The high desert landscape of Southern Arizona is unique and breathtaking with dramatic mountain peaks, one-of-a-kind native plant and wildlife, and clear blue skies almost every day of the year. It is the perfect setting for anyone who loves hiking (or wants to do more of it), and there are trails scattered throughout Cochise County where you can strap on your boots and take an unforgettable stroll with plenty of picture-worthy opportunities along the way. If you’re thinking of relocating to Sierra Vista or Fort Huachuca, don’t forget to follow these tips for planning a day of hiking to start exploring the area.
Choose Your Trail
You don’t have to be a backcountry adventurer to hike in Southern Arizona—although there are trails for you too if that’s your style. From short, flat nature walks to moderate climbs to intensely strenuous mountain hikes, there is something for everyone in these great Cochise County hiking areas:
- Chiricahua National Monument – The Chiricahua National Monument is worth a visit whether or not you plan on hitting the trails. Even from the visitor center, you can get breathtaking views of the dramatic rock formations of the Chiricahuas. For a short hike here, take the 1.5-mile trail to Fort Bowie. You can also find longer, more secluded hikes with 15 trail combinations in the trail network at the monument.
- Cochise Stronghold – The Cochise Stronghold features huge granite boulders that were once used as a fortress by the Apache people in the Dragoon Mountains. Today, you will find a 4.5-mile hiking trail here where you can explore this unique sight. The hike is moderately strenuous and exposed to the elements, so come prepared with lots of water and sun protection.
- Arizona Trail – Traveling the entirety of the Arizona Trail is no small feat, as the whole trail is more than 800 miles long. It stretches from Mexico to Utah across Arizona, but the first 21 miles of the trail can be easily reached from Sierra Vista for bite-sized chunks of this huge adventure.
- Huachuca Mountains – The Arizona Trail is nestled in the Huachuca Mountains, but there you’ll also find Miller Canyon, the Crest Trail, and the Coronado Cave Trail, which all offer unique views and attractions.
When heading out to any trail in the area, be aware of the weather, especially during monsoon season. Monsoons can strike suddenly and quickly and cause flooding in canyon areas and other lowland trails. Throughout the year, be aware of local wildlife and always stay on trails to preserve the natural setting and avoid potential hazards.
Bring the Right Supplies
Once you choose your trail, you’ll want to get packed up and ready to hike. Most trails are accessible via paved or gravel roads, so you will not need four-wheel drive to access the most popular hiking areas. You will, however, need to bring along some essential supplies to ensure a safe and comfortable hike.
- Sun Protection – You won’t want to go far from your house without sunscreen when you live in Sierra Vista, but you should add some layers of protection when you’ll be exposed to the elements all day on a hike. Bring along a wide-brimmed hat and wear lightweight, breathable clothing that covers as much skin as possible. It’s always a good idea to wear long pants on trails to avoid getting pricked by thorny undergrowth or stray cacti.
- Water – Even if you go for a hike in the winter, chances are it will be sunny and dry, so you will want to have plenty of water on hand. Do not rely on finding water sources on the trail. Bring along about one liter of water for every two hours of hiking—this translates to about .5 liters per mile.
- Snacks – Along with staying hydrated, you should think about refueling on the trail. You’ll be burning lots of energy while you hike, so bring along some quick snacks that are packed with nutrition to keep you going. Choices like protein bars, nuts, dried fruits, and jerky are all great choices. If the hike is going to last for more than 4 hours, consider bringing along a lunch too.
- Maps and Trail Guides – You can’t rely on your cell phone for service when you are in the mountains, so download any maps or trail guides you need before you take off. Or, bring along paper copies.
- First-Aid Supplies – It’s always best to be prepared, even if you are a seasoned hiker. A first-aid kit should be in any hiker’s pack, and it should include bandages, gauze, anti-bacterial ointment, and cortisone cream. If you have known allergies to insect stings, bring an epi-pen along too.
After a long day of hiking, there’s nothing like coming home to a beautiful, luxurious home in one of many communities designed and constructed by Castle & Cooke. To find your perfect home in Cochise County, check out our website or call us at (520) 378-5110.