Oak Flats

Part of the trail plunging into Queen Creek Canyon.
Part of the trail plunging into Queen Creek Canyon.
Megan Dobransky

As spring makes a quick appearance in Arizona, the days for camping and hiking are perfect (and numbered). 

Luckily, there are tons of places just outside of the Valley where you can take advantage of the natural beauty, gorgeous weather, and off-the-beaten path hikes, including Oak Flats.

Oak Flats Campground is a centralized (and free) choice that's about an hour east of the Phoenix metro area.

From here, there are a number of organic hikes in the area without official trail heads as well as climbs a bit further up Magma Mine Road from the campground.

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The closest mapped trail is Bellamy Trail, which descends rather sharply from the US 60 down into Queen Creek Canyon, a beautiful, craggy gorge.

Once on the bottom, the hike along the creek bed is can get difficult; there's not much of an elevation climb, but you will have to navigate some large boulders and overgrown plants. There's a little seasonal waterfall that you'll stumble across at one point, too.

The 13.6-mile backpacker's paradise, Reevis Trail, is about 12 miles north of the campground on Queen Creek Canyon Rd.

The campground itself is fairly primitive with a few outhouse-style bathrooms, but no running water or trash cans. Pack in, pack out.

To get to Oak Flat Campground take the U.S. 60 East, go through the Queen Creek Tunnel and turn right onto Magma Mine Rd.; there will be a sign for the campground. From there, follow the signs to the campground.

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