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There are currently eleven national scenic trails in the United States - almost all of them are well over 100 miles long. One of the trails is the Arizona National Scenic Trail which completely traverses the whole north-south length of Arizona. It has been designated a National Scenic Trail since 2009.

A few hardcore hikers have hiked all the national scenic trails - it is a great way to really get to see the stunning diversity of the United States. All the national scenic trails have something different to offer. The Florida Trail explores the marshlands of Florida and is the only trail best hiked in the winter. The Natchez Trace follows a historic pre-Columbian trail through the South (and is the shortest of the trails).


The Arizona National Scenic Trail - The Best Way To See Arizona

The Arizona National Scenic Trail starts at the Coronado National Memorial by the Mexico border and runs all the way through Arizona to the Kaibab Plateau region by the Utah state line. The trail is a primitive trail designed for hiking, mountain biking, horse riding, and sometimes even cross-country skiing.

  • Usage: Hiking, Horseback Riding, Mountain Biking, Sometimes Cross Country Skiing

The trail runs through Saguaro National Park, the Catalina Mountains, Tonto National Forest, Mormon Lake, Flagstaff, and the Grand Canyon National Park. Along the trail, one will see a wide range of ecosystems in Arizona. Thru-hikers see deserts, canyons (including the Grand Canyon), wilderness, mountains, communities, and the history of the region.

  • Length: 800 miles or 1,300 km
  • National Parks: Saguaro National Park and Grand Canyon National Park
  • Landscapes: Deserts, Canyons, Mountains, and More

Related: 10 Trails In Glacier National Park For Experts Only

Why The Arizona Trail Is A Stunning Trail

People are free to hike most parts of the Arizona Trail - it is largely free from permits. One will need to get permits for the sections that run through the Saguaro and Grand Canyon National Parks.

The trail has something for everyone - some parts are remote and challenging, while others are accessible and great sections for families. The trail is subdivided into 43 passages that are between 8 and 33 miles long (so hikers can also complete it in sections).

  • Passages: Subdivided Into 43 Passages

It is administered by the U.S. Forest Service - as well as the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the Arizona Trail Association, Arizona State Parks, and others.

Related: Here’s Why Armenia Is Home To Europe’s Best Walking Trails

The Great Western Loop & Hiking The Arizona Trail

The Arizona Trail is a shortened part of the greater 6,875-mile (or 11,000 km) long Great Western Loop. The Great Western Loop is a mammoth trail that links five long-distance hiking trails. It links the Continental Divide Trail, the Arizona Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, the Pacific Northwest Trail, and the Grand Enchantment Trail.

  • Part of: The Great Western Loop

The Great Western Loop explores the true diversity of the Western United States and goes through 12 National Parks.

  • Open: Daily, Year-Round
  • Entrance: Free

The weather in Arizona can change significantly and hikers should be prepared for various adverse conditions. The summers can be scorching while the winters can be covered in snow. One can see a complete and detailed map of the Arizona Trail on the Arizona Trail Association website, as well as a cross-section of the altitude gain on the trail.

Some sections are much more difficult than others with some having significant elevation gain. Generally, the best times to hike the Arizona Trail are in the spring and autumn to avoid the heat of summer and the cold of winter.

The Arizona Trail has some time for everyone - from families through to legendary cross-country hikers.

Planning An Arizona Trail Thru-Hike

If one is planning on a thru-hike, then it is possible to hike the whole thing in a season. It normally takes 6-8 weeks to hike the Arizona Trail - although some may hike it much quicker or slower than that.

  • Time To Hike The Arizona Trail: Generally 6 to 8 Weeks

If planning a thru-hike, then refer to the Arizona Trail Association for up-to-date information, tips, waypoints, planning, and more.

Like other major trails, the Arizona Trail remains a work in progress. Although it is complete and well-signed, sections may change or be rerouted due to various circumstances.