Going on a hike is a great way to get outdoors, refresh the mind and get in an amazing workout. LawnStarter ranked 2022’s best cities for hiking by comparing 200 of the biggest cities in the U.S. across 13 hiking factors such as hiking access and safety. Arizona ranked among the best cities for hiking with Tucson and Phoenix placing among the top five.
To determine each city’s ranking, LawnStarter considered many specifics, including the number of hiking routes and camping sites in each city, the average consumer rating for hiking trails, the difficulty of trails, the number of outdoor gear stores, annual weather patterns and statistics, crime indexes, and natural hazard threats.
Tucson ranked as the second-best city with an overall hiking score of 67.6 and Phoenix closely followed at No. 3 with an overall score of 67.25. Tucson scored high for hiking access, quality, supplies access, climate and safety. Meanwhile, Phoenix scored high marks in Climate and Safety.
The Southwest’s extreme climate poses challenges for hikers, however its desert terrain offers an abundance of hiking trails. Phoenix scored a particularly high Climate score of 184 so it is important that those who brave the Valley’s heat take plenty of water with them. Phoenix also provides hikers with more trail options than any other city. Phoenix ranked No. 1 for cities with the most hiking routes and Tucson ranked No. 2.
“Phoenix, Arizona, Maricopa County specifically, and Arizona in general are blessed with hundreds of miles of accessible public hiking and park-friendly walking trails for outdoor enthusiasts,” says Dale Larsen, Professor at Arizona State University. “Phoenix alone has over 40,000 acres of public parks, mountain parks, and trails — most within walking, biking, or a short driving distance of neighborhoods.
Arizona’s best hikes, according to LawnStarter, are South Mountain Park in Phoenix and Seven Falls in Tucson. Both are popular for their breathtaking views, natural landmarks and moderately easy trails.
South Mountain Park covers three mountain ranges: the Ma Ha Tauk, Gila and Guadalupe with numerous trails perfect for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. Dobbins Lookout sits at 2,330 feet as the highest point in the park. Its wide-open panoramic views of the Phoenix Valley make it an extremely popular hike among tourists and locals.
In Tucson, hike Bear Canyon Trail to reach Seven Falls, which is considered one of the most iconic spots in Tucson. After hiking past desert streams and cacti, you’ll find seven stunning waterfalls that form an oasis at the bottom of Sabino Canyon. Many people wade into the pool of fresh water before making the trek back.