Exploring Arizona: 5 Favorite Fall Hikes

Photo: Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau

When it comes to hikes, Arizona is the place to be. Use this fall hiking guide to gear up for this year’s hiking season in Arizona.

This story is from our special edition IN AZ 2024 issue. Read the full issue online here for more inside intel on where to stay, dine and everything in between IN AZ this season and all year round.

Red Rock Crossing, Sedona 

Photo: Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau

This easy-going 1.8-mile hike leads to the banks of Oak Creek. One of the most photographed areas in Sedona, Red Rock Crossing is famous for its fiery red rocks and spiritual vortexes. The trail is mostly shaded by trees and is fairly flat. The relaxed path through the forest is the perfect trail for kids and those who don’t want anything too strenuous. The trail is walkable but can also be used for biking. Bring a picnic basket and your swimsuit or water shoes to take a dip in the swimming holes. Enjoy snacking in the shade, playing in the water and catching crawdads. The leaves change during the fall, so you’re sure to get some beautiful photos. Sedona is famous for its vortexes, supposed geological and spiritual phenomenon of swirling energy. Because of this, Red Rock Crossing is also a popular spot for meditation and yoga. www.visitsedona.com

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park, Phoenix

Photo: Arizona State Park and Trails

Tonto National Park’s Natural Bridge is the world’s largest natural travertine bridge. Water drips down from the bridge, pooling at the bottom and creating waterfalls. Located just two hours northeast of Phoenix, this rewarding hike makes for the perfect day trip. In the fall, the weather is nice enough to not work up too much of a sweat on the way down to the bridge base. There are four trails around the bridge, but the Gowan Trail is the longest and most scenic. On the way down to the base of the bridge, you will see the creek, get to hike under the bridge and stand on a viewing deck in front of the waterfall. Gowan Trail is only 1.4 miles but can be steep and slippery. Other trails have less incline but still offer views of the bridge. Be sure to bring water shoes to climb the slippery terrain at the bottom of the bridge. There are picnic tables and restrooms at the top of the bridge, so pack a lunch to enjoy after the hike. The entry area to the bridge also has a small shop with gifts and refreshments, plus a large rental property perfect for events. Entry is $7 for adults, $4 for kids ages 7–13 and free for those under age 7. www.azstateparks.com 

Horseshoe Bend Trail, Page

Photo: National Park Service

This trail only takes around 30 minutes to complete and has a beautiful view of the Colorado River wrapped around Horseshoe Bend. This fantastic view of the river is in Page, Ariz., near the Utah border, about four hours from Phoenix. While the Horseshoe Bend Trail isn’t long or difficult, the view makes this trail very exciting. Leashed dogs are welcome, and this trail is great for everyone as it’s only 1.5 miles and is also accessible by wheelchair. This view of Horseshoe Bend is very popular with tourists for good reason. The hike is free, but you must pay for parking before starting the short hike. For frequent hikers and sightseers, this area has lots to explore. While in Page, be sure to take a tour into Antelope Canyon and visit the Glen Canyon Dam, which stores water from the Colorado River. Lake Powell is also located in Page and is another spot for great views and photos. www.nps.gov

Seven Falls, Tucson 

Seven Falls is a popular hike in Tucson with many different trails to explore. The hike begins at Sabino Canyon Recreation Area at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains. The longest trail is 8.2 miles long but can be made shorter by taking an $8 tram up to the trailhead, which reduces the hike down to 4.6 miles. The trail is considered moderately easy with a subtle incline but very little shade. This hike offers many different stops to view water crossings and falls. The trail has plenty of Sonoran wildlife and plants like saguaros, chollas and ocotillo. At the end of the path is a desert oasis of ponds and waterfalls. Seven Falls is most beautiful after monsoon season when the waterfalls are full. Be sure to bring plenty of water on this long hike because there isn’t much shade. Day passes into Sabino Canyon are $8 per vehicle. www.arizonahikersguide.com

Sunrise Peak, Scottsdale 


This 3.8-mile out-and-back trail near Fountain Hills is beautiful in the fall. Sunrise Peak is a lesser summit of the McDowell Mountains in Scottsdale. Dogs are welcome but must be leashed. This is a moderately challenging hike with rocky terrain that can be completed in around two hours. The trail has little shade and can be slippery or steep at times. The McDowell Mountains are full of beautiful wildlife and foliage to see while hiking. The trail is popular with runners and early-morning hikers catching the sunrise. Other trails within the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy can be biked on, but the Sunrise Trail is only trail for hiking and running. www.mcdowellsonoran.org

*Information listed is subject to change. Please check the respective websites for the most up-to-date information and availability.

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