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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 81 to 100 of 119
      Open details for Jack and George Mountain Trail

      Jack and George Mountain Trail

      Moderate
      1.9 km
      126 m
      0.5-1h

      Jack and George Mountain Trail is a quick hike in Tucson, but even though it’s short, it has enough elevation gain to get your legs working. It’s a great pick for early birds who want a pre-work workout or for those days when you want some fresh air but are short on time. This route isn’t marked, though, so make sure you have a map or GPS track on hand. Keep an eye out for deer and enjoy being able to hike without leaving the city limits. Expect light traffic.

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      Open details for Catalina Birding Loop

      Catalina Birding Loop

      Very Easy
      2.1 km
      22 m
      0.5h

      The Catalina Birding Loop is an excellent route for visitors to Catalina State Park who fancy themselves birders, but by no means is it limited to bird enthusiasts. This trail is short and sweet, with lots of nice photo ops and the chance to spot an impressive variety of bird species. It’s family-friendly and an easy addition to your other adventures in the park. Expect moderate traffic on this hike.

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      Open details for Romero Ruins Hike

      Romero Ruins Hike

      Very Easy
      1.0 km
      21 m
      0.5h

      The Romero Ruins are the remnants of a prehistoric walled city, and you can check them out on a very short trail in Tucson’s Catalina State Park. There are informative signs near the ruins that educate you about their history, and the trail to the ruins boasts impressively large saguaros. All in all, this is a fascinating hike that’s easy enough for all ages and skill levels.

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      Open details for Maiden Pools Hike

      Maiden Pools Hike

      Hard
      9.0 km
      418 m
      2.5-4h

      The hike to the Maiden Pools is a bit of a lesser-known gem in Tucson. This challenging trail climbs a saguaro-studded canyon in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness for dramatic views. When the water is flowing, you’ll be following a trickling river to a set of pools, some too deep to see the bottom of and some shallow enough to cool off in. This route requires some light scrambling. Expect moderate to heavy traffic.

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      Open details for Gould Mine Hike

      Gould Mine Hike

      Moderate
      3.7 km
      116 m
      1-1.5h

      The Gould Mine hike might not have gold to find (it does have an old mine), but it does have lots of the characteristic saguaros that Saguaro National Park is known for. This is a good pick if you want a shorter hike that’ll still get your heart rate up. With a decent bit of elevation gain included, it’s more of a moderate hike despite being less than two and a half miles long. Expect heavy traffic on this route.

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      Open details for Maeveen Behan Trail

      Maeveen Behan Trail

      Very Easy
      3.5 km
      19 m
      0.5-1h

      If you’re in the northern reaches of Tucson, Maeveen Behan Trail is a great pick for an easygoing nature walk. The trail is on the Crooked Tree Golf Course grounds, and it’s a pleasant area to take the dogs for a stroll or to get out with family. The loop is flat and there are some offshoots that would allow you to lengthen or shorten it if desired. This trail doesn’t tend to be too busy.

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      Open details for Yetman and 5th Avenue Trail

      Yetman and 5th Avenue Trail

      Moderate
      10.0 km
      152 m
      2-3h

      The Yetman and 5th Avenue Trail hike makes use of two of the main routes in Tucson Mountain Park, offering a scenic adventure in nature on a moderately difficult trail. This route is well marked and offers the chance to see some local wildlife (including rattlesnakes, so be careful!). Wear sturdy boots for this rocky trail and watch for mountain bikers.

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      Open details for Mica View to Cactus Forest Loop

      Mica View to Cactus Forest Loop

      Very Easy
      3.1 km
      21 m
      0.5-1h

      The Mica View to Cactus Forest Loop is an 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. Your route is packed with prickly pears and saguaros to admire as you go. Bring water with you!

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      Open details for Saguaro Vista, Lost Arrow, and Wildflower Loop

      Saguaro Vista, Lost Arrow, and Wildflower Loop

      Very Easy
      4.0 km
      64 m
      1h

      The Saguaro Vista, Lost Arrow, and Wildflower Loop shows off the wonderful scenery of Tucson’s Sweetwater Preserve on a beginner and kid-friendly trail. This is a gorgeous hike at sunrise and golden hour, but give it a try any time of day (except maybe the hottest part of the afternoon). There are some sections of the route that have loose rocks, but otherwise, it’s a fairly straightforward adventure that we’d recommend for anyone.

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      Open details for Garwood Trail

      Garwood Trail

      Easy
      5.3 km
      62 m
      1-1.5h

      The Garwood Trail is an easy route in Tucson’s Saguaro National Park East. This hike is great for hikers of all levels, including families. The terrain is varied (gravel, sand, rock), the views are nice, and there are tons of birds to spot if you fancy yourself a birder. There are also stairs to help you out on the steeper parts. This trail is open to foot traffic and horse traffic, but dogs are not allowed. Expect light to moderate traffic.

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      Open details for Slingshot Trail and Mosaic Trail Loop

      Slingshot Trail and Mosaic Trail Loop

      Moderate
      4.8 km
      83 m
      1-1.5h

      Looking for beginner-friendly or kid-friendly hikes in the city? The Slingshot Trail and Mosaic Trail Loop is a great option. 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. You’ll hike between Bactrian Summit and Recoil Peak, admiring the plentiful cacti in this area. 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 Linda Vista Short Loop

      Linda Vista Short Loop

      Easy
      3.1 km
      128 m
      1-1.5h

      The Linda Vista Short Loop is a short route in Tucsons’ Pusch Ridge Wilderness. This hike is very quick and it’s easy to reach from Oro Valley and northeastern Tucson. It provides a great break in nature without requiring too much effort. Additionally, this route is 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 enjoyable.

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      Open details for Mount Lemmon, Wilderness of Rocks, and Aspen Loop

      Mount Lemmon, Wilderness of Rocks, and Aspen Loop

      Hard
      15.6 km
      722 m
      4.5-6.5h

      The Mount Lemmon, Wilderness of Rocks, and Aspen Loop is a rugged, adventurous hike near Summerhaven that we recommend for strong hikers who don’t mind a bit of a challenge. This route starts at Mount Lemmon for unbelievable views, but you’ll be dealing with some bugs and potential stream crossings along the way. It’s a full-day adventure! Expect light traffic.

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      Open details for Douglas Spring to Three Tank Trail Junction

      Douglas Spring to Three Tank Trail Junction

      Moderate
      7.2 km
      296 m
      2-3h

      For hikers who want to explore Douglas Spring Trail but who don’t want to take on the full length of it, this section to Three Tank Trail Junction is a great compromise. Spend a beautiful morning or afternoon in Saguaro National Park East enjoying this scenic, moderate route. 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 Garwood Dam to Douglas Spring Loop

      Garwood Dam to Douglas Spring Loop

      Easy
      11.4 km
      350 m
      3-4h

      Revel in the unique beauty of Tucson’s Saguaro National Park East on the Garwood Dam to Douglas Spring Loop, a 11.3 km easy hike that shows off the mountain views and saguaros that the north end of the park offers in spades. This hike is suitable for all skill levels and it’s open to foot traffic and horse traffic. Dogs are not allowed on this route. Expect moderate traffic.

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      Open details for Finger Rock Trail to Pima Canyon Trail

      Finger Rock Trail to Pima Canyon Trail

      Hard
      20.9 km
      1,279 m
      7-10h

      The Finger Rock Trail to Pima Canyon Trail hike is a 20.9 km route in Tucson’s Pusch Ridge Wilderness that is rated as hard. This route leads you through to canyons with impressive riparian habitats and rich biodiversity. The views get better and better as you climb, which you’ll do a fair amount of. 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.

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      Open details for Freeman Homestead Nature Trail

      Freeman Homestead Nature Trail

      Very Easy
      1.8 km
      33 m
      0.5h

      The Freeman Homestead Nature Trail is a short and sweet route in Saguaro National Park East. This hike is an excellent introduction to the desert for visitors or locals who are getting outside more often and want to know which plants are which in the deserts of Tucson. With name placards labelling the vegetation along the route, you can remember which cactus is which-hopefully! No dogs are allowed on this route.

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      Open details for Pink Hill, Loma Verde, Cholla, and Cactus Forest Loop

      Pink Hill, Loma Verde, Cholla, and Cactus Forest Loop

      Very Easy
      5.3 km
      24 m
      1-1.5h

      The Pink Hill, Loma Verde, Cholla, and Cactus Forest Loop is a 5.1 km easy hike in Saguaro National Park East in Tucson. This hike is ideal for beginners, families, and hikers after a relaxed stroll in the beautiful desert. You’ll enjoy the mountain views and carpets of cacti that the park is known for on a route that’s gently undulating and easy to follow. Expect moderate traffic.

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      Open details for Mount Kimball via Pima Canyon Trail

      Mount Kimball via Pima Canyon Trail

      Hard
      20.3 km
      1,383 m
      7.5-10.5h

      Reach the top of Mount Kimball via Pima Canyon using this route guide. This route leads you through a canyon with impressive riparian habitats and rich biodiversity. Hiking through the canyon underneath the Pusch Ridge, the views get better and better as you climb. With a final push to the top, you’ll have a great viewpoint. 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.

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      Open details for Saguaro Vista Loop

      Saguaro Vista Loop

      Moderate
      3.7 km
      47 m
      1h

      The Saguaro Vista Loop shows off the stunning sky-high saguaros in Tucson’s Sweetwater Preserve on a beginner and kid-friendly trail. Some of the cacti are staggeringly tall, and the mountains in the distance add to its charm. There are some sections of the route that have loose rocks, but otherwise, it’s a fairly straightforward adventure that we’d recommend for anyone.

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