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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 101 to 119 of 119
      Open details for Cam Boh, Picture Rocks, and Ironwood Forest Trail Loop

      Cam Boh, Picture Rocks, and Ironwood Forest Trail Loop

      Easy
      5.1 km
      72 m
      1-1.5h

      The Cam Boh, Picture Rocks, and Ironwood Forest Trail Loop is an easy hike in Saguaro National Park West. This park in Tucson is known for its countless massive saguaros, which are on full display on this hike (as are the resident bird species, for interested birders). This route is quite flat, but you’ll be hiking through a lot of sand in the washes, so it’s a bit of a leg burner at points. Expect moderate traffic.

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      Open details for Sabino to Phoneline Loop

      Sabino to Phoneline Loop

      Moderate
      14.5 km
      402 m
      3.5-5h

      The Sabino to Phoneline Loop leads you through the Sabino Canyon on both sides. The Sabino Canyon is known for its natural beauty and biodiversity. This moderately difficult trail is awesome 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 can look for birds, javelina, and bighorn sheep. Expect heavy traffic.

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      Open details for Packrat and Passey Loop Trail

      Packrat and Passey Loop Trail

      Easy
      4.7 km
      109 m
      1-1.5h

      The Packrat and Passey Loop Trail is a lightly trafficked serene route that begins in Sanctuary Cove and leads you through Saguaro National Park West. This is an easy route that’s perfect for the whole family. It’s usually never very busy, so you can enjoy the endless cactus views for yourself. Note that Sanctuary Cove closes at sunset, so you’ll need to do your hike before then or park somewhere else.

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      Open details for Saguaro Vista, Black Rock, and Oxbow Loop

      Saguaro Vista, Black Rock, and Oxbow Loop

      Moderate
      11.4 km
      155 m
      2.5-3.5h

      The Saguaro Vista, Black Rock, and Oxbow Loop shows off the lovely scenery in Tucson’s Sweetwater Preserve, one of our favorite spots in the city for a hike. With tall saguaros next to you and the mountains in the distance, it’s a charmer of a trail. 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 Vertical Cliffs to Abington Loop

      Vertical Cliffs to Abington Loop

      Very Easy
      6.1 km
      77 m
      1.5-2h

      Tucked up into a corner of Tucson's Saguaro National Park West, the Vertical Cliffs to Abington Loop is an easy, lightly trafficked route with rugged desert scenery. This hike is great for all skill levels and it can be extended using connecting trails if you wish. Try this one out on a day when you want a good shot of having the trail to yourself. Bring a route map if you’re unfamiliar with this part of the park.

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      Open details for Bunny Loop

      Bunny Loop

      Very Easy
      7.6 km
      29 m
      1.5-2h

      The Bunny Loop is a 7.6 km easy hiking and mountain biking trail south of Tucson. This route is flat and relaxed, with mostly scrubby bush, cholla, and mountains in the distance to see. While predominantly used by mountain bikers, hikers are welcome, just remember to share the trail and look out for one another. You’ll need a permit to use this trail.

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      Open details for Ernie’s Falls Hike

      Ernie’s Falls Hike

      Moderate
      10.6 km
      370 m
      3-4h

      The Ernie's Falls hike is a moderate hike in Saguaro National Park East that leads you to a pretty waterfall, which will most reliably be running in the wintertime or after a monsoon. This route is used by hikers and horseback riders, and it shows off the rugged beauty of the park en route to the falls, which have a small pool you can dip your feet in if you wish. Dogs are not permitted on this trail. Expect heavy traffic.

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      Open details for Bactrian Summit via Mosaic Trail

      Bactrian Summit via Mosaic Trail

      Moderate
      3.5 km
      73 m
      1h

      Perched on the bench atop Bactrian Summit, you won’t feel like you’re in the city at all. The quick hike to the top of this low peak is via Mosaic Trail in Painted Hills Trails Park. It makes for a fun and fast adventure on its own, or you can enjoy it as a warm-up or finale in addition to other trails in the area. This hike sees light to moderate traffic and it’s suitable for all ages and skill levels.

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      Open details for Rock Wren Trail

      Rock Wren Trail

      Easy
      6.8 km
      116 m
      1.5-2h

      The Rock Wren Trail is one of the most popular trails in Tucson Mountain Park, often used as part of a longer loop adventure in the park. This route guide details the 6.8 km out and back trip on this trail alone. This hike is well marked and offers the chance to see some local wildlife, and it’s rated as moderately difficult. The route also connects to a wider range of trails, so you could easily extend to personalize your adventure if you wanted to.

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      Open details for Wild Dog Trail

      Wild Dog Trail

      Very Easy
      3.1 km
      57 m
      0.5-1h

      It’s probably impossible to pick a bad trail in the Saguaro Wilderness, but the Wild Dog Trail is a great choice for a few reasons. This 3.1 km can be finished in less than an hour for most groups, but it doesn’t skimp on the views. See the tall saguaros, the foothills, perhaps the local javelinas, and be back to the car in time to go about your day. This route is easy enough for all skill levels and sees light traffic.

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      Open details for Mosaic and Slingshot Loop

      Mosaic and Slingshot Loop

      Very Easy
      4.7 km
      82 m
      1-1.5h

      Painted Hills Trail Park is one of our favorite destinations in Tucson for fast, accessible, scenic hikes, and the Mosaic and Slingshot Loop is no exception. 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 Buster Mountain via Birding Trail

      Buster Mountain via Birding Trail

      Hard
      9.7 km
      616 m
      3.5-5h

      Strong hikers looking for their next big adventure in Tucson can give Buster Mountain via Birding Trail a shot. This difficult hike requires a hefty bit of route-finding and there are a couple of interesting scrambling problems along the way. It’ll tire you out, but the view from the top is a treat with both the Pusch Ridge Wilderness and Catalina State Park in clear view. Expect light traffic and come prepared for a strenuous hike.

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      Open details for Cactus Canyon and Gila Monster Loop

      Cactus Canyon and Gila Monster Loop

      Moderate
      9.7 km
      224 m
      2.5-3.5h

      The Cactus Canyon and Gila Monster Loop is a 9.7 km hike in Tucson’s Saguaro National Park that puts the diverse flora and fauna of the desert on display. This route is moderately difficult and makes for a nice half-day adventure. You’ll want to bring a downloaded GPS track or trail map as the route can be unclear in some spots, but overall we consider this a route worth trying. Dogs are not permitted.

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      Open details for Dripping Spring via Sutherland Trail

      Dripping Spring via Sutherland Trail

      Easy
      6.8 km
      138 m
      1.5-2h

      Starting off in Tucson’s lovely Catalina State Park, the hike to Dripping Springs on Sutherland Trail is a charming easy hike that leads you to a small waterfall and spring in the foothills of the Pusch Ridge Wilderness. This hike is easy, but it can get a bit overgrown from lack of use, so long pants may be recommended. Try to time your hike for when there’s been rain, which will give you the best experience at the spring. Dogs are not permitted on this route.

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      Open details for Bear Canyon Trail

      Bear Canyon Trail

      Hard
      25.4 km
      881 m
      7-9.5h

      Bear Canyon Trail is one of the main routes in Tucson’s Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. The entire trail is almost 25.7 km long, but most hikers on the route will turn around at Seven Falls. If you’re just bound for the falls, use our Bear Canyon Trail to Seven Falls Guide. This guide details the entire length of Bear Canyon Trail. It’s excellent for its ease of access from the city and for its diverse, beautiful terrain. It’s a longer trek, but it’s worth doing to experience the scenery throughout the entire canyon. Dogs are not permitted on this route.

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      Open details for Hugh Norris, Sendero Esperanza, and Dobbie Wash Loop

      Hugh Norris, Sendero Esperanza, and Dobbie Wash Loop

      Moderate
      10.3 km
      378 m
      3-4h

      The Hugh Norris, Sendero Esperanza, and Dobbie Wash Loop is a bit of a mouthful, but it’s a great hike in Tucson’s stunning Saguaro Wilderness. This route doesn’t get too busy, so you can enjoy the unique beauty of the desert without needing to share the trail with too many others. All the work is in the first half of the hike, then you’ll be able to put cruise control on for the second half. Expect light traffic.

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      Open details for Cactus Forest, Squeeze Pen, and Pink Hill Loop

      Cactus Forest, Squeeze Pen, and Pink Hill Loop

      Easy
      8.2 km
      50 m
      1.5-2h

      The Cactus Forest, Squeeze Pen, and Pink Hill Loop is an easy trail in Tucson’s Saguaro National Park East. This route mostly has pretty desert vegetation to appreciate, so the beauty is more in the small things than in big, impressive views on this one. Try to time it for when the creosote is blooming for the best experience. This route generally sees moderate to heavy traffic.

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      Open details for Shantz, Cholla, and Cactus Forest Loop

      Shantz, Cholla, and Cactus Forest Loop

      Easy
      8.2 km
      38 m
      1.5-2h

      The Shantz, Cholla, and Cactus Forest Loop is an easy trail in Tucson’s Saguaro National Park East. The star of this route is the varied desert vegetation along the trail, so the beauty is more in the small things than in big, impressive views on this adventure. Try to time your visit for when the creosote is blooming for the best experience. This route generally sees moderate traffic.

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      Open details for Saguaro Vista, Spine, and Desperado Loop

      Saguaro Vista, Spine, and Desperado Loop

      Easy
      5.0 km
      72 m
      1-1.5h

      The Saguaro Vista, Spine, and Desperado Loop is a 5.0 km hike that shows off the special scenery of Tucson’s Sweetwater Preserve on a non-challenging trail. Enjoy the massive saguaros that flank the hills and the mountain views in the distance. There are some sections of the route that have loose rocks, but otherwise, it’s a fairly straightforward adventure. Dogs are permitted on this trail as long as they’re on leash.

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