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Get The New Year Started With First Day Hikes

December 31st, 2013 12:48:00 pm

Are you ready to get 2014 off to a healthy start? Hiking is a great activity for people of all ages and even dogs, too.


On Jan. 1, residents of Arizona all around the Valley are in for a treat! Many local trails are hosting First Day Hikes, guided by park rangers and volunteers to help people get familiar with hiking and ease into it at their own pace. 


First Day Hikes at State Parks


The Sonoran Desert is beautiful, but can be intimidating to visitors who aren't aquainted with Arizona's climate. It's smart to start hiking in cooler months, when there's less risk for heat issues.


You'll want to wear layers, as the sun will warm you up in the afternoon. Make sure to wear shoes with good tread or hiking boots and bring suncreen, a hat or sunglasses. It's recommended to have 1 liter of water per person or pet and bring a few snacks. 


For a complete list of hikes, go to jan1hike. Check the website on the day of the hike to be sure there are no weather-related schedule changes.


First Day Hikes


Alamo Lake State Park

9 a.m. at old ranger station. Hike is approximately one mile. Hike is moderate to difficult. Hikers should bring water, comfortable hiking shoes or boots, hat, sunblock, bug spray, attire appropriate for the weather and an optional snack. A walking stick is suggested and a camera and/or binoculars are welcome.

Dead Horse Ranch State Park

The Verde River runs through this central Arizona park, making wildlife spotting a possibility. Bring binoculars or a camera. The hike will last 90 minutes to two hours and cover 2-3 miles. There is trout fishing in the park’s lagoons. Several other state parks and national monuments are nearby in the Verde Valley. Meet at 10 a.m. at the West Lagoon parking lot.
Details: 675 Dead Horse Ranch Road, Cottonwood. $7 per vehicle of four. 928-634-5283,
First Day Hikes in Arizona

Lost Dutchman State Park

Learn about desert flora and fauna and the history of the Superstition Mountains and Lost Dutchman mine on this easy, 21/2-mile hike. Hikers who want more of a challenge can break away with volunteer hiking leaders and continue on a moderate, 3-mile loop that will take two to three hours. The hike will be canceled in the event of rain. Meet at 9 a.m. at the Siphon Draw Trailhead.
Details: 6109 N. Apache Trail, Apache Junction. $7 per vehicle of four. 480-982-4485,

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park

Lots of options here. At 8:30 a.m., avian enthusiast Mark Ochs will lead a bird walk and tour of the Main Trail. At 10:30 a.m., Sandra Schenone will lead a dog-socialization walk. There’s another tour of the Main Trail at 11 a.m. At 2:30 p.m., Cass Blodgett, co-president of the Arizona Native Plants Society Phoenix chapter, will lead a walk focusing on desert plants. Need a rest? At noon, Arvel Bird will perform high-energy fiddle, Native American flute and Celtic-jazz-influenced music.
Details: 55 miles east of central Phoenix on U.S. 60. $10, $5 for ages 5-12. 520-689-2811,

Patagonia Lake State Park

9 a.m. at Visitor Center. Join our volunteers & staff for one of two hikes: The Overlook Hike is a 1.5 mile round trip this is a moderate hike with an elevation gain of 335 feet. At the top of the trail is an amazing vista of Patagonia Lake State Park and the surrounding mountain ranges. The Petroglyph Site Hike is approximately 3 miles round trip, and is of moderate difficulty. This site is located on the north side of Patagonia Lake, expect some rock scrambling at the petroglyph hil. Wear sturdy shoes; bring water, and perhaps a walking stick. Call to register at 520.287.2791.

Buckskin Mountain State Park

10 a.m. at Buckskin Mountain Contact Station.

Catalina State Park

Three hikes to choose from! 8 a.m.: Best Short Trails Loop, 6-7 miles, 300’ elevation gain, meet at main Trailhead parking lot. 8 a.m.: Bird Walk at Main Trailhead, whether you are a novice or a season birder come and enjoy the birds that visit and live in the Catalina’s. 10 a.m.: Romero Ruins Adventure Walk: Learn the history behind the Ruins in a 1-mile family friendly hike!
Catalina State Park

Cattail Cove State Park

9 am. Moderately difficulty hike on Whyte's Retreat Trail at Cattail Cove State Park. There are stairs and a length of the trail has a sandy substrate. The hike will be 1.5 to 2 miles long. Park rangers will lead the hike and discuss natural history of the area, as well as the pumping station on Lake Havasu (visible from the trail) and talk about Parker Dam as well.

Kartchner Caverns State Park

9 a.m. at the Discovery Center. Hike is 2.5 miles in length. Visitors will hike the Mountain Overlook Trail and view the San Pedro Valley's natural wonders.

Lake Havasu State Park

10 a.m. at the trailhead in lot #2. The hike will have a scenic view of the lake and take you through the Cactus Garden.

Picacho Peak State Park 

Meet at 10 a.m. at the Sunset Vista Trailhead for a moderate 4-mile round-trip hike. To allow hikers of most abilities and families with young children to participate, this hike will not climb any cables and will not go to the top of the peak.
Details: About 65 miles south of Phoenix on Interstate 10 at Exit 219. $7 per vehicle of four. 520-466-3183,

Red Rock State Park 

There will be three hikes at this scenic park, each focusing on a different topic. Try the 9 a.m. bird hike, 10 a.m. nature hike or 2 p.m. geology hike.
Details: 4050 Red Rock Loop Road, Sedona. $5, $3 for ages 7-13. 928-282-6907,
Red Rock State Park

Roper Lake State Park

10 a.m. Moderate 1.5 mile hike. Participants should meet at the hot tub parking lot. Hike around Roper Lake and along the Mariah Mesa Trail. Rangers will discuss the history of the park, wildlife, plants and everything Roper Lake has to offer. Pets are welcome on this hike. Participants should bring water, snacks, cameras and binoculars.

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park

Two hikes: 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Hikes will begin with a short talk on the history of the park. Participants will then join the trail guides and hike down the Gowan Trail to the observation deck under the natural bridge. The hike will last about and hour and a half with trail distance of approximately a half mile. The trail is steep and requires several steps and may be difficult for persons with physical limitations. Please no pets or strollers on the hikes. Once off the trail hikers will gather at the historic guest lodge in the park for a guided tour. Hikes are subject to change or cancellation due to inclement weather. These hikes are limited to a maximum 30 people per hike and requires pre-registration.
Details: To register for a First Day Hike at this park please e-mail park ranger Gavin at or call the park at (928) 476-2261.'
For more hiking tips, click here to read our blog on Hiking in Arizona.

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