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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.

    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

    Showing 41 to 60 of 119
      Open details for Agua Caliente Hill Trail

      Agua Caliente Hill Trail

      Hard
      14.2 km
      855 m
      5-7h

      Agua Caliente Hill Trail is a great hike in the Tucson area. This route is nestled between the Pusch Ridge Wilderness and Saguaro National Park East, so the scenery pulls together the best of both areas. As one of the relatively few dog-friendly trails in the Tucson area, this hike is a favourite with local dog owners. Expect 14.2 km of difficult trail, with the difficulty increasing as you near the end of the route.

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      Open details for Signal Hill Trail

      Signal Hill Trail

      Very Easy
      0.5 km
      8 m
      0.5h

      If you’re spending some time out with family, a picnic and the short hike on Signal Hill Trail in the Saguaro Wilderness of Saguaro National Park West is a perfect low-key adventure. This trail is only really a few steps long, but it leads you to a scenic viewpoint and allows you to appreciate petroglyphs left in the area. We recommend pairing this with a picnic at the Signal Hill Picnic Area to make an afternoon out of it.

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      Open details for Catalina Nature Trail

      Catalina Nature Trail

      Very Easy
      1.6 km
      31 m
      0.5h

      The Catalina Nature Trail is a laidback adventure in Tucson’s popular Catalina State Park. This trail heads up into the hills of the park, which are absolutely covered in saguaros. It’s a quick win that offers nice views for very little distance and elevation gain. Keep your eyes peeled and you can spot roadrunners, lizards, and many species of birds. This is a nice trail to pair with a picnic in the state park, especially since it’s a short hike and you’ll need to pay a small entrance fee to use the park.

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      Open details for Sutherland Wash Petroglyphs Hike

      Sutherland Wash Petroglyphs Hike

      Moderate
      6.0 km
      133 m
      1.5-2h

      The Sutherland Wash Petroglyphs hike mixes history of days past with present-day natural appeal in Tucson’s popular Catalina State Park. This trail begins just outside of the park and wanders through and then back out of the northeastern corner to a petroglyph site. This trail can get a bit overgrown after heavy monsoon seasons, so if you’re here after a lot of rain, long pants and even a machete may be helpful. Having a downloaded route is helpful to locate the petroglyphs at the end of the trail.

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      Open details for Sutherland Trail

      Sutherland Trail

      Very Hard
      28.0 km
      1,731 m
      9.5-13.5h

      The Sutherland Trail is one of the longer trails in Tucson, so this is a great pick for stronger hikers who want a very full day of adventure. This route begins in Catalina State Park and heads northeast to the base of Mount Lemmon and back over 28.0 km. It’s a hard hike with rocky terrain, but it’s a treat when the ocotillos are in bloom. You can also choose to hike a shorter section of the Sutherland Trail if you’d prefer. Bring plenty of water and food for this one.

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      Open details for Douglas Spring, Converse, and Wildhorse Loop

      Douglas Spring, Converse, and Wildhorse Loop

      Easy
      5.5 km
      56 m
      1-1.5h

      The Douglas Spring, Converse, and Wildhorse Loop is a 5.5 km hike in Saguaro National Park East. This route is a nice option for hikers who want to enjoy a fairly quick trip into the park, but it also offers the chance to customize your adventure by using the connecting trails to lengthen or shorten it. Keep in mind that there is a small fee required to use the trails in the park, and dogs are not permitted.

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      Open details for Pontatoc Canyon Trail

      Pontatoc Canyon Trail

      Hard
      9.3 km
      680 m
      3.5-5h

      The Pontatoc Canyon Trail is one of several canyon trails in the gorgeous Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. Pontatoc Canyon sees fewer hikers than the more well-known Sabino and Bear Canyons, but the scenery is definitely still worth the hike. This route is 9.3 km long and rated as hard. As with all the hikes in this area, bring lots of water and avoid hiking in the heat of the day. It gets hot in here!

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      Open details for David Yetman Trail

      David Yetman Trail

      Moderate
      19.2 km
      405 m
      4.5-6.5h

      The David Yetman Trail is a 19.3 km route in Tucson Mountain Park named for social scientist and host of “The Desert Speaks,” Dr. David Yetman. This route leads to the Bowen House, a long-abandoned stone home. While there are more direct routes to the Bowen House, this approach allows you to appreciate the entire David Yetman Trail with its views of Golden Gate Mountain. Bring lots of water and try to get your hike in before the heat of the day hits.

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      Open details for Molino Basin via Arizona Trail

      Molino Basin via Arizona Trail

      Moderate
      3.2 km
      171 m
      1-1.5h

      If you’re staying at the Molino Basin Campground, the hike to Molino Basin via Arizona Trail is an awesome hike to a memorable viewpoint that should only take a couple of hours or so. This hike is rated as moderate, and it follows the Arizona Trail to a saddle with a view into the basin and to the mountains beyond. Enjoy small waterfalls and a bit of shade on this hike.

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      Open details for Molino Basin Trail

      Molino Basin Trail

      Moderate
      8.0 km
      238 m
      2-3h

      Should you be hiking or backpacking in the Molino Basin Campground, the Molino Basin Trail can connect you to the Gordon Hirabayashi Campground. This route acts mostly as a thoroughfare for hikers bound for the viewpoint at Molino Basin on the Arizona Trail, but it can be useful whether you're coming or going in either direction. This is a moderate route that allows dogs on leash.

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      Open details for Wildflower Ridge, Oxbow, and Desperado Loop

      Wildflower Ridge, Oxbow, and Desperado Loop

      Very Easy
      3.2 km
      41 m
      0.5-1h

      The Wildflower Ridge, Oxbow, and Desperado Loop is a moderately trafficked hike in Tucson’s Sweetwater Preserve. This route is rated as easy and is very family-friendly. The scenery features wildflowers (in the right season) and saguaros and the route is even and offers nice footing for most of the route. The path is easy to follow and it makes for a pleasant early morning or evening walk.

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      Open details for Douglas Spring Trail

      Douglas Spring Trail

      Moderate
      26.7 km
      1,140 m
      8-11h

      The Douglas Spring Trail is a 26.7 km hike in Saguaro National Park East. The full distance of the Douglas Spring Trail as reflected in this guide is a big trek that’s best suited to strong hikers. This route is also used by horseback riders. If you want to spend a full, beautiful day in Saguaro National Park East, this is an excellent way to immerse yourself in the saguaros and the mountain views. Keep in mind that there is a small fee required to use the trails in the park, and dogs are not permitted.

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      Open details for Monsoon Loop via Mosaic Trail

      Monsoon Loop via Mosaic Trail

      Easy
      5.0 km
      101 m
      1-1.5h

      As far as beginner hikes in the city go, the Monsoon Loop via Mosaic Trail is a solid pick. This hike is very easy to get to in Tucson and it’s long enough to take in the scenery while being easy enough for all ages and skill levels. There are also connecting trails that make it easy to extend your hike if you want more. This route gets hot in the afternoon, so try it as a morning or evening adventure and bring lots of water.

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      Open details for Rock Wren and Starr Pass Hike

      Rock Wren and Starr Pass Hike

      Moderate
      15.4 km
      252 m
      3.5-5h

      The Rock Wren and Starr Pass Hike is an enjoyable jaunt from one side of Tucson Mountain Park to the other, offering a 15.4 km journey through nature. This trail is rated as moderately difficult. This hike 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. Note that this is a longer out and back hike that is similar to but different from the Starr Pass and Rock Wren Loop. Wear sturdy boots for this rocky trail.

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      Open details for Leopold Point via Incinerator Ridge Trail

      Leopold Point via Incinerator Ridge Trail

      Moderate
      3.5 km
      247 m
      1.5-2h

      Beginning from the scenic San Pedro Vista and climbing a ridge past Barnum Rock to Leopold Point, Incinerator Ridge Trail is a stunning hike and one of our go-to's for quickly accessible views outside of Tucson. This route makes you feel like you’re getting away from the city, but it’s short enough that you can complete it in the morning and then go about your day. The balance of effort and reward is right where it should be.

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      Open details for Painted Hills Loop

      Painted Hills Loop

      Easy
      6.0 km
      105 m
      1.5-2h

      If you’re looking for a relaxed beginner hike that you don’t need to venture far for, the Painted Hills Loop could be the perfect one. This hike is very easy to get to from Tucson and it’s long enough to take in the scenery while being easy enough for all ages and skill levels. There are several connecting trails in this area that make it simple to extend your hike if you want more. The Painted Hills Loop gets hot in the afternoon, so try it as a morning or evening adventure and bring lots of water.

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      Open details for Hope Camp Hike

      Hope Camp Hike

      Moderate
      10.5 km
      161 m
      2.5-3h

      The Hope Camp Hike is a trip along a dirt road with good scenery and no major challenges to consider. While this might feel more like a casual walk to more experienced hikers, it’s a great way to get outside for new hikers and families. The footing is very even and the trail is easy to follow. Keep an eye out for mixed traffic as there could be bikers on the road with you. Expect moderate traffic on this hike.

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      Open details for Gates Pass to Golden Gate Loop

      Gates Pass to Golden Gate Loop

      Moderate
      15.3 km
      213 m
      3.5-4.5h

      The Gates Pass to Golden Gate Loop leads you through Tucson Mountain Park, showing off Golden Gate Mountain and providing access to Gilbert Ray Campground. This route is mostly flat with only light climbing dispersed throughout, so beginners and active families will likely be able to take advantage of the entire trail. Hike with care out here as rattlesnake sightings have been reported by users. Dogs are not permitted on this trail.

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      Open details for 50 Year Trail

      50 Year Trail

      Moderate
      9.5 km
      97 m
      2-2.5h

      If a casual, meandering desert walk sounds like the right adventure for you, head up to the 50 Year Trail north of Tucson. This route is used by hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders alike. It’s a mostly flat trail, making it suitable for all ages and skill levels. Those who prefer big views and a physical challenge will likely prefer other trails, but keep this one in mind for a casual nature walk. Expect moderate traffic.

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      Open details for Mint Spring Trail

      Mint Spring Trail

      Easy
      5.5 km
      184 m
      1.5-2h

      Mint Spring Trail is a 5.5 km hike near Summerhaven. This route is easy, with only a bit of climbing required. This route is interesting for its variety of plant life, especially when it comes alive after rain. Passing through burn zones, you can watch the desert recover and regrow throughout the years on this trail. The view of Summerhaven and the valley from the top of this hike is a nice reward for your work. Expect moderate traffic.

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