Today is Earth Day! And if you ask me, there’s no better way to celebrate than to go on a hike!
One of the best parts of living in the Grand Canyon State is being surrounded by adventure. If you’ve been following On The Rocks then you know I’ve been checking outdoor activities off of my Arizona bucket list for over a year now!
In honor of Earth Day, I’m revisiting some of the most epic adventures from my On The Rocks series. I highly recommend you add ALL of these to your bucket list but why not start by checking one hike off the list this weekend?
Before you choose you’re hike for the weekend, all I ask is that you practice the “Leave No Trace” principals this weekend. What ever you pack in to a hike, make sure to pack it out. Let’s leave this beautiful state the way we found it!
Adventures in the Valley
Kayaking on the Salt River – Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch
I decided not to save the best for last! Kayaking on the Salt River will always be my favorite summer activity. The river finally back open for the summer and the Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch has the perfect setup for anyone looking to cool down on a hot summer day. When you arrive at the ranch, the guides provide you with your kayak, paddle, and a quick lesson and then send you on your way.
Starting at the Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch is the best starting point because you’re immediately met with fun rapids and an epic view of the bulldog cliffs. As if the beautiful mountain views, cool water, and stunning plant life aren’t enough for you, chances are you will see some wild horses!
Butcher Jones Trail – Tonto National Forest
Naturally, after sharing my favorite activity I must share my favorite hike. Butcher Jones Trail is stunning and insanely underrated. Can you tell that I adore this part of the Tonto National Forest?
Butcher Jones Trail is a 5.8-mile out and back trail with 636 feet of elevation gain. This gorgeous hike wraps along the Saguaro Lake and has breathtaking views of the cliffs and you’ll find yourself surrounded by Saguaros. hence, why it’s called “Saguaro Lake.” This is my favorite hike to bring visitors to because they get to see that Arizona is more than just a “dry desert.”
If you haven’t hiked Butcher Jones Trail yet and you’re not up for kayaking, this is my top recommendation for celebrating Earth Day this weekend!
Lone Tree via Peralta Canyon Trail – Superstition Wilderness
This 5.4-mile out-and-back hike has 1,463 feet of elevation gain making it the perfect trail if you’re looking for a great workout with unmatched views.
Located near Gold Canyon, AZ this trails hikers everything you could ever want when hiking in the Superstition Wilderness. Throughout the hike, you’re surrounded by jagged rock faces and you have the potential to spot bighorn sheep! But the real cherry on top of this hike is the grand views of Weavers Needle!
Wave Cave Trail – Superstition Wilderness
This trail is 3 miles long with 869 feet of elevation gain, but the final climb to the cave can sure kick your butt! This hike is rated hard but for any active person, I think it’s a very doable hike. If you’re looking for a quick adventure this weekend Wave Cave is the perfect pick for you!
EJ Peak – Tonto National Forest
Lone Mountain or “EJ Peak” is a really nice option for a quick hike just 35 minutes outside of Phoenix. This trail is just 2.3 miles long with 761 feet of elevation gain and it’s rated moderate.
EJ Peak has vast views of the Tonto National Forest at the peak and there’s even a really cool mailbox with a notebook to sign your name or write a note. This is the ideal hike if you’re looking for something really short but equally beautiful!
West Fork Trail – Munds Park
West Fork of Oak Creek Trail is a 6.5 mile out-and-back trail with 564 feet of elevation gain. While it is a longer hike than I’d usually recommend, it’s a hike that anyone and everyone should do at least once. I haven’t hiked it at this time of year but I imagine it’s so beautiful. This trail has 14 (give or take) river crosses and you’ll find yourself surrounded by beautiful rock formations and tall trees. It seems like the ideal Earth Day celebration.
Soldier Pass – Coconino National Forest
Soldier Pass Trail is a very popular 4.5-mile hike with 839 feet of elevation gain. While this trail is very busy, it doesn’t ever feel nearly as crowded as Devils Bridge (which I never recommend unless you’re willing to hike before sunrise) or Cathedral Rock. Then cave is awesome and worth the hike and it’s a must-do…if you can find parking!
Baldwin Trail to Cathedral Rock – Coconino National Forest
Everyone has to do this hike at least once. This is THE Sedona hike! I prefer getting to Cathedral Rock via Baldwin Trail because it makes the hike a bit more challenging but you also get to spend a lot of time along Oak Creek. This trail is 3.7 miles long with 931 feet of elevation gain and it’s rated difficult.
Fay Canyon Arch – Coconino National Forest
Fay Canyon Arch Trail is a moderate (I’d say easy) 1.5-mile hike with 246 feet of elevation gain. All Trails rates the trail “moderate” because all of the elevation gain happens in the last .25 miles. But this is an awesome hike if you want to avoid any weekend crowds!
Doe Mountain – Coconino National Forest
This is the perfect “quick” weekend hike that will give you everything you could ever want in Sedona. Doe Mountain Trail is just 1.5 miles long, out-and-back, and it’s rated moderate. It’s a bit of a calf burner but anyone can do it, just take your time! The top of the mountain is a beautiful mesa that overlooks all of Sedona.
Old Caves Crater Trail – Coconino National Forest
This trail was a last minute choice for us a few months ago and was a very pleasant surprise. This is a beautiful 3.5 mile loop trail if you’re not looking to hike Humphry’s Peak.
I have hiked Humphry’s Peak before my On The Rocks days and boy it’s a challenge!
Other “Water” Hikes
Watson Lake and Flume Trail – Prescott, AZ – Watson Lake Park
I highly recommend taking on this hike on a cool day, it gets very hot in the summer months. This loop trail is 4.5 miles long with 367 feet of elevation gain. While it’s an easier hike, it’s really important to watch your footing because it gets a bit rocky in some areas.
Horton Creek Trail – Payson, AZ – Tonto National Forest
Horton Creek Trail is my longest hike recommendation. This 8.6-mile hike is all along Horton Creek in Payson, Arizona. It has 2,437 feet of elevation gain and my legs hurt for a few days after this hike. This is an awesome option for anyone looking for a long hike this weekend.
If You’re Looking For A Challenge
Picacho Peak via Hunter Trail – Picacho, AZ
WOW! This is a hike that’ll knock your socks off. Picacho Peak belongs in the conversation along with Flat Iron Siphon Draw and Humphry’s Peak. This hike is difficult in all the best ways possible! It’s only 3 miles long but has nearly 2,000 feet of elevation gain and you’ll find yourself scaling cliffs and holding onto chains. It’s an absolute blast!