Solo hiking trips near Phoenix
May 26, 2016 4:27 PM   Subscribe

I enjoy hiking and just found out that I have a long weekend this week! Any recommendations for day hikes near north Phoenix?

I'm looking for a quiet day (or two) where I can hike, eat my sandwich in the shade, and then maybe admire and sketch some landscapes. I'm willing to drive up to 4 hours, but if I can get a good hike or two in, with some nice vistas to sketch, some quiet time to think, without doing so, that'd be great, too! I am reasonably fit and don't mind gain in elevation but would prefer somewhat more shaded hiking trails. I also don't want to be entirely alone on the trail, either, since I'll be traveling solo.

I've been to both rims of the Grand Canyon (though this was a while ago), Sedona, Marble Canyon, as well as Utah. I haven't been to Lake Havasu or explored Tonto National Forest. I also like geology, astronomy, art, and history, so if you can think of any ways to incorporate this into my outing, let me know.

If you're recommending a two-day trip: I don't have camping supplies with me but have a REI gift card I'd could use. I'm also open to finding cheap last-minute accommodations for one, but I'm not familiar with the area. Thank you!
posted by gemutlichkeit to Travel & Transportation around Arizona (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

The drive is kind of neat and there's a scene there. You should be able to get a motel there. There are also campsites. Given its s holiday weekend do check before you go.

The terrain is high desert and quite different from Phoenix.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:03 PM on May 26, 2016

In Payson - Tonto Natural Bridge
Superstition Mountains - lots of hikes to choose from
I love the Boyce Thompson Aboretum - there are a bunch of offshoot trails from the main trail.
Pass Mountain Trail - in Mesa - Usery Park
posted by Sassyfras at 5:04 PM on May 26, 2016

If you're open to driving a couple of hours, Montezuma's Well is amazing, and there are a lot of good hikes in Oak Creek Canyon, north of Sedona (and around Sedona in general).
posted by Alterscape at 5:11 PM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

I haven't hiked in these areas but I enjoy visiting Jerome and Prescott, north of the Phoenix area.

The big telescopes are in southern Arizona - Kitt Peak and Mount Graham. In Bisbee, you can tour the old Queen Mine. Tucson has a mineral museum on the U of A campus, and the Desert Museum west of Tucson is amazing for all kinds of information about the geology, plants, and animals of the Sonoran desert.

Make sure to take and drink plenty of water! It will be getting hotter this weekend.
posted by Squeak Attack at 7:08 PM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

There are so many great hiking trails in the Prescott and Camp Verde areas – all within 2 hours of the valley. Thumb Butte and Granite Dells are both in the Prescott area. There’s the View Point Trail on Mingus Mountain (between Prescott & Jerome) which will give you awesome vistas to sketch. Near Camp Verde, there’s the Bell Trail, which follows Wet Beaver Creek - plan to go swimming! There will probably be lots of folks headed north this weekend, so traveling solo shouldn't be a problem. Have fun!
posted by kbar1 at 10:41 PM on May 26, 2016

If you want to venture a little further north, go to Flagstaff (2.5 hours from Phx), where there are many well marked trails. My daughter, a student at NAU, recommends the Mars Hill trail, which has lovely views of the San Francisco Peaks and leads near Lowell Observatory.
posted by kbar1 at 6:02 AM on May 27, 2016

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers! I used them as a jumping-off point to do more research re: picking a trail to hike. Here are the sites I found useful:'s trail index lets you filter hikes by the preferred forest region, recommended season, distance, elevation gain, difficulty, and a bunch of other factors (whether there's a creek, or even historic sites).
The AllTrails app gave me supplemental information about the hikes I was considering and was also useful for actually mapping my hike (I guess MapMyHike does this too, but I haven't tried that one).

I ended up doing the Wilson Mountain #10 trail, which provided exactly what I was looking for -- the distance/time I was looking for (nearly all-day hike), with the solitude I was seeking (I saw only one other hiker my entire way), great views for nearly the entire way up with good variation in scenery and vegetation, overall moderate difficulty. Parts of it were shaded, which I appreciated, because yeah, it got hot this weekend! I visited nearby Montezuma Castle (unfortunately didn't make it to the well, but the pictures look amazing!) after my hike, which rounded out my preference for learning about history in my original post.

Apparently this trail is listed in the book 100 Classic Hikes in Arizona-- I'm going to check this book out soon!
posted by gemutlichkeit at 9:01 AM on May 30, 2016

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