Hikes in Tucson

Region in Arizona, United States

Too often underrated by Arizona’s hiking enthusiasts, Tucson can’t be looked over when planning an adventure to the Grand Canyon State. The city known for its college culture and excellent food has a secret: it’s got hundreds of hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails to explore. With five mountain ranges in reach, it’s hard to know where to start. The good news is you won’t need to go far with so many quality trails within city limits, and you won’t struggle to find the right trail for you with a generous range of difficulty levels available.

Wherever your adventures in Tucson take you, a few things will remain constant: the heat of the desert, the unique beauty of its ecosystem, and the never-ending saguaros that guide your way. Whether you’re exploring Tucson’s trails on two feet or otherwise, read on to see some of the top trails in and around the city.

15 Incredible Hikes in Tucson

Ready to start exploring? We’re making it easy to get going with 15 of our favorite hikes in Tucson. Our list includes short, easy trails, challenging treks, and everything in between. Work your way through as many as you can on the weekends or make the most of your downtime while visiting the city–you’ll want to keep exploring once you get a glimpse of those desert vistas.

Our top hikes in Tucson are chosen to show off the quintessential desert scenery the city is known for. The good news is, this isn’t Sedona or the Grand Canyon. You’ll have some room to breathe, even on busy routes. While starting with these 15 hikes is a great way to get acquainted with Tucson’s hiking scene, remember that we’ve got plenty more route guides to keep you adventuring.

  • Tumamoc Hill - Tumamoc Hill is one of the most popular hikes in Tucson thanks to its great city views and relatively short length. The route is paved, which is a plus for hikers who prefer or require even footing. Because Tumamoc Hill is on university property, it’s the only hike in the Tucson Mountain Range that is open for night hiking. If you want to watch the sunset or sunrise, this is the place to be!
  • Tanque Verde Falls - Tanque Verde Falls Trail is a popular hike near Tucson that climbs up the Tanque Verde Wash to an awesome 80-foot waterfall. Along the way, you can take advantage of other small waterfalls and swimming holes to cool off. Most of this trail is quite easy and kid-friendly.
  • Bear Canyon to Seven Falls Trail - Bear Canyon to Seven Falls Trail is a real gem. This trail is located at the base of Thimble Peak in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness on the northeast edge of Tucson. It’s excellent for its ease of access from the city and for its diverse, beautiful terrain. You’ll hike next to towering saguaros and prickly pears, witness the area’s astounding bird population fly by, and end your hike at the Broadmoor Seven Falls.
  • Sweetwater Wetlands Loop - The Sweetwater Wetlands Loop leads you a short distance around one of the most important functional, environmental, and educational sites of the City of Tucson’s reclaimed water system. This loop covers a quick 1-mile section. Around 1,000 ft of the wetland pathways are paved and ADA-approved for wheelchair users.
  • Sabino Tram Road - The Sabino Tram Road is one of the most popular hikes in the Tucson area. It’s conveniently accessible from the northeastern edge of the city near the Pusch Ridge Wilderness. The scenery is excellent, the trail is fairly easy, and there’s an option to take the tram along the road instead of hiking if you want a learning experience. The tram ride is narrated and very educational.
  • Sentinel Peak - The Sentinel Peak hike near Tucson is a quick win, offering panoramic views of Tucson and the surrounding mountains on an easy 1.7 mi loop. This hike is ideal if you want a quick leg-stretcher, are taking the kids out, or if you want some time outside but can’t go far or be gone for too long. The elevation gain is mostly gentle and the route is paved and easy to follow.
  • Blackett’s Ridge Trail from Bear Canyon - Blackett's Ridge Trail from Bear Canyon is one of the most beautiful hikes in the Tucson area. The scenery is excellent, the trail is adventurous and challenging, and it doesn’t usually get too busy on this route. This route travels along Blackett’s Ridge to the top of Saddleback, where tall saguaros and big prickly pears line your path.
  • Hutch’s Pool - Hutch's Pool is a popular spot tucked away in the Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson. The route there travels through the Sabino Canyon in the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, known for its rugged desert beauty and plentiful wildlife. This is a rewarding trip that ends at a great swimming hole.
  • Bridal Wreath Falls Trail - Bridal Wreath Falls Trail is often described as worth all the effort required by users, because it does require some effort. Some will find this route challenging, others will feel comfortable with its steady incline, but no matter where you fall on that spectrum, you’ll likely want to revisit this beautiful trail in the future.
  • Bobcat Ridge and Starr Pass - Bobcat Ridge and Starr Pass are two impressive routes combined into one spectacular hike in this approach. In a trail-dense area close to Tucson, this hike gets you out of the city without requiring you to go very far. The views are excellent, mostly featuring the saguaro-dotted rocky hills nearby, the mountains in the distance, and the city reaching out beside you.
  • Chiva Falls Trail - Chiva Falls Trail is a mixed-use route just outside of Tucson that travels through the desert to Chiva Falls, a waterfall tucked into the rock of a canyon. This route is commonly used by hikers, mountain bikers, and off-roaders. After a good rain, the falls are definitely worth the hot hike in.
  • Valley View Overlook Trail - The Valley View Overlook Trail is a quick and easy route in Saguaro National Park West that is lined with gorgeous tall cactus and rolling desert hills. This route is great for families with young kids or beginner hikers who want to get out and enjoy the outdoors on a simple, forgiving trail.
  • Douglas Spring, Bridal Wreath Falls, and Garwood Loop - The Douglas Spring, Bridal Wreath Falls, and Garwood Loop is one of our favorite loops in Saguaro National Park East. The main attraction on this loop is Bridal Wreath Falls. Some will find this route challenging, others will feel comfortable with its sections of steady incline, but no matter where you fall on that spectrum, you’ll likely want to revisit this beautiful trail again in the future.
  • Catalina Canyon Loop - The Catalina Canyon Loop is a wonderful hike in Catalina State Park, which sits at the north end of the Pusch Ridge Wilderness north of Tucson. This hike is dog-friendly and it explores the area around the Sutherland Wash. There are lots of chances to cool your feet off on this family-friendly adventure.
  • Mount Kimball via Finger Rock Trail - Mount Kimball is no small objective, but it is one of the most accessible major summits in the Catalinas, and it’s easy to get to from Tucson. This is a hike that’ll leave you feeling very accomplished when you reach the top, especially since a fair share of the hikers who start this route won’t finish. That’s part of the appeal of this hike, though–you can turn around part way and still be rewarded with great views.

Scroll down to see the full list of hiking trails in Tucson.

When is the Best Time to Hike in Tucson

You’ll see a common theme when it comes to timing your outdoor adventures in Tucson: it’s hot. With temperatures averaging well above 30°C (86°F) from May through October, you’ll generally want to stay inside in the comfort of your air conditioning until mid-October hits.

While hiking in hotter temperatures might not sound so bad to some, we always caution against summer hiking in Tucson due to the prevalence of heatstroke on the trails. It’s exceptionally dry in the desert, so dehydration is a real risk, and you don’t want to be 10km into a trail when you realize you’ve run out of water.

Peak hiking season runs from mid-October through the end of April, with winter being a perfectly fine time to tackle even the sweatiest trails as average temperatures hover at a much more comfortable 20°C (68°F). Some of the higher elevation trails in the Tucson area see snow and ice between December and February, but this generally won’t impede your adventures on all but the highest hiking trails.

As a rule of thumb, most hikes should be comfortable to complete between October and May, but you’ll always want to pack more water than you think you’ll need, sun protection, and layers.

Other Outdoor Activities in Tucson

While the trails are excellent, hiking is certainly not the only way to explore Tucson! This region boasts plenty of space for other outdoor activities.

Adventurers on two wheels can take advantage of the many mountain bike and dirt bike paths. Those with four-legged friends can explore horse and dog-friendly trails. Campers can set up their tents in sites near the city, with some of the closest being in Saguaro National Park. Birders and plant lovers will be spoiled with the fascinating variety of species that call the desert home.

How to Plan a Trip to Tucson

Planning a trip to Tucson is pleasantly less high-pressure than planning trips to some of Arizona’s other outdoor destinations. You won’t find long lines of cars vying for trailhead parking here, nor will you be strapped for places to stay.

Tucson has plenty of accommodation options, from hotels in each corner of the city to short and long-term vacation rentals. If you’re wanting to prioritize hiking, we suggest staying in the eastern and northeastern parts of the city to have easy access to Saguaro National Park East, Catalina State Park, and the Pusch Ridge Wilderness.

Renting a car will make getting around the city as easy as possible, especially since Tucson lacks a well-developed transit system. Trailhead parking is normally easy to find, save for the busiest weekends.

The main parks and recreation areas near Tucson charge modest day-use fees. Budget $5-10 per day per park. We suggest organizing your hiking days by park to make the most of your entrance fees.

Arizona Adventure Tours

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Frequently Asked Questions About Tucson

What is Tucson known for?

Tucson is a designated UNESCO City of Gastronomy. It’s also known for its nightlife thanks to the presence of the University of Arizona. It may be a college and foodie town at heart, but it’s also recognized as a year-round outdoor adventure destination because of its statement saguaros and nearby mountain ranges.

Is Tucson hotter than Phoenix?

Tucson is cooler than Phoenix, with an average temperature of 70.9°F compared to Phoenix’s 75.1°F.

Does it snow in Tucson?

Tucson averages 0 inches of snow per year. The only snow you’ll find in Tucson is on the highest mountain peaks in the middle of winter.

What do you call a person from Tucson?

The correct demonym for someone from Tucson is a Tucsonan, but you’ll hear Tucsonian as well.

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Best Hikes in Tucson

Open details for Tumamoc Hill Hike

Tumamoc Hill Hike

Moderate
5.0 km
225 m
1.5-2h

Tumamoc Hill is one of the most popular hikes in Tucson thanks to its great city views, relatively short length, and night hiking opportunities. The route is paved, which is a plus for hikers who prefer or require even footing. Because Tumamoc Hill is on university property, it’s the only hike in the Tucson Mountain Range that is open for night hiking. If you want to watch the sunset or sunrise, this is the place to be!

The route is 3.1 mi long, but some hikers turn around at the midpoint instead of going the entire way. Expect a 5 ft paved route with plenty of signage. Some parts of the trail are steep, which could make using a stroller or wheelchair very difficult without some assistance. Overall we rate this trail as moderately difficult. If you come in hot weather, please ensure you’ve got lots of hydration and some sun protection with you.

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Open details for Tanque Verde Falls Trail

Tanque Verde Falls Trail

Moderate
3.1 km
141 m
1-1.5h

Tanque Verde Falls Trail is a popular hike near Tucson that climbs up the Tanque Verde Wash to an 80-foot waterfall. Along the way, you can take advantage of other small waterfalls and swimming holes. Most of this trail is quite easy and kid-friendly. Near the end, there’s some climbing over boulders required to reach the waterfall directly. Those unable to climb or those with young kids can skip the end of the hike in favor of a picnic at one of the smaller pools on the way.

As with all hikes in the Arizona desert, some months of the year may be too hot to safely adventure outside. Bring plenty of water, wear sunscreen, and head home if you start to feel unwell or overheated. Starting early in the day can help you finish your hike before the heat of the day. Finally, avoid this hike if there’s a flash flood warning or heavy rain in the forecast.

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Open details for Bear Canyon to Seven Falls Trail

Bear Canyon to Seven Falls Trail

Moderate
13.4 km
309 m
3-4.5h

Bear Canyon to Seven Falls Trail is a real gem. This 8.3 mi moderately difficult trail is located at the base of Thimble Peak in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness on the northeast edge of Tucson. It’s excellent for its ease of access from the city and for its diverse, beautiful terrain. You’ll hike next to towering saguaros and prickly pears, witness the area’s astounding bird population fly by, and end your hike at the Broadmoor Seven Falls. At the falls, there is a series of gorgeous pools that can be used to cool off.

This canyon can reach scorching temperatures in the middle of the day. Start your hike early, bring plenty of water, and avoid hiking this route in the summertime if at all possible. Since this is such a popular hike, midweek visits are recommended if possible.

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Open details for Sweetwater Wetlands Loop

Sweetwater Wetlands Loop

Very Easy
1.6 km
2 m
0.5h

The Sweetwater Wetlands Loop leads you a short distance around one of the most important functional, environmental, and educational sites of the City of Tucson’s reclaimed water system. The Sweetwater Wetlands were constructed in 1996 to handle backwash water from the reclaimed water plant. Now, the site is a wetland that exclusively uses reclaimed water. The entire wetland has 2.5 mi of trails, but this loop covers a quick 1.0 mi section. Around 1,000 ft of the wetland pathways are paved and ADA-approved for wheelchair users.

This quick little nature walk is suitable for all ages and all skill levels. It’s flat, either paved or on 3.4-inch gravel, and easy to navigate. Note that dogs, horses, and bikes are not allowed in this area.

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Open details for Sabino Tram Road

Sabino Tram Road

Easy
11.9 km
224 m
2.5-4h

The Sabino Tram Road through the Sabino Canyon is a stellar hike. This 7.4 mi moderately difficult trail is located on the north side of Saddleback and Thimble Peak in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness on the northeast edge of Tucson. This hike is excellent for its ease of access from the city and for its diverse, beautiful terrain. You’ll hike next to towering saguaros and prickly pears, witness the area’s astounding bird population fly by, and be able to appreciate the scenic canyon.

This canyon can reach scorching temperatures in the middle of the day. Start your hike early, bring plenty of water, and avoid hiking this route in the summertime if at all possible. Since this is such a popular hike, midweek visits are recommended if possible.

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Open details for Sentinel Peak Hike

Sentinel Peak Hike

Easy
2.7 km
84 m
0.5-1h

The Sentinel Peak hike near Tucson is a quick win, offering panoramic views of Tucson and the surrounding mountains on an easy 1.7 mi loop. This hike is ideal if you want a quick leg-stretcher, are taking the kids out, or if you want some time outside but can’t go far or be gone for too long. The elevation gain is mostly gentle and the route is paved and easy to follow.

Sentinel Peak is a prominent landmark. It’s also known as “A” Mountain for its University of Arizona logo on the mountain, which was built by students in 1916. Most days, the mountain sees hundreds of hikers and bikers making their way up the road that encircles the mountain’s peak.

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Open details for Blackett’s Ridge Trail from Bear Canyon

Blackett’s Ridge Trail from Bear Canyon

Hard
10.5 km
593 m
3.5-5h

Blackett's Ridge Trail from Bear Canyon is an awesome adventure. This 6.5 mi difficult trail climbs up Saddleback in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness on the northeast edge of Tucson. This hike is excellent for its ease of access from the city and for its diverse, beautiful terrain. The city views and desert views are both excellent, and the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area is always a treat.

This ridge can reach scorching temperatures in the middle of the day. Start your hike early, bring plenty of water, and avoid hiking this route in the summertime if at all possible. Note that there are occasional closures on this route for bighorn sheep lambing season.

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Open details for Blackett’s Ridge Trail

Blackett’s Ridge Trail

Hard
9.2 km
542 m
3-4.5h

Blackett's Ridge Trail is an excellent adventure near Tucson. This 5.7 mi difficult trail climbs up Saddleback in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness on the northeast edge of Tucson. This hike is excellent for its ease of access from the city and for its diverse, interesting terrain. This version of the hike begins from the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. You can also do Blackett’s Ridge Trail from Bear Canyon if you want to skip the paid parking and add a little bit of distance.

This ridge can reach scorching temperatures in the middle of the day. Start your hike early, bring plenty of water, and avoid hiking this route in the summertime if at all possible. Note that there are occasional closures on this route for bighorn sheep lambing season.

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Open details for Hutch’s Pool Hike

Hutch’s Pool Hike

Moderate
24.6 km
573 m
6-8.5h

Hutch's Pool is a popular spot tucked away in the Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson. The route there travels through the Sabino Canyon in the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, known for its rugged desert beauty and plentiful wildlife. This is a rewarding trip that ends at a great swimming hole. While it can be done in a day, we recommend splitting this one up over two days and spending a night on the trail. If you plan to do it in a day, get a very early start and don’t hike in the scorching summertime.

You’ll be able to filter water from the river, but water levels vary depending on the time of year you choose to visit. Bring plenty of hydration with you and wear sun protection.

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Open details for Hutch’s Pool via West Fork Sabino Trail

Hutch’s Pool via West Fork Sabino Trail

Moderate
12.7 km
350 m
3-4.5h

Hutch's Pool is a popular swimming and camping spot tucked away in the Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson. The usual route there travels through the Sabino Canyon in the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, known for its rugged desert beauty and plentiful wildlife. This guide details the hike to Hutch’s Pool starting and ending at the West fork Sabino Trail. We recommend using this route if you’re taking the tram through the Sabino Canyon or already out on West Fork Sabino Trail. If you’re not taking the tram and need guidance from the recreation area, check out our Hutch’s Pool Hike guide.

This is a rewarding trip that ends at a great swimming hole. You’ll be able to filter water from the river, but water levels vary depending on the time of year you choose to visit. Bring plenty of hydration with you and wear sun protection.

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