Looking for some spots to spend a day hiking, mountain biking, or golfing in order to enjoy this beautiful weather while you’re in town for the NCAA Final Four?  I’ve put together the below list to make it easy for you.

(I previously wrote Part 1 of this post which focused more on places to eat, grab a drink, and visit.  If you haven’t already, you can view that post here.)

Gateway Loop McDowell Mountains

This time of year is so wonderful in Phoenix– the weather is perfect for being outside, and my husband and I play a game where we see just how long we can go before we need to turn our A/C on.  Our heat’s been off for probably at least a month and we are just loving having our doors/windows open when we’re home instead of paying for a/c!  With that said, it’s the best time to get up and get out to enjoy nature as well!  The hikes I’ve linked to below are hikes I’ve written about previously.  If you have questions about any of them, ask me!  I’ve done more than I’ve written about.  =)

HIKES IN PHOENIX:

  • Camelback is a popular (but incredibly packed) hike and you can hike either side
  • Squaw Peak/Piestewa Peak (same hike, depends on if you’re talking to a native on what they call it)
  • Peralta Trail
  • Tom’s Thumb
  • Flat Iron in the Superstitions
  • Picketpost
  • Telegraph Pass (South Mountain)

TRAILS TO HIKE OR BIKE (Phoenix):

  • Gateway Trail Loop in McDowell Mountains
  • Bell Pass in McDowell Mountains
  • Trail 100 in the Phoenix Preserves (access from Dreamy Draw)
  • Deem Hills (North Phoenix)
  • Mormon Trail (South Mountain)
  • National Trail (South Mountain; difficult, experienced riders)
  • Javelina (S. Mountain)
  • Desert Classic (S. Mountain; easy, beginner trail)

Bell Pass McDowell Mountains

HIKES OUTSIDE OF THE VALLEY (nice day trips):

  • Cathedral Rock (Sedona)
  • Devil’s Bridge (Sedona)
  • Mt. Wilson (Sedona)
  • Soldier’s Pass Trail (Sedona)
  • Hugh Norris Trail (near Tucson in Saguaro National Park)
  • Arizona Trail (you can literally pick a section and conquer it.  The Arizona Trail goes from Mexico to Utah!)
  • Watson Lake (Prescott)
  • Lynx Lake (Prescott)
  • Granite Lake (Prescott)

Cathedral Rock Trail in Sedona

Of the hikes I’ve listed, my top hikes in no particular order are:

  1. Squaw Peak (like a stairclimber)
  2. Picketpost Mountain (lots of scrambling at the top)
  3. Cathedral Rock (some scrambling at the top)

picketpost trail

Since this post is geared to those that are potentially in town visiting Arizona for the NCAA Final Four tournament but looking for other ways to explore AZ, I am leaving the Grand Canyon off of this list intentionally.  The Grand Canyon obviously offers lots of trails and beautiful scenery.

However, you should not plan to do a hike in the Grand Canyon if you have not prepared and planned for it.  Also, there are tons of photos of Havasupai Falls floating around on social media.  You MUST have a permit and they are hard to come by now.  Permits are usually gone for the year by the end of February.  It is also a backpacking trip, not an in-and-out day trip.

GOLF IN PHOENIX:

  • Kokopelli
  • Troon North
  • We-Ko-Pa
  • The Boulders
  • Grayhawk
  • Gold Canyon
  • TPC Scottsdale
  • Talking Stick (real golf, or you can go to TopGolf if you prefer!)
  • Arizona Grand
  • Wigwam
  • Raven
  • Stonecreek
  • Arizona Biltmore
  • Glen Lakes
  • Sedona Golf Resort

For a listing of more golf courses with listing of starting rates, visit golfarizona.com

For more hiking and biking trails, you can also visit the Hiking Project and Mountain Biking Project by REI.  As always, make sure you are drinking enough water and using hats/sunscreen, etc… The sun sneaks up on you in AZ, even if it’s overcast, and you can get dehydrated very quickly.  I personally love my Hydroflask because those things had to have been invented for desert dwellers.  The water stays chilled for days!

I hope this list gives you some great ideas on exploring Arizona while you’re visiting our beautiful state!  As always, if you need ideas or have any questions on trails let me know!  Otherwise, enjoy Phoenix and enjoy the NCAA Final Four tournament!

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