The Arizona Trail crosses the state from south to north, beginning at the Mexican border and ending a stone’s throw from Utah. Known for showcasing a variety of ecosystems — mountains, canyons, flatlands, and deserts — the trail includes wilderness areas, historic sites (such as the cliff dwellings at Tonto and Walnut Canyon National Monument), and the Grand Canyon. Many trail-friendly communities dot the path, from old mining towns like Kearny to mountain town hotspots like Flagstaff. “If you’re just getting into the desert hiking scene, this is a great trail to start,” says LaRuff.
The trail was completed in 2011, and unlike any of its predecessors, was also designed for mountain bikers. That means unusual features (at least for hikers) like berms.
Time to Complete: 2 months
Terrain: Highly varied, from mountain passes to canyons. Not for summer hiking, when extreme temperatures can kill you.
Best Segment You Can Do In a Day: Picketpost Trailhead (11.5 miles one-way) is a saguaro-studded segment of the Arizona Trail that winds through the Sonoran Desert along the base of Picketpost Mountain.
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