Hiking Arizona: Getting Started


Image courtesy of: Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department

I wanted to start with a brief introduction, Michele Guss, friend of Jay’s, REALTOR®, and avid hiker!

I had the pleasure of enjoying a few adult beverages with Jay and Francy after this year’s Real Estate Bar Camp event. Like any happy hour with friends you haven’t seen in a while the typical “what have you been doing lately” question comes up. I told them as much as I love real estate, I had been looking for something else to do to give me balance in my life and that I found it hiking. The truth is I love hiking as much (even more some days) as I enjoy helping people buy and sell real estate in Arizona. Jay invited me to guest post on the Phoenix Real Estate Guy blog so I can share with you what I am passionate about. After thinking about it I decided, why not! After all this blog has a loyal following, I can write about what I enjoy, and I just might pick up a buyer or seller along the way.

Today’s post, and most likely my posts in the future, will focus on my “other” passion, hiking. Arizona is like a BIG playground for people who love to get out to hit the trails. Before you do, I would like to offer a few tips and suggestions on how to get started and stay safe while you are enjoying all that hiking in Arizona has to offer.

Before You Go:

  • Check the weather before you head out. Wear appropriate clothing and footwear. Always be sure to wear a hat or visor, sun protection (even in the winter months), and hiking boots or shoes designed specifically for trails. I also bring chap stick and a small first aid kit. The gnats are horrible in May so you may want to bring bug spray as well. Tip: During the hotter months I wear a wet bandana on my head to keep cool and bring a wet washcloth with me to cool down as well.
  • Research the trail before you go. You can find trail information about the length of the trail, terrain, difficulty rating, elevation, and facilities (water, bathroom, etc) at various websites online. Most trailheads have maps available for you to take on the trail with you.
  • Be sure to choose a trail that is within your ability. If you are just getting started hiking or not sure what your ability is, start with easy shorter hikes until you become familiar with the trails then work your way up to longer more difficult hikes. When I decided I wanted to try hiking I joined a beginners Meet Up hiking group so I could hike with others that were familiar with the trails.
  • Hydrate with WATER before, during, and AFTER each hike. Bring plenty of water with you on the hike. The general rule of thumb is to bring 4–8 ounces of water for every 10-20 minutes you will be on the trail. If you are planning to do longer hikes and/or hike in the summer months (mid May – mid October) consider investing in a hydration backpack. They work great! When your water is halfway gone, turn around and head back to the trailhead.
  • Don’t hike alone. (I don’t always follow this rule BUT if I am hiking alone I only do so on trails that have plenty of traffic from other hikers or mountain bikers)
  • Bring a cell phone with you but keep in mind you may not have reception on trails that are remote.
  • Tell someone what trail you will be hiking and when you are expected to return.
  • Most of the local trails have emergency markers. Pay attention to where they are in the event you need assistance this will help emergency personnel locate you.
  • “Hike out what you hike in” Be sure to take all trash with you and dispose of it at the trailhead.

Hiking In the Summer Months in Arizona:

  • Be aware and alert on the trail. In the summer months it is especially common to encounter snakes. If you see a snake on the trail, STOP. If it a rattlesnake and it has shaken it’s rattle this is a warning. Don’t panic, slowly back up and allow it to pass.
  • In the hotter months be sure to hit the trail early in the morning or late afternoon/evening.
  • If you are hiking at night bring a flashlight or wear a headlamp.
  • Consider taking a trip up north to hike where it is cooler.

Hiking with Dogs:

  • Check before you go to see if that trail allows pets.
  • Keep your dog on a short lease at all times
  • Bring bags with you to remove pet waste
  • If you intend to hike with your dog remember they do not have the ability to sweat so be sure to bring plenty of water for your pet to avoid dehydration.
  • Leave your pet at home during the hot summer months. There have already been 4 pet deaths in the McDowell Scottsdale Sonoran Preserve this year and it is only mid May.

Trail Etiquette and Safety Rules to follow:

  • All hikers and bikers yields to horses. Step off the downside of the trail as they approach to let them pass.
  • Bikers yield to hikers (but most of the time they don’t)
  • Uphill traffic yields to downhill traffic.
  • Warn others when you are coming from behind.

I hope these tips help. Be sure to look for my next post, Hiking Arizona: Tonto Natural Bridge. Until then, be safe, enjoy, and remember “In the end you won’t remember the time you spend working in the office or moving the lawn. Go climb that damn mountain!!”




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About the Author
Michele Guss

Michele Guss is a REALTOR with Realty ONE Group, serving the Phoenix East Valley. Originally from Washington, D.C. (and still loves her Redskins!), now an AZ girl and an avid hiker. When she is not providing world-class service to her real estate clients she can often be found hiking, climbing and crawling over, on and through trails in Arizona's mountains and deserts.

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  1. [...] my first post in the Hiking Arizona series I provided suggestions and tips for how to get started hiking. [...]

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