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Arizona Trails

Meet Scott Jones, Backpacker's Phoenix Trail Scout

Our southwest hiking expert dishes on his favorite dayhikes, overnights, and more.

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Age: 38

Hometown: Phoenix, AZ

Day job: Public lands conservation (with Arizona Conservation Partners)

All-time favorite dayhike: Probably Garden Valley loop in the Superstitions. It’s not the gnarliest hike, nor does it offer the biggest views, but it was the first trail I fell in love with in high school so it’ll always be special to me.

Favorite local overnight hike: Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness is incredibly gorgeous, perfect for off-trail exploring. Nothing compares to cold, clear water flowing past stately saguaros. It’s my go-to easy overnight trip for getting a first-timer hooked on backpacking.

Best pre-hike breakfast spot: Donuts at the trailhead.

Post-hike dinner: Mandatory cheeseburger and a pint at a local craft brewery.

Favorite thing about hiking around Phoenix: Desert in the winter, the high country in the summer—follow the weather and you can easily enjoy trails all year round.

Top tip for Phoenix hikers: We’re incredibly fortunate to have so many great trails within an hour or two of Phoenix. My advice is to make sure that you hike them all; don’t get stuck in a rut enjoying the same one over and over. Challenge yourself to explore as many as you can.