Trips, Falls, and Other Hiking Hazards in Arizona
While Arizona has some of the most scenic hiking trails anywhere in the West, they can also be the most dangerous. Many of Arizona’s trails expose hikers to great heights, water hazards, and heat injuries. Some trails even bring hikers into snowy areas where they are at risk of hypothermia. Others are hard to follow and hundreds of hikers have gotten lost trying to find their way back to the trailhead.
While these risks shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the great outdoors, they should make you think twice about hiking in areas that are too difficult for your experience level or choosing trails that are too dangerous during hot summer months or cold winters.
Here’s a list of trails where you should use extra caution:
The Grand Canyon. While this is an amazing area for tourists and hikers of all ages and abilities to visit, hiking in some parts can be treacherous. Bright Angel Trail has a vertical climb of more than 4,000 feet and the canyon is much hotter inside than up on the rim. This makes it very dangerous for hikers who aren’t used to quick vertical altitude changes and intense heat. Others fail to pack enough water because they think they can find it along the trail, and this leaves them dehydrated and at risk of heat injury.
Four Peaks. This is one location in Arizona that sees snow during the winter months, and while most hikers are used to being careful about extreme heat, not everyone remembers to dress appropriately for the cold. Brown’s Peak reaches higher than 7,500 feet, and can be below freezing during some months.
Superstition Mountains. It’s easy to get lost in these mountains, especially on more difficult trails that aren’t worn down from lots of hikers. The mountains have miles and miles of similar shrubbery and rock formations, which can make it difficult to find your way back if you are lost.
Echo Canyon. Trails along Echo Canyon are narrow, high on jagged mountains, and can be slippery. Many hikers fall from heights after losing their balance on the trails, especially on Camelback Mountain.
Other places that present a hiking risk include areas that are known for their flash floods. This includes Tanque Verde Falls, Seven Falls, and Cold Springs. Flash floods can occur with little to no warning and could be from rainfall that happened dozens and even hundreds of miles away.
Be Prepared Before Hiking
The best way to avoid hiking accidents including heat injuries, falls, and flash flood drownings is to make sure you understand the area you are visiting. Read all warning signs (usually located at the trailhead) and plan accordingly. Check weather reports for all surrounding locations if you are in a flash flood area. Pack plenty of water if you are hiking along a sunny, hot trail. Pack extra clothing if it could be cold. And of course, make sure to have a working cellphone or satellite phone and let friends know where you are going and when you will return.