There aren’t many locations better to visit if you enjoy trekking in the desert than Tucson, Arizona. Tucson, which is bordered by a national park and four mountain ranges, provides countless opportunities to take in the subtle and spectacular beauty of the Sonoran Desert. Top hiking trails in Tucson? Continue reading.
There is also a ton of variety. If you’re up for a challenge, take a gorgeous stroll through some of the state’s most difficult terrain in Catalina State Park. Or, if you’re traveling with a group, consider the well-liked and accessible Seven Falls Trail.
Surprisingly diverse hiking trails may be found all across Tucson, from desert hikes among cacti to alpine treks through towering pine forests. There are many options for hiking, including flat paths that allow for a more leisurely day of trekking, difficult treks with significant elevation gains, and short or lengthy trails.
You have a good possibility of seeing animals because there are many birds and other creatures in the nearby parks and natural areas. Tumamoc Hill provides hiking right in the center of Tucson if you don’t feel like leaving the city.
1. Best Tucson Hiking Trails
Tucson is a stunning city in Southern Arizona that attracts visitors and residents alike with its wealth of leisure and cultural opportunities and pleasant temperature. However, Tucson, which is adjacent to Phoenix and has about 350 days of sunlight annually, has something to offer everyone and is a terrific area to live for anyone who enjoys being outside.
The city is mostly made up of desert landscapes, although there are five tiny mountain ranges surrounding the cities that are great for hiking and nature treks. Tucson, Arizona, would be the best choice if you were looking for a classic desert adventure. Moreover, Tucson is the only location for these magnificent and renowned hiking routes.
It is spread throughout the muddy plains of the Sonoran Desert, encircled by five different mountain ranges, and home to the lovely and biodiverse Saguaro National Park. We’ve made a few excursions to Tucson, Arizona, to explore the hiking trails, and we’re always astounded by what we find. Here is our ranking of the top hiking routes in Tucson.
1.1. Bear Canyon Trail To Seven Falls
The journey through the Seven Falls Trail from Bear Canyon is one of the best walks close to Tucson. Pack a swimsuit because the trail ends at a cool swimming hole at the base of a waterfall. To avoid the crowds on this well-used trail, leave early in the morning and on non-weekend days.
Although it is dry for the majority of the year, Seven Falls is a tranquil desert landscape trail that runs through a wash several times. The path is quite simple to follow except for a sequence of switchbacks leading up to Seven Falls.
Unless you take an excursion on the Sabino Canyon Tram, which reduces the distance in half, the entire trail is 8 miles long. The Bear Canyon Trail’s trailhead is at the Sabino Canyon Recreation Center. You can wait for the 10-minute tram ride or hike the additional four miles through the wooded trails and washes.
1.2. Sutherland Trail
The Sutherland Trail, which starts at Catalina State Park, offers a beautiful journey through a desert landscape before ascending to the highlands at an elevation of 8,600 feet.
You don’t have to finish the entire path to enjoy this region; it is 10.8 miles long and not for the faint of heart. The trail eventually travels over some moderately rolling hills and crosses a seasonal stream.
If you have the stamina and time, the entire hike, with a 5,900-foot height rise, offers very distinct views. The trail ascends, at times fairly steeply, to a region of tall pine trees and breathtaking mountain views.
1.3. Blackett’s Ridge Trail
Few of the best hiking trails in Tucson on our list provide the same breathtaking panoramic vistas as the Blackett’s Ridge Trail. Although there is a brief period of steep elevation gain, the views of Sabino Canyon, Mount Lemmon, and the Santa Catalina Mountains more than makeup for it.
It takes 2.5 to 3 hours to finish the entire walk. It requires some scrambling on some of the steep and rocky sections, so good hiking boots and sure footing are essential. In this area of the Coronado National Forest, there is very minimal protection from the scorching Arizona sun, so always use sun protection or go out in the shade.
1.4. Loma Verde Loop, Saguaro National Park
Make an effort to the Loma Verde Loop Trail in Saguaro National Park if you want a good introduction to Tucson’s lowland scenery. With lots to see and do along the way, such as exploring an abandoned mine site and taking in the 360-degree panoramic views from Tanque Verde Ridge, this beginner-friendly walk offers a tranquil trip.
You may fully immerse yourself in the characteristic Tucson flora and animals at Loma Verde. Interesting mesquite vegetation, with big saguaros and ancient barrel cacti, surrounds the route. Watch out for Arizonan wildlife including collared peccaries, roadrunners, and horned lizards.
The Loma Verde Loop is relatively unused, so you can expect to encounter a few other visitors during your trek. There are many junctions along the way leading to other areas of Saguaro National Park, but they are all well-signposted.
1.5. King Canyon Trail
The quiet and serene King Canyon path is frequently overshadowed by all the other appealing treks in the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. That’s a great shame because King Canyon provides isolation, something the well-traveled Sabino Canyon paths do not.
The amazing Sonoran Desert vegetation and animals may be seen along this 7.8-mile loop, which is also known as the Wasson Peak Trail. Additionally, you can avoid navigating through crowds to get to Wasson Peak (4,687 feet), the highest peak in the Tucson Mountain District.
It usually takes 4 hours to accomplish this course, which is regarded as being somewhat difficult. Take in the beauty of Tucson and Southern Arizona as you zigzag your way up some magnificent slopes on the route!
1.6. Honeybee Canyon North Trail
With only a 30-minute drive from Tucson’s city center, Honeybee Canyon Park is the ideal location for a fast outing in the great outdoors. The Honeybee Canyon Trail is a pleasant, mostly flat trail with few elevation fluctuations. You’ll just have to arrange your trip around the scorching Arizona heat since the trail offers minimal cover because the park is dog-friendly and open all year.
There are only a few mildly tough and rocky areas on this family- and beginner-friendly hike, but nothing that can’t be managed with the right hiking boots on. Step back in time and examine the prehistoric petroglyphs and other historical sites while keeping an eye out for occasional glimpses of the Pusch Ridge Mountains.
1.7. Mica View Loop, Saguaro National Park
Another trek suitable for families is the Mica View Loop in Saguaro National Park. This hike may be located in the park’s eastern region, which is characterized by a peculiar and beautiful “cactus forest.” You may see the Santa Catalina and Rincon Mountains, which rise in the distance, by looking up throughout the entire walk.
The 3.7-mile length of this comparatively level circle can be reduced in half at the halfway point by taking the Cactus Forest Trail. Just keep an eye out for the signage designating the start of the Cactus Forest Trail as you proceed along the Cholla Trail.
1.8. Romero Canyon Trail To Romero Pools
A beautiful collection of falls and swimming pools can be found along the Romero Canyon Trail, which gets harder as it goes. Despite the short distance, you’ll face a strenuous elevation increase of more than 1,000 feet.
To get to the Romero Pools from the trailhead, you must travel about 3 miles through the Catalina Mountains. Keep a watch out for a variety of desert wildlife, including over 150 species of birds, which make Catalina State Park home due to the interesting biodiversity in this area of the park.
Also, be sure to bring your bathing suit so you can cool off in the Romero Pools. However, depending on the season, you might only find a tiny pool of water.
1.9. Tumamoc Hill Trail
Review Tumamoc Hill if you’re looking for a quick and secure hike inside the boundaries of Tucson. This beautiful Sonoran Desert preserve is a protected area run by the University of Arizona. This area of the Tucson Mountains has been used for scientific research by university students for more than a century.
The trail is lined with signs describing the many faunae that may be seen here. Every step of the way up, you’ll get to take in panoramic vistas of the city. Wheelchairs and strollers can be used on the entire trail because the walkway is wide and paved. But don’t be deceived by the trail’s short length. In just under 1.5 miles, you’ll still be climbing a quad-busting 700 feet!
1.10. Linda Vista Trail
A family-friendly trail that is just far enough from the city for enjoying some peace is the Linda Vista Loop. It is a lovely, relaxing tour for people of all ages and is rich in desert flora and picturesque landscapes.
Beginners and lone hikers should consider this trail because it is wide and well-marked. A straightforward 1.5-mile out-and-back stroll is the shortest hike. There are many minor trails that you may connect to create a loop back to the trailhead if you want to extend your journey.
1.11. Yetman Trail, Tucson Mountain Park
In Tucson Mountain Park, there is a moderate hike called the Yetman Trail that travels through various Sonoran Desert landscapes. The intriguing ruins of a stone home known as Bowen Ranch are one of the reasons the hike is well-liked by the locals. The trail is only five miles out and back if you turn around once you arrive at the property.
Despite its length, the Yetman Trail only has a total elevation increase of 500 to 700 feet. This is a nice alternative if you want a longer hike without the strenuous climb of the Sutherland Trail.
1.12. Tanque Verde Falls Trail
East of Tucson, there is a quick and breathtaking climb to Tanque Falls. Its main attraction is an 80-foot waterfall with a cool swimming spot at its base. Despite being brief, the hike is moderate due to the challenging elevation gain and some slippery rocks you must scramble over.
You will right away come across a wash at the trailhead, which is located just behind the parking area. The upper and lower Tanque Verde Falls will likely be flowing as well if the wash is filled with water.
Just be aware that it’s common to see people hanging out in nothing but their hiking boots and hat in the Reddington Pass region of the Rincon Mountains, which is a haven for nudists. You decide whether you remain clothed, but in either case, make sure to enjoy the cool waters beneath Tanque Verde Falls.
1.13. Cactus Forest Trail
The Cactus Forest path in Saguaro National Park’s Rincon Mountain District is an additional short but simple path. The Cactus Forest Scenic Loop Drive’s interior is traversed via a flat 2.5-mile track that passes saguaro and other desert plants.
Keep an eye out for wildlife, especially birds. The baby-like quail screams are frequently audible or at least visible, as are the peeping woodpeckers that you can see settling on the saguaros.
The path may be accessed from either the north or south trailheads, but since you can take a vehicle shuttle only one way and the scenery is finest when you are traveling north, it is recommended that you begin at the south trailhead.
1.14. Bridal Wreath Falls
Bridal Wreath Falls, a family-friendly trek in the Rincon Mountains near Tucson, is one of the area’s simpler hikes. The trail is 5.5 miles long and gains height by a manageable 1,080 feet. The falls will always have water if you hike this trek soon after a major downpour.
The trail begins flat before gradually ascending and passing among saguaro, cholla, and barrel cacti typical Sonoran Desert plants. A lovely pool may be found at the base of the waterfall, which is around 25 feet high. Watch out for wildlife; this rather dependable water supply frequently draws a wide diversity of creatures.
The real Bridal Wreath Trail is barely a quarter of a mile long, so keep in mind that you’ll be on the Douglas Springs Trail for the remainder of the hike.
1.15. Mount Wrightson via Old Baldy Trail
Take into account the Mount Wrightson trail if you have enough stamina and endurance to complete a longer, more difficult hike. The five-mile trail (10-mile round trip) climbs approximately 4,000 vertical feet, so it is not for the faint of heart. Those who succeed in reaching the summit are rewarded with panoramic vistas, and in the spring, the wildflowers are magnificent.
The route provides some shelter in the lower half, but as you go up, it gets more open; on a warm day, winds can make this stretch rather enjoyable. If you intend to visit in January or February, bring micro spikes and poles because the elevation frequently results in snow and ice on the trail.
1.16. The Window
As the name suggests, this strenuous hike will lead you to a location with an amazing perspective of the valley level. You’ll be climbing 1,290 feet to the peak and traversing 12.3 miles, so fuel up with a filling breakfast and bring some snacks.
As it climbs Ventana Canyon, the trail usually stays on a dry creek bed. Depending on the season, you can come across pools with water in them. Due to the relative quantity of water, the riverbed and valley bottom are lush and popular with birds and other animals.
The Window is a fascinating natural feature that is simple to locate before you ever get there. If you think it will be too difficult to get to The Window, think about stopping at the stunning Maiden Pools at mile 5.1, taking a rest, and coming back down.
1.17. Desert Loop
This quick tour loop takes visitors past a variety of exhibits, interpretive sites, and educational displays that give them a crash lesson in the features that make the Sonoran Desert such an intriguing and distinctive ecosystem.
You can stop by an indoor exhibit like the vertebrate, amphibian, and invertebrate hall to get a closer look at some of the smaller creatures that roam the desert while you stroll if you want to view some of the larger Sonoran wildlife like javelinas, coyotes, and mountain lions.
Keep an eye out for the informational plaques alongside the cacti, trees, and flowers as you make your way around the loop since they include all the details you require regarding the diverse array of flora found in the Sonoran Desert.
2. Wrapping Up
Tucson, Arizona gives visitors one of the nation’s most recognizable vistas, nestled in the Sonoran Desert and encircled by four different mountain ranges. Tucson boasts a wide range of possibilities for hikers wishing to get outside, from expansive vistas full of historic saguaro cacti to seemingly hidden desert oases’ and high-elevation woods.
There aren’t many better spots to lace up your hiking boots than Tucson, Arizona, with Tumamoc Hill right around the corner, five mountain ranges around the city, and miles and miles of breathtaking desert surrounding the city. We sincerely hope that our list of Tucson’s top hikes has helped help you organize your upcoming outdoor excursion!