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    Tucson

    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 305 m 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 2.7 km 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.

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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

    Showing 21 to 40 of 119
      Open details for Wasson Peak via King Canyon Trail

      Wasson Peak via King Canyon Trail

      Moderate
      10.8 km
      559 m
      3.5-5h

      Wasson Peak via King Canyon Trail is a 10.8 km heavily trafficked moderate trail in Saguaro National Park West near Tucson. Starting out on King Canyon Trail, you’ll hike through a collection of prickly pear, ocotillo, and saguaros up Wasson Peak for a fantastic view of the surrounding park. You can make a quick side trip on King Canyon Trail to see a tall stone structure and petroglyphs. This is a very rewarding hike that’s generally suitable for active kids and strong beginners.

      This hike can get very hot up to the peak, which can be windy and cool. We suggest wearing layers and sun protection to adapt to the changing temperatures.

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      Open details for Linda Vista Loop Trail

      Linda Vista Loop Trail

      Easy
      3.5 km
      130 m
      1-1.5h

      The Linda Vista Loop Trail is a 3.5 km heavily trafficked easy trail in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness. This route is very quick and simple to reach from Oro Valley and northeastern Tucson and it provides an awesome break in nature without demanding too much effort. We consider this route easy enough for beginners and hikers of most ages. The terrain is varied and interesting with a few great photo ops along the way. The views of the city and of the Tortolitas, in particular, are quite impressive.

      As with all hikes in this area, we recommend bringing lots of water, wearing sun protection, and hiking before the heat of the day hits.

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      Open details for Phoneline Trail

      Phoneline Trail

      Moderate
      15.1 km
      437 m
      4-5.5h

      The Phoneline Trail leads you through the Sabino Canyon, known for its natural beauty and biodiversity. This 15.1 km 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. You can also opt to hop on the tram on your return trip to shorten this route if it’s longer than you’d prefer.

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      Open details for Sabino Lake, Creek Trail, and Rattlesnake Loop

      Sabino Lake, Creek Trail, and Rattlesnake Loop

      Moderate
      6.1 km
      83 m
      1.5-2h

      The Sabino Lake, Creek Trail, and Rattlesnake Loop is a 6.1 km hike through the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, which is known for its natural beauty and biodiversity. This 6.1 km moderately difficult trail meanders across the rivers and streams at the mouth of the Sabino Canyon. 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 dip your feet in the water as you go.

      This area 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.

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      Open details for Pima Canyon Trail

      Pima Canyon Trail

      Moderate
      16.3 km
      1,018 m
      5.5-8h

      The Pima Canyon Trail is a 16.3 km hike in the Coronado National Forest near Tucson that is rated as moderate. This route leads you through a canyon with impressive riparian habitats and rich biodiversity. Hiking in a canyon underneath the Pusch Ridge, the views get better and better as you climb. Since this hike sees so much traffic through such a sensitive natural area, please remember to leave no trace. Stay on the marked trails, take your trash with you, leave dogs at home, and appreciate wildlife from afar.

      While this route is rated as moderate for its dispersed elevation gain, it is a long hike. Come prepared with water, food, sun protection, and GPS navigation.

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      Open details for Big Wash Trail

      Big Wash Trail

      Very Easy
      3.9 km
      22 m
      1h

      Big Wash Trail is a 3.9 km easy trail in Tucson that can be used for mountain biking and hiking. This route is beginner-friendly with almost no elevation gain required. It’s scenic and easy to get to from the north end of the city. While the route is easy, you’ll want to wear good footwear to deal with the sandy and rocky footing. Dogs are allowed on this route but we recommend keeping them on a leash due to the mixed nature of the traffic on this route.

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      Open details for Hidden Canyon Bowen Loop

      Hidden Canyon Bowen Loop

      Easy
      3.2 km
      108 m
      1-1.5h

      The Hidden Canyon Bowen Loop is a 3.2 km trail in Tucson. This route travels through a saguaro forest, offering beautiful desert views without even leaving the city. It’s a great route for beginners thanks to its easy-to-moderate elevation profile, but we recommend it for more experienced hikers too for its ease of access and nice scenery. We do recommend downloading a GPS track ahead of time as the trail can be easy to lose. Dogs are not allowed on this trail.

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      Open details for Honeybee Canyon North Trail

      Honeybee Canyon North Trail

      Very Easy
      3.7 km
      35 m
      1h

      The Honeybee Canyon North Trail is a great little hike that we recommend for a few reasons. This route is less than 3.2 km long and mostly flat, making it suitable for families and hikers of all skill levels. The route is partially paved but the footing remains stable throughout. It’s a perfect sunset hike and the saguaros and mountains in view make for a memorable scene. Most of all, we love that you can check out well-preserved petroglyphs on a rock face near the end of this trail.

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      Open details for Honeybee Canyon South Trail

      Honeybee Canyon South Trail

      Very Easy
      1.9 km
      53 m
      0.5h

      The Honeybee Canyon South Trail is a relaxed loop trail in Tucson that’s known for its pleasant desert views and easygoing elevation gain. It’s also known for being easy to lose, so definitely come armed with a downloaded GPS track! This route does not reach the petroglyphs that the Honeybee Canyon North Trail just across the road does, but it does provide its own appeal. This route is suitable for all skill levels and dogs are permitted as long as they’re kept on leash.

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      Open details for Cactus Forest Trail

      Cactus Forest Trail

      Moderate
      16.1 km
      156 m
      3.5-4.5h

      If you’re on the hunt for quintessential Sonoran Desert scenery, the Cactus Forest Trail is the one. This 16.1 km hike is everything you’d want to see if you were looking for a classic desert hike, with countless towering saguaros and the mountains of Saguaro National Forest East in the distance. It’s a longer hike but it’s relatively flat and the footing is even and not rocky. This trail can get extremely hot, so avoid it in the summer months and bring more water than you think you may need.

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      Open details for Finger Rock Short Route

      Finger Rock Short Route

      Moderate
      4.7 km
      293 m
      1.5-2.5h

      Finger Rock is a well-known rock formation in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness near Tucson. The Finger Rock Short Route is a 4.7 km moderately-challenging route that leads you to a viewpoint of the rock. It’s the fastest way to the formation, so we recommend this route if you want the photo op without having to hike too far. This area does not allow dogs. Make sure to bring lots of water with you.

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      Open details for Wasson Peak via Sweetwater Trail

      Wasson Peak via Sweetwater Trail

      Hard
      15.0 km
      638 m
      4.5-6h

      Wasson Peak via Sweetwater Trail is a 14.5 km lightly-trafficked and challenging route in Saguaro National Park West near Tucson. While most hikers bound for Wasson Peak choose the approach on King Canyon Trail, this route is much quieter. You’ll hike through a collection of prickly pear, ocotillo, and saguaros for a fantastic view of the surrounding park. This hike can get very hot up to the peak, which can be windy and cool. We suggest wearing layers and sun protection to adapt to the changing temperatures.

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      Open details for Butterfly and Sunset Trail

      Butterfly and Sunset Trail

      Hard
      11.7 km
      670 m
      4-5.5h

      If you’re the kind of hiker who doesn’t mind a bit of overgrowth, the Butterfly and Sunset Trail is a fun trail to add to your list. This route might require a bit of bushwhacking and a tiring climb out of a canyon, but you won’t need to share it with many and the views are great. The loop takes you up and over the peak of Westfall Knob and Mount Bigelow all in one go. Come prepared with lots of hydration and good boots for this one.

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      Open details for Window Peak via Ventana Canyon Trail

      Window Peak via Ventana Canyon Trail

      Very Hard
      23.3 km
      1,408 m
      8-11h

      The hike to Window Peak on Ventana Canyon Trail is what some users call a “sufferfest,” so keep reading if you’re a hiker in the Tucson area who really wants to challenge themselves. This 23.3 km trail is very demanding with unrelenting elevation gain and exposure to the elements. For those who can complete it, the views from Window Peak stretch 360 degrees over the Pusch Ridge Wilderness and Tucson. Come prepared for this route!

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      Open details for Babat Duag Trail

      Babat Duag Trail

      Moderate
      8.4 km
      367 m
      2.5-3.5h

      Babat Duag Trail is a scenic hike near Tucson. This route is 8.4 km long and gives you a great sightline into nearby Saguaro National Park East from the top. It’s usually enjoyable for strong beginners and active families, but it’s a nice fast hike for stronger users, too. This is also one of the relatively few hikes in the Tucson area that allows dogs on leash, so pet owners should give it a try. Bring plenty of water!

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      Open details for Starr Pass and Rock Wren Loop

      Starr Pass and Rock Wren Loop

      Moderate
      11.7 km
      244 m
      2.5-4h

      The Starr Pass and Rock Wren Loop leads you through the eastern side of Tucson Mountain Park, offering a nice break in nature over 11.6 km of moderately difficult trail. This route is well marked and offers the chance to see some local wildlife (including coyotes, so remember that dogs are not permitted on this trail). The route also connects to a wider range of trails, so you could easily extend to personalize your adventure if you wanted to. Wear sturdy boots for this rocky trail.

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      Open details for Milagrosa Canyon Trail

      Milagrosa Canyon Trail

      Moderate
      16.3 km
      573 m
      4.5-6.5h

      The Milagrosa Canyon Trail in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness is a 16.1 km hike that stretches through a canyon in the south end of the park. This route doesn’t tend to get too busy, but it’s shared by mountain bikers and hikers. While we like this hike, we have to recommend that you do it in the cooler months and early in the morning as it can get very, very hot on the trail. Bring plenty of water.

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      Open details for Bowen House via Camino de Oeste

      Bowen House via Camino de Oeste

      Very Easy
      4.2 km
      43 m
      1h

      The Bowen House is a long-abandoned stone home built in what now is Tucson Mountain Park. You can check out this relic of the past using Yetman Trail from Camino de Oeste, which is a 4.2 km hike that we rate as easy. This is a fun outing for families and we love a picnic stop at the house. There are also caves on the trail further on from the house should you want a bit more of an adventure. This route is lowkey and great for all skill levels. Bring lots of water on your hike.

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      Open details for Bowen Trail

      Bowen Trail

      Very Easy
      2.4 km
      36 m
      0.5h

      The Bowen House is a long-abandoned stone home built in what now is Tucson Mountain Park. The most direct path to the house is Bowen Trail, which is a 2.4 km hike. This route is easy, mostly flat, and very quick to complete. This is a fun outing for families and we love a picnic stop at the house. There are also caves on the trail further on from the house should you want a bit more of an adventure. Bring lots of water on your hike.

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      Open details for Rillito River Path: North Swan to North Dodge

      Rillito River Path: North Swan to North Dodge

      Very Easy
      4.5 km
      9 m
      1h

      We can all appreciate an easily accessible nature walk right in our own cities, and the Rillito River Path is a wonderful trail that follows the flowing river through Tucson. This guide details the portion of the path from North Swan Road to North Dodge Boulevard, but you can go as far as you like on this multi-use pathway. This path is paved, so strollers and bikes are welcome. Dogs are also welcome on leash. Remember to share the trail with the mixed nature of traffic that uses it.

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