Popular | Arizona's Top Hikes for 2016
If 2016 is half as good as 2015 then I'll be one happy camper. To make sure we kick 2016 off with a bang I developed a list of Arizona's top 5 hikes for 2016. These hikes are five of my personal favorites and will be revisiting this year.
*Note: This article was originally written for Life is Good Arizona. The owners of this awesome online mag were gracious enough to allow me to submit this as a guest post which you can find by
Reavis Ranch; Superstition Wilderness
Reavis Ranch is one of the premier hikes in the Eastern Superstitions and is one of my personal favorites. There are three trails leading to the old homestead; each varying in difficulty and length.
This hidden gem is part of the lore and beauty of the Superstitions. I mean, who would have guessed there would be apple orchards in the heart of the Superstition Mountains!? At the end of this gorgeous hike sits Reavis Valley, named after the hermit Elisha Reavis who settled here in the late 1800’s. After Reavis’s death, entrepreneurs and ranchers took over the site where they planted apple orchards and took crowds of tourists by horse and carriage to visit the ranch. The orchards are now very overgrown but still produce many apples that you are free to enjoy. This hike is best done as an overnight trip so find one of the many campsites located in the large valley and rest from a great day of hiking.
The Bright Angel Trail is the Grand Canyon National Park's most popular and safest trail. The well maintained trail has drinking water and covered rest-houses along the way. This route dates back to 1891 and has been the premier hiking trail of the Grand Canyon ever since. There is little more to say about this epic tail other than "if you haven't been there, get there".
Located on the South Rim, the Bright Angel Trail is located just west of Kolb Studio. There are several lodges near the trailhead and all are within walking distance. The trail begins with an almost endless amount of switchbacks that cuts into the canyon walls. There are great photo opportunities of massive cliffs and rock formations as well as an abundance of plant life and natural water flows. The trail weaves its way through the canyon until you eventually see the mighty Colorado River, the creator of this natural wonder. After passing over the river via bridge you will come to a pleasant creek that feeds into the Colorado. Alongside the creek are several campsites which makes up Bright Angel Campground.
If you aren’t one of the lucky few selected for overnight backcountry permits there are several great turnaround spots along the way. The first is the Mile-and-a-Half Resthouse which is located exactly 1.6 miles (not the 1.5 miles the name suggests) from the rim. Another 1.5 miles from the Resthouse you will come to another Resthouse. Right at 4.5 miles you will find Indian Garden which is a popular resting and turning around spot for most people. It is an oasis in the desert and was deliberately set up for tourists in 1903. There is a campsite there with large Cottonwood trees and several picnic type areas.
Mt. Baldy Loop; White Mountains
Mt. Baldy is a lush, beautiful hike with amazing views through the forests of the White Mountains. As the 5th highest peak in the state of Arizona (2nd outside of Flagstaff’s San Francisco Peaks), Mt. Baldy elevates to a whopping 11,409 feet. The peak rises above the tree line which gives the peak its “bald” name.
The actual round trip hike will take all day so getting up early for this one is essential. The hike begins through a grass valley and ascends into aspen and pine forests. Along the way you will cross over creeks, get breathtaking views of the forests, and even pass remains of a crashed airplane from 50 years ago. It is a really unique thing to see on a hike and ask that you view and leave the remains alone.
Eventually you will make your way to “the top” of Mt. Baldy. This isn’t really the summit of the mountain but members of the White Mountain Apache Tribe ask non-tribal visitors to either turn around at this point or make a loop out of the trip by taking the West Baldy Trail back. This trail offers views, beautiful vegetation, and the fair amount of solitude. It also is a sense of accomplishment and reverence to summit a mountain as beautiful and respected as this one.
The Inner Basin Trail is really a jewel of a hike located in the heart of the San Francisco Peaks. If you like strolling through aspen groves on well-marked and photogenic trail than this is the hike for you!
The trail towards the inner basin of an extinct volcano begins at the picturesque Lockett Meadow which is painted gold in the fall by aspen groves. Surrounding the meadow are 8 campsites available for a fee. The trail leads you on a gradual uphill journey through thick aspen groves and eventually to a beautiful open meadow known as the Inner Basin. Here you will find an explosion of colors and a wide open view of the majestic San Francisco Peaks. This short, high altitude hike is one that just cannot be missed in 2016.
*Click here to see an article I wrote about this trail published at AZCentral.
Havasupai is one of the most well-known and photographed waterfall destinations in the world. Consisting of five major waterfalls including the most famous “Havasu Falls”, this oasis in the desert should be on the top of any backpackers bucket list.
The trek down to Supai, AZ is 8 miles and is quite an easy stroll through the desert (the hike back up is another story). The village, which is the only place in the U.S. that still receives its mail via mule, is located near the waterfalls and the trail travels directly through “Main Street”.
After a visit to Havasu Falls (the first and most famous waterfall), I recommend going downstream to Mooney Falls. Now beware, getting down to Mooney Falls can be quite scary and dangerous for those who are afraid of heights as you have to use chains and rebar to scale down the side of a canyon. There are ladders and mounted chains for support. Once down, enjoy the falls and make your way to Beaver falls. A few more miles of hiking will bring you to the confluence of the Colorado River where aqua blue water mixes with the muddy Colorado. When you have sufficiently enjoyed all of the falls, canyons, cliff jumping, swimming, and everything else, clean up your site better than you found it and leave with good memories. This hike has gained quite a reputation for it’s unreal aqua blue and picturesque falls so be sure to plan months in advance!
So there you have it; five can’t miss hikes for 2016. The New Year is right around the corner and these five hikes should definitely find their way onto your 2016 adventure bucket lists! As always, we ask that you follow basic trail etiquette and Leave No Trace principals by taking only pictures and leaving only footprints. Now get out and enjoy our great state!