Monday, September 12, 2016

10 Great Day Hikes in Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park
Planning a trip to Arizona? Be sure to add these hikes to your itinerary!

Freeman Homestead Trail
Saguaro National Park
Located in the Saguaro National Park’s east district (aka Rincon Mountain District), the Freeman Homestead Trail traverses through a beautiful yet also clearly inhospitable desert landscape. The 1.18-mile trail is a walk through a classic Sonoran desert landscape of cholla, prickly pear and barrel cactus with barren mountain ranges lining the horizon. A number of small animals also can be spotted along the way, including wrens, flickers, ground squirrels and cardinals.

South Rim Trail
Grand Canyon National Park
Among the canyon’s most spectacular sights can be seen within walking distance of Grand Canyon Village, the national park’s gateway to the South Rim. While the South Rim Trail extends several miles along the canyon edge, the short eastern section is perfect for a day hike with children. They’ll be able to see the Colorado River a mile below and an array of incredible buttes, towers and ridges and that stretch up to 10 miles away on the canyon’s other side.

Turn long Grand Canyon trails into day hikes
Many of Grand Canyon National Park’s trails head into the backcountry by going up and down steep canyon sides, offering fantastic adventures for backpackers. That’s not so great for families, especially with small children, though, who often find themselves limited to the crowded paved rim trails. Still, a small segment of any of those backcountry trails can be done as a day hike.

Grandview Trail
Grand Canyon National Park
Not all of the Grand Canyon National Park’s South Rim trails begin at Grand Canyon Village or require a shuttle to reach. Primary among them is the Grandview Trail. The steep trail heads into the canyon, connecting with other routes and offering interesting spurs. A segments of it can be done as a 2.2-mile round trip day hike, but you’ll need to be in shape, and any children with you will need to be in their teens.

Giant Logs Trail
Petrified Forest National Park
Day hikers can “travel” 225 million years back in time on the Giant Logs Trail at Petrified Forest National Park. The national park is a literal forest of fallen trees, cycads and ginkgoes that grew about 225 million years ago when a humid, sub-tropical climate dominated this part of the world.

Horseshoe Bend Trail
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
Most people think the Grand Canyon’s best sites all sit north of Flagstaff. While those views and hikes are no doubt fantastic, there are scattered other spots that also offer breathtaking vistas. One such site is the Horseshoe Bend Trail, which offers a perfect perch for enjoying the sunset.

BONUS: Kid-friendly programs plentiful at Grand Canyon
Activities abound at Grand Canyon National Park to teach children about the natural wonder before them as well as the environment in general. 

Learn more about national park day hiking trails in my Best Sights to See at America’s National Parks series.