Where to Go Hiking Right Now: Fall 2016 Edition

Disclaimer: Hiking can be a dangerous activity and should be undertaken with caution. It is your responsibility to study routes, alert others to your plans, assess local conditions, bring the appropriate gear, and assure that these hikes are within your ability level before attempting any hike. Difficultly levels are subjectively assigned by me from personal experience on each trail at the time I hiked it, and may not be reflective of your experience level or physical fitness. 


Fall is here and it’s prime time hiking season throughout Arizona.

But, do you hate reading through guide books? Do you find HikeArizona impossible to navigate? Don’t worry, we’ve picked out all the best options for you. And, new for this edition, we’ve included links to all the relevant posts here on LP.

See you on the trails!


EASY


ARAVAIPA CANYON

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I made myself promise that I was only going to post one picture per hike. It will be easier to read that way, I thought. NOPE. Three sentences in and we’re breaking that rule:

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Okay, maybe one more:

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Aravaipa Canyon is the best hike in Arizona. Full stop. And it is super easy. Downsides? Permits are required and can be really hard to come by this time of year. However, if your group is small and you’re willing to try the middle of the week you’ve still got a chance.

DISTANCE: 11 mi each way (maximum)

DETAILS: HikeArizona

LP POSTS: In The Heart of Everything, Paradise Found, Aravaipa Canyon: a Love Letter


SYCAMORE CANYON via 144

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Can’t stand the Sedona bros? Me neither. Lucky for us Sycamore Canyon is 80% as good as West Fork of Oak Creek with 80% fewer people. Warning though, the first couple hundred yards of this hike are stupid hard.

DISTANCE: 4 mi each way

DETAILS: HikeArizona


WEST CLEAR CREEK (to LAST CROSSING)

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Big views. Cool water. Easy walking. West Clear Creek is criminally underrated.

Or, at least it was criminally under rated until the NFS started (wisely) limiting entry to the nearby and ballistically popular Fossil Springs. Usage is up, but few people walk more than a mile from the parking lot.

DISTANCE: 4.5 mi each way

DETAILS: HikeArizona

LP POSTS: The Hike that Wasn’t Supposed to Happen, Spring Fly Fishing West Clear Creek


WEST PINTO to OAK FLAT

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Even though the Superstitions butt right up against Phoenix, essentially no-one visits the eastern side of the range. That’s a shame, because the area is chock-full of history, big views, and easy walking.

DISTANCE: 2.5 mi each way

DETAILS: HikeArizona

LP POSTS: Ding, Dong, Summer’s Dead


HORTON CREEK

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Just look at that face. That’s a face that says, “PLEASE GOD DON’T DROP ME INTO THE STREAM THANKS, PARENTS FOR HELPING ME BUILD A LIFETIME APPRECIATION FOR THE OUTDOORS!”

If Jack-a-mundi likes Horton Creek you will too. Check the weather before you go though, this hike is a little high and it could be awfully cold as winter sets in. 

DISTANCE: 3.5 mi each way

DETAILS: HikeArizona

LP POSTS: Jack Hears a Who!


WET BEAVER CREEK

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Another Red Rocks alternative, Wet Beaver Creek comes into its own as the crowds disappear with the summer heat. Things are very, very easy for the first couple of miles, but the trail does steepen over the last mile or so before Bell Crossing.

DISTANCE: 3.5 mi each way

DETAILS: HikeArizona

LP POSTS: You’re Killing me Smalls


MEDIUM


HELL’S HOLE

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As the skinniness in this picture indicates, its been a while since I’ve been back to Hell’s Hole. Think of it as Hell’s Gate-lite.

DISTANCE: 5.3 mi each way

DETAILS: HikeArizona


CHIRICAHUA BIG LOOP

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Look, there is no way to say this without sounding like I’m bragging: I’ve been lucky enough to travel a lot. Tibet, Central America, Europe, I’ve done them all. That being said, the Chiricauhas are one of the most amazing places I’ve seen. Littered with thousands (millions?) of building sized rock spires, the whole place feels like you’re wandering some sort of Flintstones downtown. Unfortunately the Chiricahuas are long way from anywhere, so you are going to want to get the most of your trip. The Big Loop will take you through all the highlights.

DISTANCE: 8.5 mi round trip

DETAILS: HikeArizona

LP POSTS: Rocking the Rocks


HARD


REAVIS RANCH via 109N

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Reavis Ranch is close to nowhere, requires a long hike from any direction, and can get awfully cold awfully early in the season, yet it’s packed all fall. Why? Apples.

In the late 1800s Reavis himself planted an apple orchard that produces a variety of apples that you can’t buy in the store. Sweet, but soft, and quite small they are incredible and well worth the hike.

DISTANCE: 9.5 mi each way

DETAILS: HikeArizona

LP POSTS: How ‘Bout Them Apples


 

MT.HUMPREY’S via INNER BASIN

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You don’t have much time left for this one– Humpreys has already had its first snow of the season. But, if you are going to hike Arizona’s tallest peak do yourself a favor and hike it from the north. Sure, its a little longer, but the views are better and the crowds are thinner.

DISTANCE: 8.2 mi each way

DETAILS: HikeArizona


BRIGHT ANGEL to INDIAN GARDEN (or PLATEAU POINT)

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This is the smart Grand Canyon hike. The reasonable Grand Canyon hike. Sure, its hard, but if you are in somewhat good shape it won’t kill you. I can’t say that for the Grand Canyon hike below.

DISTANCE: 4.5 mi each way to Indian Garden, 6 mi each way to Plateau Point

DETAILS: NPS

LP POSTS: How to Not Go Insane While Hiking the Grand Canyon this Summer, Staircase to Heaven


VERY HARD


HELL’S GATE:

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I love Hell’s Gate. It’s beautiful. It’s peaceful. I’ve even heard the fishing is good. However:

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So is it worth it?

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Yep.

DISTANCE: 7 mi each way

DETAILS: HikeArizona

LP POSTS: Highway to Hell


RIM to RIVER to RIM

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Look, NPS tell you explicitly not to do this hike:

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And frankly, they’re probably right.

But some of us like doing stupid things. If you are going to go, head down South Kaibab, where the views are better…

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…and go up Bright Angel…

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…where the hiking is (somewhat) easier.

DISTANCE: 13.7 mi round trip

DETAILS: Backpacker

LP POSTS: There and Back Again


That’s all we’ve got! Check back in a couple of months for the winter update.


Disclaimer: This post, and all posts on LesserPlaces, may contain affiliate links– links that allow me to receive a small kickback at no additional cost to you when you shop through them. This is how we keep the lights on. 



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Max Wilson is a graduate student studying ecology at Arizona State University. He writes here at Lesser Places, occasionally for Backpacker.com, and even more occasionally for scientific journals. You can follow him on twitter @maxomillions.

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