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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 61 to 80 of 119
      Open details for Wildhorse Trail

      Wildhorse Trail

      Moderate
      5.0 km
      92 m
      1-1.5h

      Wildhorse Trail is a 5.0 km hike in Saguaro National Park East. This hike begins on the northern border of the park and heads due south, ending at the mouth of a canyon. Our route ends partway through the full Wildhorse Trail, so adventurous hikers can choose to go further if they’d like. 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 Explorer Trail

      Explorer Trail

      Moderate
      9.0 km
      219 m
      2-3h

      Explorer Trail is a 9.0 km hike in Tucson Mountain Park. This hike is rated as moderate, and we consider it to be family-friendly. The route leads to Cat Mountain from the Sarasota Trailhead and back, but you’ll hike along the base of the mountain instead of climbing it, making the journey a bit more laid-back. The route is easy to follow and the views are great. Dogs are not permitted on this trail.

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      Open details for Sabino Lake Loop

      Sabino Lake Loop

      Very Easy
      3.7 km
      44 m
      1h

      The Sabino Lake Loop is a 3.2 km hike through the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, which is known for its natural beauty and biodiversity. This heavily trafficked easy trail explores the area above the wash and lake 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 and witness the area’s astounding bird population fly by.

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      Open details for Soldier Trail

      Soldier Trail

      Hard
      8.5 km
      591 m
      3-4.5h

      Soldier Trail is a tough 8.5 km hike in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness known for the waterfalls on the route. With an interesting gorge and great views to see in addition to the falls, this is a winner in our books. This hike is also unique in that you’ll do most of the work in the first half and enjoy a more relaxed latter half of your ascent. If you can get through the start, you’re golden. Expect moderate traffic on this route.

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      Open details for Mica View, Cholla, and Cactus Forest Loop

      Mica View, Cholla, and Cactus Forest Loop

      Easy
      6.0 km
      37 m
      1-1.5h

      The Mica View, Cholla, and Cactus Forest Loop is a 9.0 km easy hike in Saguaro National Park East in Tucson. This hike is ideal for beginners, families, and hikers seeking a relaxed stroll in nature. You’ll have the mountain and desert views that the park is known for on a route that’s gently undulating and easy to follow. Expect heavy traffic on parts of this trail.

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      Open details for Camaro Loop

      Camaro Loop

      Very Easy
      3.9 km
      39 m
      1h

      The Camaro Loop is an easy hiking and mountain biking route in the south end of Tucson Mountain Park. This trail is less than two and a half miles long and has almost no elevation gain required. It’s a great pick for a casual nature walk, and we love all the cactus lining the trail. Dogs are allowed to join you on this hike as long as they’re on a leash. Expect moderate traffic.

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      Open details for Agua Caliente Loop

      Agua Caliente Loop

      Moderate
      9.7 km
      420 m
      3-4h

      The Agua Caliente Loop is an awesome hike in the Tucson area with canyon views and a sense of rugged adventure to be found. This route is nestled between the Pusch Ridge Wilderness and Saguaro National Park East, so the scenery pulls together the best of both areas. Note that this is different from the Agua Caliente Hill Trail, which is in the same area but longer and more challenging. Expect 9.7 km of moderately difficult hiking on this loop.

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      Open details for Thunderbird Trail

      Thunderbird Trail

      Moderate
      6.4 km
      150 m
      1.5-2h

      The Thunderbird Trail explores the eastern side of Saguaro National Park West, one of Tucson’s most popular hiking regions. This trail is moderately difficult with some loose rock to navigate, so it makes for a fun hike for strong beginners and active families. There are washes along the way that may or may not give you the chance to dip your feet depending on recent rains, but no matter the season, you’ll be able to appreciate big saguaros and desert wildlife.

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      Open details for Seven Falls and Phoneline Loop

      Seven Falls and Phoneline Loop

      Hard
      26.4 km
      887 m
      7-10h

      The Seven Falls and Phoneline Loop leads you through the Sabino Canyon and Bear Canyon, known for their natural beauty and biodiversity. This full-day difficult Loop shows off some of the best canyon scenery in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness on the northeast edge of Tucson. You’ll hike next to towering saguaros and prickly pears, see countless species of birds, and be able to appreciate the scenic canyons.

      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.

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      Open details for King Canyon Petroglyph Hike

      King Canyon Petroglyph Hike

      Moderate
      3.5 km
      89 m
      1h

      The King Canyon Petroglyph Hike is an easy, heavily trafficked trail in Saguaro National Park West near Tucson. On this route, you’ll hike through a collection of prickly pear, ocotillo, and saguaros en route to petroglyphs. This is a very rewarding hike that’s generally suitable for active kids and strong beginners. If you’re having trouble locating the petroglyphs, look for a park ranger to point them out to you.

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      Open details for Phoneline Short Loop

      Phoneline Short Loop

      Moderate
      6.8 km
      184 m
      1.5-2.5h

      The Phoneline Short Loop is an excellent way to spend time in the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area without taking on the more challenging hikes into the three canyons of the park. This loop takes you past Sabino Lake and near the mouth of Sabino Canyon. Use this as a family-friendly adventure or as a warm-up for other adventures in the park. Expect moderate traffic.

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      Open details for Wilderness of Rocks Trail

      Wilderness of Rocks Trail

      Very Hard
      24.9 km
      1,338 m
      8-11.5h

      The Wilderness of Rocks Trail is a rugged, adventurous trail near Summerhaven that intrepid, strong hikers will love. This route climbs down past rivers and pools in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness, then climbs up, up, up all the way back to the trailhead. It’s a full-day adventure with all the challenges on the return trip, so it’s best for fit hikers. Expect light traffic.

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      Open details for Ventana and Esperero Trail

      Ventana and Esperero Trail

      Very Hard
      21.4 km
      1,405 m
      7.5-10.5h

      The Ventana and Esperero Trail is a point-to-point hike in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness that climbs up to Window Peak and back down via Mount Miguel. It’s a demanding route that’s best suited for strong hikers. Since this is a point-to-point route, we recommend a shuttle. If you don't have a shuttle, you can hike to Window Peak and back as an out-and-back trip. Bring lots of water and do this one in the cooler months! Expect moderate traffic.

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      Open details for Sendero Esperanza Trail

      Sendero Esperanza Trail

      Moderate
      8.0 km
      317 m
      2.5-3h

      The Sendero Esperanza Trail leads you up a ridge to an excellent viewpoint in Tucson’s Saguaro National Park West. This is a moderately difficult route that should be suitable for strong beginners and better. It’s mostly relaxed until the final climb up the ridge, where you can look out over Amole Peak, the Red Hills, and more. Expect moderate traffic on this hike and come prepared for the area’s hot weather.

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      Open details for Rock Wren, Yetman, and Starr Pass Loop

      Rock Wren, Yetman, and Starr Pass Loop

      Moderate
      7.7 km
      112 m
      1.5-2.5h

      The Rock Wren, Yetman, and Starr Pass Loop leads you through the eastern side of Tucson Mountain Park, offering a lovely adventure in nature over 7.6 km of moderately difficult trail. This route is well marked and offers the chance to see some local wildlife. 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 and watch for mountain bikers.

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      Open details for Ridge View Trail

      Ridge View Trail

      Moderate
      4.2 km
      114 m
      1-1.5h

      The Ridge View Trail is a perfect route for those days when you want to get outside, get away from the crowds, and feel far away from the city. This is an easy-moderate hike that doesn’t tend to get too busy and the elevation changes are nice and gradual, so we recommend it for most skill levels and ages. This route sees mixed traffic, with hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders all taking advantage of its scenery.

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      Open details for Black Rock Loop Trail

      Black Rock Loop Trail

      Easy
      7.4 km
      83 m
      1.5-2h

      As much as rugged adventures can be fun, sometimes an easy breezy trail with great marking and maintenance is the way to go. The Black Rock Loop Trail travels through the panhandle of Sweetwater Preserve, and is ideal for hikers who want to go on autopilot and just enjoy the view. This is an easy trail and it’s perfect for families or solo hikers who want a reliable, simple trail. Expect heavy traffic.

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      Open details for Recoil Peak via Mosaic Trail

      Recoil Peak via Mosaic Trail

      Easy
      4.2 km
      90 m
      1-1.5h

      Sometimes an easy viewpoint is all you want, and the hike to Recoil Peak on Mosaic Trail gives you a nice vantage point on a quick, easy trail. 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 Bittersweet, Camaro, and Sunset Pass Loop

      Bittersweet, Camaro, and Sunset Pass Loop

      Moderate
      6.3 km
      116 m
      1.5-2h

      The Bittersweet, Camaro, and Sunset Pass Loop is a moderately difficult 6.4 km hiking and mountain biking route in the south end of Tucson Mountain Park. This trail is a great pick for a casual nature walk, and we love all the cactus beside the trail. This route isn’t well-marked at the beginning, so bring a map or GPS route for reference. Expect heavy traffic.

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      Open details for Desperado Loop

      Desperado Loop

      Easy
      6.4 km
      81 m
      1.5-2h

      When it comes to relaxing, easy trails, the Desperado Loop is one we consider a bit of a hidden gem. This loop is very laid-back, but it’s more scenic than you may expect. Used by hikers of all ages and skill levels as well as beginner mountain bikers, it makes for a lovely day out in nature with no challenges to consider. The route-finding is very easy and you can lengthen or shorten your hike using the connecting trails. Expect heavy traffic on this trail.

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