3 Easy Hikes in Northern Arizona

Categories: Outdoors

Nina Gruber
For those of us who fear this hot object
For those looking to escape the Valley's heat, we introduce some hikes just a bit north and therefore a bit cooler in these summer months. Here are three (of countless more) options for beautiful and accessible trails for the hikers among us who aren't loving the weather right now.

See also:
5 Easy Hikes for Beginners in Metro Phoenix
10 Favorite Hikes in the Valley

Sandy's Canyon Trail
A brief path that leads to a cross-state trail just outside Flagstaff, Sandy's Canyon packs plenty of photo opportunities in its two-mile roundtrip. From the trailhead, the hike begins with spectacular views of the San Francisco Peaks and then descends into both Sandy's Canyon and Walnut Canyon, passing through ponderosas and aspens along the descent. The treat at the end of the trail is not that it levels out, but that at this point, huge petrified sand dunes provide a magnificent sight reminiscent of the Grand Canyon's cliffs. The end of the trail is marked by its intersection with the Arizona Trail, which can be followed for more adventures.

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JohnQ.Public topcommenter

Did West Fork this weekend and it was as described, but better.  As you said above, the creek is a "glorious addition" and crossing it 10 times added to the fun and adventure of the hike.  Highly recommend it.

WreckItWalsh moderator communitymanager

West Fork is awesome in the fall. A few pieces of advice with West Fork: parking is very limited in the parking lot and fills up quickly! Get to the parking lot before 8am in the fall for a remote chance at getting a spot otherwise you'll be parking in the road up to 1-2 miles away from the trailhead. Originally parking on the road meant you had to buy a Red Rock Pass for 5 or 10 dollars. As of Fall 2012, the Red Rock Pass was not necessary. I would advise call the ranger station ahead of time and ask if its needed or not so you don't get a ticket.  The trail is 3 miles with an additional "11-mile option" at the end like Nina said, but this 11-mile option turns into a full water hike as the land trail completely ends. In the fall the water is absolutely freezing!

Hope this helps.

JohnQ.Public topcommenter like.author.displayName 1 Like

If you like boulder hopping, I'd suggest Tonto Natural Bridge which is just a couple miles north of Payson.  The payoff is a huge travertine cavern with a water fall at one end.  There are stairs down one side of it, but take the other way down and switch back along the canyon wall and boulder hop into the cavern.  One of our favorite places in Arizona.

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