pomeroy Tanks Trailhead a 1/2-mile access trail heads west to the Sycamore Rim Hiking Trail Loop. Turn right/east to reach Sycamore Falls.
This trail section crosses the stream multiple times as it wanders southeast towards Sycamore Falls. During snow melts and Monsoon Season there are tons of small babbling cascades and grassy marshes to dip your toes into.
Gorgeous, 21-mile long, Sycamore Canyon winds south through three national forests: Coconino, Kaibab and Prescott.
Directions: From I-40 (between Flagstaff and Williams) take the Parks / Garland Prairie exit #167. Head south on Garfield Prairie / Forest Road #141, and drive 9.25 miles to a T-Intersection with FR 527 / Thomas Loop Road. Then, to reach:
1. Sycamore Falls Trailhead – Turn right /north onto FR 527 / Thomas Loop Road, and continue 0.75 miles to Forest Road 141. Turn left /east and drive 3 miles to Forest Road 109. Turn left / south onto Forest Road 109 and continue for 3.35 miles to the trailhead parking lot. Located on the left/north side of the FR 109.
2. Vista Point Trailhead – Turn right /north onto FR 527 / Thomas Loop Road, and continue 0.75 miles to Forest Road 141. Turn left /east and drive 1.75 miles to Forest Road 56. Turn left / south onto Forest Road 56 and continue for 3.85 miles to the trailhead parking lot. Located on the left/east side of the FR 56.
3. Dow Springs Trailhead – Turn left /south onto FR 527 / Thomas Loop Road, and continue another 0.5 miles to the trailhead parking lot on the right/west side of the FR 527.
4. KA Hill Trailhead – Turn right /north onto FR 527 / Thomas Loop Road, and continue 0.75 miles to Forest Road 141. Turn left/east and drive 1.75 miles to Forest Road 56. Turn left/south onto Forest Road 56 and continue for 1.8 miles to the trailhead parking lot. Located on the left/east side of the FR 56.
5. Pomeroy Tanks Trailhead – Turn right /north onto FR 527 / Thomas Loop Road, and continue 0.75 miles to Forest Road 141. Turn left/east and drive 3 miles to Forest Road 109. Turn left/south onto Forest Road 109 and continue for 2.4 miles to the trailhead parking lot. Located on the left/east side of the FR 109.
These forest roads are well-graded gravel, and are suitable for passenger cars.
This short little alpine hike is loaded with history and is a blast to explore. In under 2 miles, the Veit Springs Trail passes Native American pictographs, early pioneer structures and a babbling spring. This perennial water source, which has drawn people to the area for ages, continues to make this a cool destination.
Nestled into the mountainside, just below Arizona Snowbowl, are a number of babbling springs which have drawn nomadic tribes and early settlers for centuries. The Veit Springs Hiking Trail follows an old, well shaded, jeep road towards these springs.
A quarter mile along the road, a trail splits off to the left. To hike the loop, you can either turn here, or hike straight along the road (see trail map link below). Either direction reaches the Lamar Haines Memorial Wildlife Area in three quarters of a mile. This historic area is clearly defined by a large plaque commemorating Haines, a popular Flagstaff conservationist.
From the left side of the plaque a number of short trails fan out. These lead to the remnants of the 1920’s Jenks Family settlement and the area’s springs. The Jenks’ dilapidated cabin lies in ruins in front of a huge boulder.
Past the cabin, a rustic stone structure shelters a bubbling, fresh water spring. And a few yards further on, a low open area reveals yet another spring fed bog.
To the right of the spring house, a second stone structure is built into a gap in the base of the surrounding basalt cliffs.
Exploring the cliff bases that line the area, a triangular cave is flanked by colorful Native American pictographs. The image appears to signal the value of water in the area hundreds of years ago. Follow either the road or trail to complete the loop and return to the trailhead.
The 160 acre Lamar Haines Wildlife Area originally became the property of Ludwig Veit in 1892, under the Homestead act. In 1928 it was purchased and settled by the Jenks Family. Then, in 1948, it was acquired by Arizona Game & Fish as a secure water source for area wildlife.
Directions From the intersection of 180A and Snowbowl Road (in Flagstaff), turn north onto Snowbowl Road and drive 4.2 miles to a small turnout on the right side of the road. Near the trailhead a large sign shows the location of the trail’s historic features.