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7 Arizona hikes worth the trek

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Posted at 9:53 AM, Feb 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-25 11:53:22-05

With so many great hiking trails in Arizona, the challenge is deciding what to see and where to go. Here’s a list of AAA Arizona’s seven trails worth the trek:

Aravaipa Canyon Preserve
In southeast Arizona, between Safford and Winkelman, this wilderness area offers an 11-mile pristine hike through a rare perennial stream. This hike is difficult, with an elevation gain of 430 feet. But persistent hikers are rewarded with towering limestone walls, whistling cottonwoods, and bighorn sheep, and there are no crowds to impede the view. Only a limited number of daily hiking/camping permits are available.

Hike rating: Difficult

Boynton Canyon Trail #47

The trailhead outside the entrance to Enchantment Resort leads to one of Sedona’s vortex sites, Boynton Canyon. This 5-mile, round-trip hike presents colorful canyon views, a varied landscape of Gambel oak, manzanita, and Arizona alder, and ancient cliff ruins overhead.

Hike rating: Easy

Hugh Norris Trail

Popular for viewing sunsets, wildflowers and wildlife across the dense cactus forest, at nearly 4.9 miles long (one way), this trail is the longest in the Tucson Mountain District. It climbs steadily up to Wasson Peak for 360-degree views of the city, including a gander at the tallest peak in town, Mount Lemmon, to the east.

Hike rating: Moderate

Lower Cathedral Wash

At the base of the Vermilion Cliffs in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, just a few miles east of Lees Ferry, this hidden slot canyon hike thrills with scrambles over limestone boulders, and ducks or crawls along narrow sandstone ledges and alcoves. At the end of the 1.25-mile descent, hikers reach a sandy beach on the banks of the Colorado River.

Hike rating: Moderate to Difficult

Summit Trail #300

Phoenicians loves their urban trails, and Piestewa Peak is a long-standing favorite. A tough, rocky climb to the summit at 2,608 feet, the 1.2-mile-long (2.4 round trip) hike is a heart-thumping trek up and around switchbacks, with benches at several points along the way. The reward at the very top is a 360-degree view of the valley below.

Hike rating: Moderate to Difficult

Hamburg Trail

The trailhead begins just outside the visitor center at Ramsey Canyon Preserve in the Huachuca Mountains. This lush, green, 5.6 mile round-trip trek passes Ramsey Creek (a tributary of the San Pedro River), climbs uphill, follows several switchbacks, and leads to a scenic overlook in the Coronado National Forest. From there, hikers can enjoy the view and then head back, or continue on for additional trails. Along the Hamburg Trail, hikers will see hummingbirds, remnants of an old mining camp, and waterfalls after a rain.

Hike rating: Moderate to difficult

West Fork Trail #94

The higher-elevation trail in Greer, popular with the summer crowds, takes hikers along a 5-mile path toward West Baldy Trail in the Mount Baldy Wilderness. Notice the scent of ponderosa pine, the touch of fresh cool air, and the sound of woodpeckers tapping away at the white bark on aspen trees. Along the way, see monkey flowers, a pong or two, and deer or elk crossing grassy meadows.

Hike rating: Easy to Moderate

AAA is a full-service travel agency. For more travel tips or information, visit http://highroads.az.aaa.com.