The Five Best Winter Hiking Destinations

Presented by Beltone – A leader in audience health care.

Get outside and enjoy the physical and mental benefits of hiking in an Arizona state park this winter! There are over 175 miles of trails to choose from in the parks – perfect for starting the new year off right.

Hiking is a great cardio workout, plus it can help the body by strengthening muscles, improving your sense of balance, and lowering the risk of certain cardio and respiratory diseases. From a mental perspective, research has shown that being outdoors can help reduce stress and promote healthy relationships when people share time in nature with others.

With the New Year officially underway, mental and physical health can be prioritized in 2022 as you hit the trails in the mild temperatures and beautiful scenery that the Arizona winter offers. Here are three of the best parks that offer great hiking for this time of year and are suitable for all levels, from beginner to experienced.

Catalina State Park

Surrounded by the towering Santa Catalina Mountains, this state park offers foothills, canyons, and seasonal streams, all located within minutes of the Tucson area.

Bring a sense of adventure for the Romero Ruins Interpretive Trail (0.75 miles), Canyon Loop Trail (2.3 miles), or Sutherland Trail (9.1 miles with an elevation gain of 5,900 feet) .

Not only does this famous spot offer great hiking, but many of the trails are multi-purpose, for outdoor enthusiasts who would like to try their hand at a new recreational activity like mountain biking or horseback riding.

Oracle State Park

This 4,000 acre wildlife refuge offers over 15 miles of hiking trails and is a center for environmental education, with diverse and abundant flora and fauna in the park.

In addition to numerous loop trails, ranging from less than a mile to 6 miles, trails in this park include a four-mile section of the Arizona Trail that runs through the park. Almost all trails in Oracle State Park are dog-friendly, an added bonus for many outdoor enthusiasts.

Patagonia Lake State Park / Sonoita Creek State Natural Area

A famous destination for nature lovers is Patagonia Lake State Park and Sonoita Creek State Natural Area. These are designated as an Important Bird Area by the Audubon Society and are a hotspot for those looking to spot amazing birds while hiking.

Over 20 miles of trails await to be explored in this scenic area! Check out the Overlook Trail (2.4 km), which is near Patagonia Lake State Park and is a great way to see spectacular 360-degree views from a higher vantage point. Or take the Sonoita Creek Trail (1.5 miles) which hugs the creek to find solitude among cottonwoods, mesquite, willows and sycamores and view the wildlife that call the habitat home.

Picacho Peak State Park

Picacho Peak State Park trails beckon hikers to explore this southern Arizona hiking paradise! The Sonoran Desert is a great place to enjoy trails with the best views, interesting birds and animals, and diverse plant life that simply cannot be experienced outside of the desert ecosystem.

The hiking trails in the park are rated from easy to difficult with a few in between. Chances are you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for here amid cacti, rocky ridges and unforgettable views!

Red Rock State Park

Red Rock State Park offers perhaps the best hiking experience in Sedona! Many trails cross the conservation park through desert and riparian type landscapes.

Animal sightings here are common, the diversity of bird species is admirable, and the overall “vibe” is inspired by Sedona’s world famous red rock cliffs. Trails are available for people of all abilities in this absolutely stunning destination.

Don’t forget the safety measures that are just as important in winter as in summer! Bring plenty of water and turn back when half your water runs out. It will also be necessary to hydrate on the return! Dress for the weather in layers that you can remove or add to regulate your body temperature. Continue to protect yourself from the sun no matter how hot or cold you feel (wear sunscreen and protective clothing/hat), and know the trail, tell someone your plans, bring a buddy hike and an emergency/first aid kit! See the details on these hiking safety tips and more at azstateparks.com/hiking-safety.

Find all the details on hiking in these parks and more across the state at azstateparks.com/hiking-trails.

Find out what else is happening in the Quad Cities with more stories from the Recreation section on Signals A Z.com!


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