Mountains may not be the first thing that people associate with Arizona. But there are some really special mountains in Arizona that are fantastic for hiking and camping. Arizona isn’t just a desert. There are snow-capped peaks and mountains that dot the Arizona landscape. There is even mountain skiing available near Flagstaff in the winter. If you think you know all that Arizona has to offer outdoor lovers you might be surprised by these unique mountains in Arizona.
10 Unique Mountains In Arizona
Located in: Kachina Peaks Wilderness
Height: 12,637 feet
Nearby City: Flagstaff
Known For: Humphreys Peak is the tallest mountain in Arizona. It’s a popular hiking and outdoor activity spot all year long. But in the winter it’s one of the best places to ski in Arizona. If you want to see something truly spectacular plan a day hike up Humphreys Peak in the spring when the wildflowers bloom. You’ll be walking through mountain meadows filled with thousands of wild blooms. It’s really something special to see.
There is camping available in some parts of the Kachina Peaks Wilderness, but most people just stay in Flagstaff which is just 11 miles away. When you’re hiking Humphreys Peak you can take the shorter and easier Humphrey Summit Trail after getting the trail at the Snowbowl Resort. Or, if you want more of a challenge you can take the Inner Basin Trail. If you take the Inner Basin Trail you’ll have to take another connecting trail from the caldera inside the mountain to the summit.
Located in: White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation
Height: 11,409 feet
Nearby City: Greer
Known For: Mount Baldy has some of the only real forests that can be found in Arizona. It’s kind of a desolate peak and the summit itself is rock. The forest ends before the summit. Mount Baldy is located on the edge of the White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.
The summit lies entirely within the borders of the Reservation and is off-limits to non-tribal members but you can hike parts of the mountain using the West Baldy Trail #94 and East Baldy Trail #95. Mount Baldy is a popular hike for Arizonans in the summer because they can get out of the intense summer heat and hike through the forest where the temperature is cooler.
Whenever you are hiking in Arizona you must bring plenty of water with you. Don’t assume that water will be available on the mountain because often it won’t be. And in the intense desert summer heat, you can get dangerously dehydrated very quickly.
Located in: Coconino National Forest
Height: 10,425 feet
Nearby City: Flagstaff
Known For: Kendrick Peak is a volcanic dome that is estimated to be over a million years old. There is a fire lookout on the summit of Kendrick Peak that is staffed every day so chances are when you do hike to the summit you won’t be alone up there. From the summit, you can get some spectacular views of the Coconino National Forest that surrounds Kendrick Peak.
To get to the summit there are three trails you can use. You can take the Kendrick Mountain Trail, Pumpkin Trail, or Bull Basin Trail. All of the trails are about 9 miles out and back and the ascent to the summit can be difficult for less experienced hikers. If you’re hiking in the summer months take precautions to hike safely in the extreme heat. It will be a little cooler on the mountain than in the surrounding areas but it’s still going to be quite hot. Stay hydrated, wear sunscreen, and take frequent breaks.
Located in: Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest
Height: 10,916 feet
Nearby City: Greer
Known For: Escudilla Mountain is part of the greater Escudilla Wilderness Area inside the Sitgreaves National Forest. The hike to the summit of Escudilla is so beautiful that the trail itself was given national recognition. When you hike Escudilla mountain you take Escudilla National Recreation Trail – # 308. It’s a three-mile out-and-back trail to the summit of Escudilla Mountain that will take you through forest, mountain meadows, and up to the third-highest peak in Arizona.
Unfortunately, large portions of Escudilla Mountain were seriously damaged in the Wallow wildfire of 2011 and many areas have not yet recovered. The fire tower and lookout on the summit was totally destroyed. And many of the forested areas on the mountain burned too. If you’re going to hike Escudilla you need to pay close attention to your surroundings at all times. The fire damage has made the mountain more prone to rock slides, falling trees, and other potentially dangerous situations.
Located in: Superstition Wilderness
Height: 2,500 feet
Nearby City: Phoenix
Known For: The Superstition Mountains are a series of peaks that are very popular for hiking, biking, trail running, and camping. The stunning craggy silhouette of these peaks and the way that they evening light hits them, along with some spooky local folklore, is how they got their name. But there’s nothing scary about these mountains except maybe the heat.
The climb to the top can be rough. And in the summer temps often soar over 110 degrees. Anyone attempting to hike or run in the Superstition Mountains in Arizona needs to be very careful. Take lots of water or sports drinks with you because there is no running water in these mountains. Dress appropriately for the weather and don’t hesitate to take breaks if you feel faint or dizzy.
There are several trails that you can take to get to the summit of the tallest mountain in the Superstitions. The Flatiron Trail is the most challenging and has the steepest ascent. The Superstition Peak 5024 Trail is another popular one. The Wave Cave Trail will take you around the base of the mountains and through an old goldmine.
Located in: Phoenix Valley
Nearby City: Phoenix
Known For: Camelback Mountain is known for the unique shape of its peaks. The configuration of the peaks looks just like a camel in profile walking on the horizon. Camelback Mountain is one of the most popular hiking mountains in Arizona because it’s easy to access and it’s a great place to day hike. Only day hiking is allowed at Camelback Mountain, the park is only open from sunrise to dusk daily.
There are just two trails that you can use to hike to the summit. You can hit both peaks on the same day if you’re in good enough shape. The two trails for hiking are the Cholla Trail and the Echo Canyon Trail. Both trails are rated as difficult and you must be an experienced hiker to hike to the peaks of this mountain. Each summit is narrow and rocky and requires rock climbing and rock scrambling to get to the top. Even though it’s not easy to get to the top of this mountain you will get 360-degree views of the entire city and the Phoenix Valley from the top.
Hikers are cautioned to be careful hiking in the hot. This is a tough hike in the hot desert climate and it’s easy to get dangerously dehydrated and sick. At each trailhead, there is water and other conveniences and you should use them.
Cathedral Rock Mountain
Located in: Coconino National Forest
Height: 4,967 feet
Nearby City: Sedona
Known For: Cathedral Rock is an instantly recognizable mountain because it’s one of the most photographed mountains in Arizona. It sits in the heart of the natural red sandstone mountains and caverns near Sedona. The Red Rocks area of the Arizona desert is a truly magical place and everyone who visits there is moved by the experience of seeing these amazing rock formations.
The hike up to the summit of Cathedral Rock can be done by a couple of different trails. No matter which way you approach this hike you’re going to be rock scrambling at least part of the way. This is a short hike that’s just two miles out and back but it’s very steep and the incline rises fast. The most popular trail to the summit is the USFS Trail #170. It’s the shortest and easiest of the trails to the top.
No matter what trail you take if you’re hiking Cathedral Rock make sure that you bring lots of water and some snacks with you. Even though it’s a short distance it’s going to take a lot of physical strength to get to the top.
Located in: Coronado National Forest
Height: 9,157 feet
Nearby City: Tucson
Known For: Most people wouldn’t think that any place close to Tucson, which is known for searing hot temperatures, could get snow. But Mount Lemmon, which is sometimes called Frog Mountain by locals, has a bustling ski resort that gets over 100 inches of snow per season. So if you want to say that you’ve been skiing in Arizona, Mount Lemmon is the place to go.
Mount Lemmon is a great place to hike, trail run, and bike during the rest of the year. There is even a special podcast you can download and listen to as you hike that will point out all the very cool features Mount Lemmon has like rare flowers, the wildlife on the mountain, and geological anomalies. Load up the Mt. Lemmon Science Tour app on your phone before you head out to hike Mount Lemmon.
Located in: Four Peaks Wilderness
Height: 7,659 feet
Nearby City: Phoenix
Known For: Four Peaks is a stunning mountain that has four peaks that sit outside the eastern edge of Phoenix. Four Peaks used to be an amethyst mine that was famous for producing top-quality amethysts. Now it towers over the Phoenix landscape giving city dwellers a stunning view of four snow-capped peaks.
Four Peaks is one of the most popular mountains in Arizona for hiking. The hike up to the peaks is challenging but not so difficult that intermediate hikers can’t do it. And the hike or run over the four peaks is a beautiful trail that offers magnificent views. And cool mountain air, which can be quite a wonderful thing during the blistering Arizona summer. There’s also a lot of wildlife on the mountain. When you’re hiking Brown’s Trail, which is the trail to the peaks, you could see black bears, coyotes, ring-tailed cats, or other animals. Watch out for rattlesnakes though!
Located in: Prescott National Forest
Height: 7,818 feet
Nearby City: Prescott Valley
Known For: Mingus Mountain is part of the Prescott National Forest, where there are lots of places to hike, camp, fish, and enjoy the outdoors. But Mingus Mountain has one special claim to fame that no other mountains in Arizona have. It’s the premier launch site for hang gliders in Arizona. Only members of the Arizona Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association can launch their gliders from the summit but hikers, campers, and onlookers can all watch the launch and watch the gliders soar to the valley below.
You can hike to the summit of Mingus Mountain or you can drive all the way to the summit on paved service roads create for fire watchers. That’s how the hang gliders are able to get their gliders to the summit.
Summary Of The Unique Mountains In Arizona
|1||Humphreys Peak||Kachina Peaks Wilderness|
|2||Mount Baldy||White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation|
|3||Kendrick Peak||Coconino National Forest|
|4||Escudilla Mountain||Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest|
|5||Superstition Mountain||Superstition Wilderness|
|6||Camelback Mountain||Phoenix Valley|
|7||Cathedral Rock Mountain||Coconino National Forest|
|8||Mount Lemon||Coronado National Forest|
|9||Four Peaks||Four Peaks Wilderness|
|10||Mingus Mountain||Prescott National Forest|
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/digidreamgrafix
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What is the highest point in Arizona?
Humphreys Peak is the tallest mountain in Arizona at 12,637 feet.
Is there any skiing in Arizona?
Most people wouldn’t think that anyplace close to Tucson, which is known for searing hot temperatures, could get snow. But Mount Lemmon, which is sometimes called Frog Mountain by locals, has a bustling ski resort that gets over 100 inches of snow per season.
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