This 800-mile Scenic Trail in Arizona Takes Hikers Through 6 National Parks and Forests
Looking to get your steps in? Arizona is hiding the perfect trail for you.
Arizona is home to arguably one of the most beautiful National Scenic Trails in the United States. Stretching from the U.S.-Mexico border all the way to Utah, its 800-mile trail — aptly named The Arizona Trail — crosses through varied terrain, communities, and cultural sites that will delight every kind of traveler.
According to The Arizona Trail Association, the trail began as the dream of Dale Shewalter, a Flagstaff school teacher who envisioned a trail that would one day cross the entirety of the state. In both the 1970s and again in 1985, Shearwater walked from the city of Nogales to the Utah state line to see if his idea was even possible. Once he realized it was, he began to advocate for a trail system that would show off Arizona's immense beauty. Decades of hard work later, which included land inventory, building and maintaining the trail, GPS coordination, and more, the 800-mile path gained its official National Scenic Trail designation in 2009. And every year since, thousands of hikers, bikers, runners, and equestrians have taken to all or parts of the trail in an effort to discover something new.
Along the route, hikers, bikers, and horseback riders have the opportunity to stop in and visit a few of the trail's fantastic gateway communities as well. The long list of destinations includes greats like Tucson, Flagstaff, both the South and North Rim of the Grand Canyon, and Page. But truly, you shouldn't overlook all the smaller towns in between, which each offer something special to those passing through.
For hikers and bikers who aren't quite ready to do all 800 miles at once, there is the option to visit one of its 43 passages, which range in length from 8.6-mile sections to massive 35.5-mile-long paths. The Arizona Trail Association offers a handy guide for those looking to take shorter day hikes, too.
Here's one more piece of good news: once you've finished with this gorgeous scenic trail, you can keep going and hike through America's 10 other scenic trails, which all go on for 100 miles or more across some of the country's most pristine landscapes. Trust us, your FitBit will be proud.