The trails to the top of Picacho Peak State Park are far and away the most challenging within our system. Two trails join to take you to the top of the 1500 foot peak. Hunter Trail (2 miles to the peak) and Sunset Vista Trail (3.1 miles to the peak) both take you through saguaros, chollas and ocotillos that dot the desert landscape.
Dead Horse Ranch State Park offers many different levels of hiking trails for the beginner to the enthusiast. Smooth paths along the Verde River are prime for those looking for a leisurely hike. Other trails rise from the flat track and circle the pond and ridges. In addition, seven miles of developed trails and frequent elevation changes in the Dead Horse Trail System provide opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian use along the Lime Kiln Trail (2.1 miles), the Thumper Trail (2.25 miles) and the Raptor Hill Trail (2.85 miles). Start early and bring water!
Lost Dutchman State Park at the base of the Superstition Mountains, provide the gateway to a system of trails into the Superstition Wilderness. Any Ranger on duty can give you information on the views each trail provides and there is a great map in the Ranger Station. Look east at dusk to watch shadows backlight the "Thunder Gods" at the top of the ridge. Westward, the sun goes down over the Phoenix horizon. These breathtaking colors give way to city lights throughout the valley.
Catalina State Park on the north side of the Santa Catalina's bordering Tucson is within the Coronado National Forest. Trails wind through Indian ruins, perennial pools and a real variety of vegetation. Bleached white, giant boulders crowd saguaros, creosote and mesquite but the higher you climb the greater the pine. The trails go to Mount Lemmon, Sabino and West Fork to provide a gallery of masterpieces.
Red Rock State Park is in the heart of red rock country just southwest of Sedona. If you've never been there, go! Your camera won't do it justice but binoculars will help you identify the hundreds of birds. Lower Oak Creek runs through the park and the trails climb up, over, around and through ridges of red rock for a total of over 6 miles.
Tonto Natural Bridge State Park is at the edge of the Mogollon Rim where the red bark of the manzanita gives way to the vanilla scent of the pines. The trails in the park can be challenging but the views they provide are unmatched. Three trails meet along Pine Creek under the natural rock bridge.
Lyman Lake State Park provides a unique opportunity to walk back in time. The Petroglyph Trail winds past small boulders practically covered with well preserved rock art. Special tours can be arranged to access the site and Rangers are happy to share information on past cultures that called the region home.
Kartchner Caverns State Park in southern Arizona, provides hiking opportunities of variable difficulty and length. Explore the Whetstone Mountains' various geological formations and vegetation.
Slide Rock State Park has three short trails that provide a selection of views. One trail finds the beginning of Secret Mountain Wilderness. A second travels along the cliff overlooking the Slide Rock swim area. The last runs through the length of the park.
Lake Havasu State Park on Arizona's "west coast," offers a paved walk along the shoreline and through a newly developed cactus garden. The park is in Lake Havasu City.
Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park offers long and short walks through a spectacular property established as a living plant museum.
History joins nature on the Anza Trail at Tubac Presidio State Historic Park near Nogales. This trail follows and crosses (take your sandals) the Santa Cruz River, and passes along green pastures winding its way to Tumacácori National Historic Park.
Roper Lake State Park is overshadowed by Mount Graham but the trails run along the shoreline offering a variety of views. A separate, unique trail at the nearby Dankworth Ponds Unit passes through a reconstructed Indian Village exhibiting housing styles used over several centuries.
Besides the scenery, Lost Dutchman State Park also offers a short, level, paved trail that winds through a well done interpretive area. Visitors can learn plant names and view wildlife.