5 Dog-Friendly Water Hikes in Arizona


Summer is in full swing and we’re all feeling it. I might be melting, but I know our dogs are having it even worse than I am.

I think as humans we tend to overcredit our pets and think they can handle the heat when we can’t, and maybe they can, but as new Arizonans the heat has taken a toll on our mother-pupper adventures.

So we’ve been on the lookout for water hikes, water trips, water activities, you name it. We’ve swam, flopped, and dived into as many waterfalls, pools, and lakes as we can. So here’s a few of our favorites so you and your pup can cool down, too.

Fossil Springs/Creek Trail

8 miles in and you’ll be howling with joy. There are two watering holes along the trail and the furthest one, about an extra mile past the first, is home to a beautiful waterfall. We spent about two hours at the first river and swam to our hearts’ content. Then we made our way to the waterfall and dipped our paws in for a bit before heading back up the trail. All and all, it was the perfect swimming hole for a human and her dog.

Lake Powell

Another great spot in Northern Arizona is Lake Powell. Although quite busy, we kayaked our way across the lake and found a little cove all to ourselves. We swam, kayaked, and explored the sandstone cliffs before we camped out on our side of the lake that we had all to ourselves.

Rory’s favorite thing to do at the lake is watch jet skis as she had never seen one before. So we all had a laugh in the water as Rory sat next to us head-cocked and very confused.

Water Wheel Falls

Up in Payson you can find Water Wheel Falls, a quick 2 mile hike in and out brings you to a few fancy waterfalls and a little swimming hole between the trail and the cliff. People bring floaties and coolers to hang out by Nature’s version of a pool and dogs enjoy it, too! We took Rory up and around the first falls to have an area to ourselves. We swam in waist high water and could see the bottom of the river easily.

*Disclaimer: Do NOT hike this hike during Monsoon season. There have been multiple flash floods here that have swept people away. Please be sure to check the weather and do not bring children or dogs who do not know how to swim to this area. Always be safe before deciding to visit waterfall hikes here in Arizona!

Red Rock Crossing from Cathedral Rock

Sedona is the place to be during the summers if you’re from Phoenix. Before the crazy summer season started, we made our way to Red Rock Crossing from Cathedral Rock trail to spend an afternoon wading in the river. This is the perfect water hike for dogs just getting their feet wet (literally!) for the first time. The water is calm enough to trek across and is shallow enough to not overwhelm your pup. We were able to sit on a rock in the river and watch Rory gallop through the river without getting swept away. Be sure to pack out whatever you pack in, including dog poop here as Oak Creek River drains into Sedona!

Butcher Recreation Area

Just outside Phoenix, you can find Butcher Recreation Area. This lake is HUGE and offers a ton of options for dog friendly hiking and swimming. Dogs are NOT allowed on the beach itself, but there is a trail directly to the left of the beach that leads down into some dog accessible water spots and a nice cove with shade for the humans, too.

Many people bring their SUP boards and kayaks out onto the lake as the beach area is a no wake zone, making it easy to paddle and float about. Get your pup on a kayak and head on out past the wake zone to the left to have a little cove all to yourself. If you decide to hike the trail, find your way down the side of the trail (carefully of course!) and throw your pup’s floaty toys around for a good time.

Even though many people think Arizona is just desert, there is much more than that available to both puppers and people during the summer. Find your way to a water hike or lake this summer and you won’t be sorry. Your pups will thank me later.

As always, be safe, stay afloat, and keep it wild.


This blog was thoughtfully written by Erin Maxon.  You can find her on Instagram @withdogshetravels.

* Please remember to hike at your own risk. To learn more please refer to our Hiking Disclaimer.

Jacey WestComment