Top Three Winter Hiking Destinations

January 18, 2022

PHOENIX - Get out and enjoy the physical and mental benefits of hiking in an Arizona state park this winter! There are more than 175 miles of trail to choose from in the parks - perfect to get the new year started on the right foot.

Hiking is a great cardio workout, plus it can help the body by building muscles, improving your sense of balance, and decreasing the risk of certain cardio and respiratory diseases. From a mental perspective, research has shown that being outside can help decrease stress and support 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 by hitting the trails in the mild temps and beautiful scenery that Arizona’s winter provides. Here are three top parks that offer great hikes for this time of year and suit every level, from beginner to experienced.

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

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

    Not only does this famous location offer great hiking, but many of the trails are multi-use, for outdoor enthusiasts who would like to try their hand at a new recreational activity like mountain biking or horseback riding.
  2. Oracle State Park
    This 4,000-acre wildlife refuge offers more than 15 miles of hiking trails and is a Center for Environmental Education, with diverse and abundant wildlife and plant life in the park.

    In addition to many loop trails, ranging from under one mile up to 6 miles, trails at this park include a four-mile section of the Arizona Trail that passes through the park. Almost every trail at Oracle State Park is dog friendly, an added bonus for many outdoor enthusiasts.
  3. Patagonia Lake State Park/Sonoita Creek State Natural Area
    A famous destination for nature lovers is Patagonia Lake State Park and the connecting Sonoita Creek State Natural Area. These are designated as an Important Bird Area by the Audubon Society and are a hot spot for those looking to spot amazing birds while hiking.

    More than 20 miles of trails are waiting to be explored in this scenic area! Check out the Overlook Trail (1.5 miles), which is close to Patagonia Lake State Park and a great way to see spectacular 360-degree views from a higher viewpoint. Or take the Sonoita Creek Trail (1.5 miles) that borders the stream to find solitude among the cottonwood, mesquite, willow, and sycamore trees and observe the wildlife that call the habitat home.

Don’t forget safety measures that are just as important in the winter as they are in the summer! Bring plenty of water, and turn around when half your water is gone. You’ll need to hydrate on the return trip too! Dress for the weather in layers you can shed or add to regulate your body temperature. Continue sun protection regardless of how hot or cool you may feel (wear sunblock and protective clothing/a hat), and know the trail, tell someone your plans, bring a hiking buddy and an emergency/first aid kit! See details about these hiking safety tips and more at ?

Find all the details about hiking in these parks and more across the state at