Arizona hiking trail by the San Pedro

Bullfrogs croaked. Birds chirped. Lizards rustled in the brush. The San Pedro River National Conservation Area is teeming with life.

Along the banks of the San Pedro River (c) Luanne MattsonIt’s Friday morning, and I’m on a trail near the San Pedro House. I walk in the shade of the cottonwood trees. It’s glorious: temperature 60 degrees F (about 15 degrees C), the sun is shining, and I’m beside a fantastically green corridor in the Western U.S.

The San Pedro’s surface glistened with tiny, soothing ripples. I stare into the brush and up in the trees. Birds hunt bugs. A woodpecker hammers nearby. I peer into the tree, but I can’t spot him.

I hike south from where the San Pedro House trail Ts at the river. Along the way, I catch glimpses of the river that flows south to north into Arizona.

If you’re looking for an idyllic, easy hike, check out the San Pedro River. Footpaths are well-maintained, and the area is just beautiful. It’s known for great birding. In fact, it’s estimated that between 3 million and 12 million birds use the San Pedro River as a migratory route.

Even if you’re not a birder, it’s still a lovely spot. The trail goes along the river and is accessible from the San Pedro House. Check with the staff for a map.Water in the San Pedro River

As you hike, make sure you bring water, good sturdy shoes, sunscreen, and a hat. Early mornings are the best time to go in spring and summer, as that’s when you’ll get the most shade.

Learn more about hiking near the San Pedro River by stopping by the San Pedro House, an information center and gift shop run by the Friends of the San Pedro River, a volunteer organization. They sell bird feeders, jewelry, mugs, field guides, nature videos, and books on archaeology, Native Americans, and more.

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P.S. Do watch for snakes. Lost in thought as I headed back to my car, I stopped short with a quick gasp of breath. This is what I spotted.

Gopher snake on the trail leading to the San Pedro RiverI remembered my dad’s advice with bees: “If you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you.” I gave Mr. Snake a wide berth, and he didn’t bother me. Dad was right, as usual.

I’m no herpetologist, so I couldn’t identify the snake right away. I found out from a Facebook comment that it was a gopher snake. Apparently, they are good at keeping the rodent population down. So if you spot one, just let him be. He’s got a job to do.