When we visited Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in 2017, we learned of the National Park Service Hike for Health pins. Five National Park sites in Arizona participate, and each has a unique pin one can earn just by hiking a minimum distance in the park. The hiking distance can be accumulated over multiple trails on multiple days. Just take photos of yourselves on each trail hiked to show the staff at the visitor centers.
Where and how we earned our National Park Service Hike for Health pins
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument: 5 miles required.
Since we were staying in the campground in the park, we took the Desert View Trail for 1.2 miles. The trailhead was accessible from the campground, though we would consider it more of a walk than a hike. Next we hiked the Arch Canyon Trail. The maintained trail is 1.2 miles round-trip, but we decided to keep going up to the top of the rocks to the arch. The route was marked with “unofficial” cairns but turned into a fairly challenging scramble. Since Tiny was riding in a back carrier and making it hard for Dusty to keep his balance, we decided to turn back about halfway up the “unofficial trail.” It’s always been our rule that any of us feels we should turn back on a hike for any reason, the others will respect that. We estimated 2.5 miles total for this hike based on Dusty’s fitness tracker. The next day, we all went on a 1.6 mile ranger-led hike to Red Tanks Tinaja. Although there were a couple of other people on this hike, ours were the only children. They had lots and lots of questions for the ranger about what we were seeing along the trail, and although the pace was slow, the time flew by. We were all excited to get our hiking pin and resolved to get them at the other participating parks the following winter.
Chiricahua National Monument: 5 miles required.
The day we arrived it was rainy, snowy at higher elevations, and the road was closed past the visitor center. Not to be discouraged, we put on rain gear and hiked the Lower Rhyolite Canyon Trail out and back for a total of 3 miles. We came back a couple of days later when things had dried up rode the hikers’ shuttle, which allowed us to hike from Massai point to the Heart of Rocks Loop, then back to the visitor center. This hike was over 7 miles so we got our hiking pins when we got back to the visitor center, but we weren’t done hiking at Chiricahua yet! On subsequent days we hiked Sugarloaf Mountain (1.8 miles) Echo Canyon Loop (3.3 miles) and Natural Bridge Trail (4.8 miles) bringing our hiking total for Chiricahua over a ten-day period to 20.1 miles
Fort Bowie National Historic Site: 3 miles required.
Fort Bowie is unusual in that one doesn’t begin by driving to a visitor center, but rather parks at a trailhead on a gravel road and hikes into the park. A 1.5 mile trail takes one past the post cemetery, Apache spring, ruins of a miner’s cabin, the Indian agency, and the Butterfield Stage Station, ending at the Visitor’s Center and ruins of the second Fort Bowie. We took a guided hike, offered once a week, and received our pin at the visitor center, even though we had only done the first half of the hike. After all, we had to hike back out to get to our car, didn’t we?
Coronado National Memorial: 3 miles required.
We started by exploring Coronado Cave. There’s a half-mile hike to the cave entrance, so there and back gave us one mile. The next morning, we got up early to ride the hikers’ shuttle up in order to hike back to the visitor center via Joe’s Canyon Trail. This hike by itself was just over three miles one way.
Tumacacori National Historical Park: 4 miles required
Although Tumacacori itself was wonderful to see, most of the hike for this pin is outside of the park. We only did it because we wanted to get the last pin! The trail is flat without any particular points of interest and the further we got from the park boundary, the more trash we saw on the ground and in the water. It would be a very good birding walk if one isn’t in a large noisy group, however. We walked two miles out and then two miles back, but another option in January through March is to ride a hikers’ shuttle, offered the first and third Saturday of the month, and hike the four miles one way back to the park.