The Wave Cave in Gold Canyon, AZ

The Wave Cave

The Wave Cave is both a unique destination and an incredible workout. What more could one ask for, right? After seeing many pictures of this unique geological form on social media, we could not wait to make the trek for ourselves! The scenery along the hike is stunning. There are thousands of Saguaros and breathtaking, expansive views of the valley.

Trail Difficulty

Most consider this trail to the cave as moderately difficult. Even as experienced hikers, we came across a few sketchy areas where we had to take our time.  The trail  may be difficult for children, those with balance issues, or anyone not paying attention to their footing. It’s important to have sturdy hiking shoes that you trust as the route is in a natural state. There are many loose rocks and it can be easy to twist an ankle if your not careful. Once you near the cave, the trail will become more steep and the difficultly levels increases.

Many times going down is easy as you have gravity working for you. With this hike, I believe the climb down was much more difficult. Coming down from the Wave Cave requires good balance which is not always easy with loose rocks and some steep vertical challenges. I like to step sideways while going downhill on uneven surfaces. If you like to use hiking poles, they can be quite helpful on the trek down. Be prepared for some areas that are quite narrow.

Be prepared to step off the trail to allow others to pass as needed. Hiking etiquette is for hikers going uphill have the right-of-way. Keep in mind that sometimes those going uphill don’t mind stopping for a quick break and will allow those coming downhill to pass. The trail is fairly well marked for those who rely on trail markers.

Planning your day

Many days in Arizona can become quite hot very fast. I recommend staring your day at the Wave Cave early. Morning hikes are beautiful and it’s great to beat the heat on those hot Arizona days.  Definitely bring plenty of water no matter what time of year it is. I recommend bringing sunscreen, SPF lip protection, sunglasses and a hat.  High energy snacks or those with electrolytes are always a great idea to stash in your pack.

Be prepared for the approximate six mile dirt road to the trailhead parking (which will take approximately 15 minutes). If the main parking lot is full, there is an overflow parking area. This trail does require a state permit which runs $15 and is good for one year.


If you are looking for a bit of climbing, rock scrambling and a variety of experiences while you are hiking in Arizona, I would recommend checking out the Echo Canyon Trail to the top of Camelback Mountain. Similar to the Wave Cave, there will be a variety of hiking experiences to the summit and back.

I fell in love with these Soloman X Ultra 3GTX which have led me on many hikes and climbs throughout Arizona, Colorado, South Dakota, Ohio, Michigan and Indiana. To help prevent blisters, I like to use moleskin on hot spots and love using these hiking socks – Ininji toe socks, REI liners with socks or Drymax. I have suffered HORRIBLE blisters and these are my “go-to” socks and tips. REI has a few tips regarding blisters you can read about HERE.

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