Stay cool in Yuma with 5 awesome water hikes

view of the Colorado River

View of the Colorado River from West Wetlands Park in Yuma, Arizona (Shutterstock Photo/Noah Sauve)

By Teresa K. Traverse

May 22, 2024

Hiking in southern Arizona? Here’s where you can keep your cool by sticking close to a water source in Yuma.

When those temperatures soar over the summer months, that leaves us searching for one thing when we’re hiking: water. If you happen to be in Yuma and are looking to get some exercise without straying far from that ever-important life source, here are five “water hikes” where you can do exactly that.

As an added bonus, these are all relatively easy and make for breezy strolls. If you’re hiking during the summer, it’s best to stay off the trails during the afternoon hours when the heat is at its peak. And remember: Just because you’re near water, doesn’t mean it’s going to be drinkable, so bring some of your own for that purpose. Be sure to pack mosquito repellent; they like to congregate near water, making you a target.

 

East Wetlands Interpretive Trail

Yuma Crossing Bike Path

The trailhead is located at 50 Prison Hill Road near Riverside Park.

Located within the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area, this easy 3.5-mile trail will take you by the Colorado River around the East Wetlands. According to the park’s brochure map, Yuma’s East Wetlands are largely thought of as some of the most remarkable restored wetlands in all of the Southwest. More than 200,000 native trees and grasses have been planted in The Heritage Area’s 400 acres since 2004, including cottonwood, willow, and mesquite trees. The loop trail is mostly flat and offers a pleasant walk; you might even spot horseback riders, birders, and mountain bikers on the trail.

 

West Wetlands Park

Stay Cool in Yuma With 5 Awesome Water Hikes
Photo courtesy of Visit Yuma

282 N. 12th Ave.

The 110-acre West Wetlands Park was originally a city dump that closed in 1970. Today it’s a beautiful city park with a hiking trail that follows the Colorado River and takes you to two beaches—Playa Linda and Centennial Beach—where you can swim. Centennial Beach includes a boat launch. There also are plenty of attractions to check out in the park; visitors can see the Ed Pastor Hummingbird Garden, compete on a disc golf course, or hang out at the Stewart Vincent Wolfe Memorial Playground—also known as “Castle Park” due to its most prominent feature.

 

Yuma Main Canal

Much like the canals throughout metro Phoenix, Yuma’s Main Canal offers plenty of recreational opportunities that make it more than a paved trail following a waterway. The trail starts at the West Wetlands and goes until 32nd Street, from which it continues unpaved. The paved trail is roughly 7 miles out-and-back and makes for a breezy stroll with a handful of road crossings. Be sure to wear a hat and sunglasses as there’s virtually no shade here, and keep an eye out for the many bikers who you’ll likely be sharing the path with.

 

Colorado River State Historic Park

Stay Cool in Yuma With 5 Awesome Water Hikes
Photo courtesy of Colorado State Park

201 N. 4th Ave.

Fees: The park charges a $10 entrance fee for people ages 14 and up. Admission costs $9 for seniors age 62 and up, and $5 for active military and kids ages 7-13. Kids 6 and under get in free.

Located on 10 acres, the Colorado River State Historic Park features buildings that were part of the US Army Quartermaster Depot. This depot was built in 1864 and served as a warehouse for the Army that contained up to six months of clothing, food, ammunition, and other supplies for military forts throughout the Southwest. The park contains five historic buildings that are considered to be some of the best preserved in the entire state of Arizona. One building still houses historic Ford cars and wagons.

A loop trail goes just under half a mile around the park and has some interpretative signs along the paved walkway so you can learn more about the rich history of the place. Some parts of this trail place you close by the Colorado River, offering picturesque views.

 

Betty’s Kitchen Interpretive Trail

From Yuma, take State Highway 95 (16th Street) east 5 miles to Avenue 7E. Turn north on Avenue 7E, following it 9 miles to a point just past Laguna Dam. Turn left at the sign for Betty’s Kitchen.

Designated as a National Recreation Trail in 1992, the Betty’s Kitchen Interpretative Trail is a half-mile trail that weaves through the environment of the Lower Colorado River. This trail also overlooks the Laguna Dam, the first dam constructed on the Colorado River, and features a fishing pier. You may see wildlife including birds, fish, and reptiles. Consider packing lunch, as the area is outfitted with picnic tables and benches, too. Betty’s Kitchen is also nearby the Mittry Lake Wildlife Area. Consider spending some time on the lake to cool off.

Fun fact: Betty’s Kitchen takes its name from a restaurant that was started in the area sometime in the 1930s or ’40s, which was named for one of its workers, Betty Davidson.

 

READ MORE: Here are 9 family-friendly ways to beat the summer heat in Arizona

Author

  • Teresa K. Traverse

    Teresa K. Traverse is a Phoenix, Arizona-based writer and editor. Her work also has appeared in national print outlets including Weight Watchers, Bust and Parenting magazines and on sites like Tripadvisor, Wine Enthusiast, SFGate, Brides, Rachael Ray Every Day, Bustle, Racked, ForRent.com, WeddingWire, Refinery29, The Daily Meal, Oxygenmag.com, USA Today and Fast Company. She's the managing editor of Sedona Monthly. In her spare time, she loves hiking, reading magazines and spending quality time with her long-haired Chihuahua, Rocket. Visit teresaktraverse.com to check out more of her work.

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