10 Cool Outdoor Spots and Hikes in Northern Arizona

Northern Arizona is the place to be during the Valley’s hot summer days. You can enjoy the vivid scenery, refreshing pools of water and varied wildlife on many hiking trails in the North Country. We’ve listed a few spots recommended by locals that don’t require hiking boots, including parks, farms and zoos in Pine, Dewey, Show Low and Prescott. It’s difficult to narrow down the list, but here are a few of our favorites. Be sure to check the area websites before traveling for COVID restrictions.

Pick your own berries and produce at a real farm in Dewey, Arizona and give your kids a glimpse into how pumpkins, corn, berries, and veggies are grown. Enjoy over 40 farm-inspired rides, games, activities, farm animals and lovely farm scenery. Don’t forget to visit the country store and bakery before you leave!

12907 East, AZ-169, Dewey, about an hour north of Cadence.

Don’t miss Pine Creek Lavender Farm, surrounded by pine-covered mountains and numerous elk herds, a truly breathtaking setting. Built in the early 1900s by the first homesteaders in Pine, the farm has been given new life as a lovely lavender farm that grows three distinct varieties of lavender: Royal Velvet, Provence, and Grosso. Be sure to take home some lavender products from their shop.

4223 Pine Creek Canyon Dr, Pine, about 95 miles from Cadence

Woodland Lake is a great place to go kayaking or boating, plus you’ll find several hiking, biking and equestrian trails. The park area offers volleyball courts, softball fields and play areas. It’s also home to a number of different fish and bird species, so don’t forget to bring your binoculars, a fishing pole and maybe a hammock!

E. Woodland Lake Rd, Lakeside, about 165 miles from Cadence

Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary is a not-for-profit animal sanctuary. The sanctuary is dedicated to preserving and conserving native and exotic animals and is designed with education, recreation, and entertainment in mind. The park is located on a beautiful ten acres that overlook Willow Lake and HPZS has a variety of unique and interesting exhibits, including the Tarantula Grotto, Wallaby Walk-About (10:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.), and Kiwanis Korner Animal Encounter (10 a.m. – 3 p.m.). Each day while you’re visiting the park, you can catch our Mountain Lion being fed at 11 am,

1403 Heritage Park Road, Prescott, about 2 hours north of Cadence

Fool Hollow is a wonderful natural park located in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. You can hike along the lake, camp, fish, take a boat ride, watch the wildlife or simply enjoy a picnic amidst stunning mountain scenery. Very close to the city of Show Low.

Two miles north of US 60 off Highway 260 in Show Low, about 150 miles from Cadence

Hiking Trails in Northern Arizona

  • West Fork, Sedona

Distance: 7 miles round trip

Difficulty: Easy

This is an extremely popular hike along Oak Creek in a forest setting along a beautiful creek with red rock canyon walls. It’s an easy hike for kids, shaded by trees, and you get to cross the creek multiple times by stepping on stones. Be cautious of the slippery rocks and wear shoes that you don’t mind getting wet. We saw a deer in the distance during one of our hikes here. Beautiful in all seasons, with fall colors in autumn and lush greens and flowers in spring and summer.

Directions: From the Sedona area, take HWY 89A towards Flagstaff and up the Oak Creek Canyon. 10 miles from Sedona is the entrance to the signed West Fork Trailhead parking area (near milepost 384), $10 to park. In the summer, parking lot opens at 8 a.m., in the winter at 9 a.m. and fills up quickly.

  • Lava River Cave, Flagstaff

Distance: 1.4 miles to end of cave and back

Difficultly: Moderate

This is a great hike for anyone who loves exploring caves. It’s a mile-long lava tube that was formed roughly 700,000 years ago by molten rock that erupted from a volcanic vent. You’ll be amazed at the stone icicles hanging from the ceiling where a final blast of volcanic heat caused the rock to partially re-liquefy and drip. Bring a flashlight and a jacket, the cave is cold all year round (it’s described as a natural ice box). The entrance is steep, so wear sturdy shoes.

Directions: From the Flagstaff area, take HWY 180 towards the south rim of the Grand Canyon. About 15 miles from Flagstaff (Mile marker 230) is a dirt road to your left (FR 245). After going three miles on this road, turn left again on FR171. After one mile on this road, take another left onto FR171B. The trailhead to the lava river cave is a half mile down this road.

  • Walnut Canyon Rim Trail, Flagstaff

Distance: 1 mile

Difficulty: Easy

The opportunity to observe Native American ruins is one of the highlights of this Rim Trail. As you walk along the trail, imagine what it was like to be an ancient inhabitant of the canyon. The trail is well-marked and paved. The ruins are scattered among the cliffs of the canyon, so bring binoculars. It’s a national park, so you’re liking to experience a crowd during peak times. The Island Trail is a bit longer and more strenuous, but you’ll see 25 cliff dwelling rooms along the path.

Directions: From the Flagstaff area, take I-40 east for a few miles. Follow the signs to the Walnut Canyon National Park.

  • Sycamore Rim Loop, Williams

Distance: 11 miles

Difficulty: Moderate because of length

The Sycamore Rim Loop Trail is an 11-mile forested loop near a dramatic canyon that offers a variety of scenery. The Sycamore Canyon is the second largest canyon in Arizona, after the Grand Canyon. You’ll see natural pools of water, meadows, a waterfall (sometimes dry), interesting rock formations and an old sawmill. Impressive views of the majestic canyon, plus the San Francisco Peaks to the east and Bill Williams Mountain to the west. It’s long, but worth it, or you can choose to hike only a segment of it.

Directions: From the Flagstaff area, take I-40 West towards Williams. Just before reaching the exits for the town of Williams, take the Garland Prairie Road (exit 167) and head south (left). This trail soon turns to a well graded dirt road. Follow this road (also signed as FR141) for 9 miles until you reach the signed junction of FR56. Make a right onto FR56 and drive another 1.9 miles to the well signed trailhead on your left.

  • Kendrick Park Watchable Wildlife Trail, Flagstaff

Distance: 1/4 mile short loop or longer 1 hour loop

Difficulty: Easy

You’ll find a wide variety of bird, insect and animal wildlife on this trail, including porcupine, pronghorn antelope, elk, badger and coyote. The park recommends wearing natural colors, unscented lotions and walking softly to encourage animal sightings. The trail also offers tremendous views of the San Francisco Peaks, Kendrick Mountain, and Kendrick Park.

Location: Adjacent to Highway 180, approximately 20 miles north of Flagstaff on the southern end of Kendrick Park. It is on the west side of Hwy 180 at mile-marker 235.5 and at an elevation of 7,900 feet.

More information on these hikes and others is available at http://www.fs.fed.us/ and http://arizonahiking.org/

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