What do you think of when you hear the words “Black Friday”? Shopping? Craziness? Traffic? Those are just some of the words that used to come to our mind. But we no longer shudder when we think of Black Friday. Instead, we take a look at what hiking trail we are going to explore. The greatest movement ever, thought up by REI, has millions of people deciding to #optoutside and enjoy the great outdoors with their family, pets & friends rather than wait in long lines & deal with the mad house that IS typically Black Friday. Here in Arizona there are many different trails, with many different terrains to enjoy. We would like to share FIVE of them with you that we have personally hiked and thoroughly enjoyed. So, will you go out with us? We hope that after reading this post, your answer to our question will undoubtedly be, “YES!”
- Hieroglyphic Trail (Superstition Wildnerness) – This short, three mile trail is located on the outskirts of Gold Canyon. It is considered an “out and back” trail meaning you go back the same way you came in. It is considered an “easy” hike but I would just be careful if you have bad knees, as there are a couple spots where you have to scramble over some boulders. You can almost guarantee that if it has been raining, there will be some little waterfalls at the end of the trail. Dogs are allowed, as you can see Hope above, but they should remain on leash. This is a highly traveled trail, so if you were wanting peace and quiet, this hike might not be for you.
2. Peralta Trail to Fremont Saddle – This is another amazing trail, located just outside Gold Canyon. It has a total distance of 4.9 miles and an elevation gain of roughly 1,380 feet. We did this hike last fall & it was beautiful. The drive to the trail head is on a dirt road that can be navigated by just about any vehicle, unless you have some loose motor mounts. The road can be a little bumpy in places! I would rate this hike as moderate, as there are a lot of steep switchbacks that take you up to the saddle. The switchbacks are easy to navigate, but they can take your breath away. Once at the top, there is a cave off to your right & Weavers Needle will basically be a little to the left, & straight on. Enjoy the vegetation at the beginning of this hike because the higher you go, the less shade you have. Be sure to bring lots of water, the view at the end is worth it the sweat & achey body! Dogs are allowed on this trail but, again, they must be on leash. You can go back the way you came.
3. Butcher Jones Trail – We got the chance to experience this trail just this week. It is located just past the Saguaro Lake turn off, on the Bush Highway, outside of Mesa. The turn off is clearly marked & after making a right hand turn you follow the road down to a large parking lot. The trail head is at the south east end of the parking lot & again, clearly marked. There are a lot of up’s & downs with this hike and not a lot of shade once you get to the top of the hills. However, there are little beaches along the way that do provide some shade & a place for you to jump in the lake & cool off. We found a nice little beach, at about the half way point, with some trees we could hang our hammocks in & just relax. The whole trail, out & back, is about 9 miles & I would recommend starting this trail early in the morning. Bringing a lunch isn’t a bad idea either and of course, plenty of water. There are a variety of birds that oversee this trail, including the Bald Eagle! This trail should be considered “moderate” in my opinion. However, I have seen some older folks out there, conquering this hike better than some of the young people! You will need a Tonto Pass for this hike. They are $8 & can be found at gas stations on the way out to the lake. The last gas station is at the intersection of Ellsworth & Brown roads if you are coming from the East Valley.
4. Horton Creek Trail – This beautiful, 7 mile, out & back hike is located just outside Payson (about a 90 minute drive north from Apache Junction) off Forest Road 289. Let me start off by saying, we brought our 2 year old on this hike & she walked almost the whole time & was able to keep up once past the initial, slight slope down, then back up, on your way in. People like to camp in and around this area so it is usually pretty highly traveled. I just cannot explain the beauty that comes with his trail. Pine trees, tall grass, red rocks, the creek itself & downed logs are just some of the things you will get to see & experience. Dogs are allowed, but must be on leash, & I have no doubt your pups will LOVE this trail. The sound of the running creek is so peaceful & you will see an occasional fisherman trying his luck at catching a big one!
5. Lower Fish Creek Canyon – If you’re looking for an adventure that is “way out there”, this one is for you. If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, you’ve found it. You start out by following Apache Trail (Hwy 88) all the way past Canyon Lake, through Tortilla Flat, & eventually down a steep, dirt, washboard, one-way road that weaves around the mountain until you make it to the bottom. TAKE IT SLOW on your way down.You will come to a bridge at the bottom, cross it. Just on the other side of the bridge there is a small pull out that can fit about 5 small to mid-sized vehicles that you can park at. You will cross back over the bridge on foot & find the trail in between some pretty decent sized boulders. The trail will first lead you up to a decent sized cave, then lead you down into the creek. When we got down into the creek bed, we made a right turn. There was no running water, but there were several pools throughout the hike that were deep enough for our dogs to swim in. You will find a lot of rock scrambling, hoisting, & fitting through tight spaces on this hike. My friend, Kerri & I brought our daughters who are 7 & 8 years old & they had a blast. There really is no distinct trail in some areas so you kind of just make your own…which is what makes this trail so much fun. You will know when you get to the end because you simply cannot go any further thanks to giant boulders & a pool of water. You return the way you came. If you are wanting a hike that is peaceful, with hardly any human interaction once you’re in the creek, come check out Fish Creek Canyon. I would rate this hike moderate to difficult in some areas & definitely not for those with a fear of heights. I, myself, have a fear of heights & had to navigate the steep road in & back out by myself. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into but after the shakiness & nerves wore off, I knew that this area was definitely worth it.
So there you have it! Five of our favorite hikes in Arizona & why we love them. Some are close by, others are far away, all are as equally as enjoyable as the other. Keep in mind, Arizona has SO many more trails to explore & we have only scratched the surface. So what trail will you choose to explore this Black Friday? You can find hundreds of trails on All Trails website by clicking HERE
With all of that said, if you do indeed decide to go out with us & avoid all the hustle & bustle of Black Friday shopping, please share your photos on social media with the hashtags; #optoutside & #makeadogsday. For every photo shared with these hashtags, Subaru USA will donate $1 to the ASPCA to help animals in need (up to $50,000). How cool is that? Make sure to check out Camping With Dogs & Ruffwear as well, they are some of our favorites that are partnering with REI in this movement!
You can find Camping With Dogs website & links to all their social media sites HERE
To learn more about Ruffwear & find links to all their social media sites click HERE
To join the movement & declare you are going to OptOutside, visit REI by clicking HERE
Happy Trails Friends! We can’t wait to hear about all of your adventures!