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Hiking Trails

Saguaro National Park West

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  • 15 miles west of the city of Tucson, the Tucson Mountain region of Saguaro National Park is smaller, lower and biologically younger than the east section but the saguaros are just as large and extensive. The north and west areas are generally flat with uninterrupted forests of the huge cacti, while the land becomes more mountainous towards the south and east, rising to a high point of 4,687 feet (Wasson Peak) where the saguaro are replaced by scattered bushes and sparse grassland, the temperatures are lower and the environment more moist.

  • There is no campsite within the park, and backpacking is not permitted

  • Around 30 cactus species grow in the vicinity of the Tucson Mountains. Apart from the saguaro, the most plentiful species are the cholla, with seven different species found - teddy bear, buckhorn, staghorn, pencil, christmas, cane and chainfruit. Most cacti, including the saguaro, are in bloom from April to June, with late May the best time.​​

Popular Hikes

  • Gould Mine Trail

    • 1.1 Mile, 260 feet elevation gain

    • Path up a cactus-studded ravine to the remains of an old mine

  • Cactus Wren and Manville Trails

    • 4 miles, 200 feet elevation gain

    • Loop over fairly level ground densely covered with large saguaro cacti and other Sonoran Desert plants

  • Hugh Norris Trail

    • 8.9 Miles Out and Back

    • 2,398 Feet elevation gain

    • Trail is considered challenging

    • Estimated time to complete: 5 hours

    • Popular Hike for Horseback Riding

    • Lots of Steps and Switchbacks

  • Wasson Peak via King Canyon

    • 7.9  Miles Loop

    • 1866  feet elevation gain

    • Trail is considered challenging

    • Estimated time to complete: 4 hours, 15 minutes

    • Trail is clearly marked and easy to follow

  • Wasson Peak via Sweetwater Trail

    • 9.3 miles our and back

    • 2093 feet elevation gain

    • This trial is considered a challenging route

    • Estimated time to complete: 5 hours

Saguaro National Park East

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  • Seventeen miles east of the center of Tucson, the Rincon Mountains section of Saguaro National Park is the larger and more remote of the two halves of the preserve, and includes an extensive mountainous area with hills as high as 8,664 feet (Mica Mountain).

  • The cacti here are as large but grow slightly less dense than those at Tucson Mountain in the west, with more intervening bushes and other vegetation so the overall effect is not quite so dramatic. Faced with a choice between the two, the west is preferable for a short visit, though the east offers many more opportunities for extended hiking, and is the only region where backpacking is permitted.

  • The Rincon Mountain District of Saguaro National Park ranges from an elevation of 2,670 ft to 8,666 ft and contains 6 biotic communities. The biotic communities (starting from the lowest elevation) include desert scrub, desert grassland, oak woodland, pine-oak woodland, pine forest and mixed conifer forest. The Rincon Mountains peak at a considerably higher elevation than the Tucson Mountains, therefore there are more biotic communities and increased plant and wildlife diversity. Because of the higher elevation in the Rincons, animals like the black bear, Mexican spotted owl, Arizona mountain king snake, and white-tailed deer live in this district.

Popular Hikes

  • Freeman Homestead Nature Trail

    • 1.1 mile loop

    • 108 feet elevation gain

    • Trail is considered easy

    • Estimated time to complete: 30 minutes.

  • Loma Verde and Squeeze Pen Loop

    • 3.7 mile Loop

    • 157 feet elevation gain

    • Trail is considered easy

    • Estimated time to complete: 1 hour and 15 minutes.

  • Hope Camp and Ridgeview Trail

    • 6.2 mile Out and Back

    • 528 feet of elevation gain

    • Trail is considered moderately challenging

    • Estimated time to complete is 2 hours, 15 minutes

  • Garwood Dam and Wildhorse Tank

    • 3.9 mile Out and Back

    • 331 feet of elevation gain

    • Trail is considered easy

    • Estimated time to complete: 1 hour, 30 minutes

  • Tanque Verde Ridge Trail

    • 17.6 mile out and back

    • 4,494 feet of elevation gain

    • Trail is considered highly challenging and should only be attempted by experienced hikers

    • Estimated time to complete: 9 hours, 45 minutes

    • Popular Hike for Backpacking. The Juniper Basin Campground is located on the trail and makes for an great overnight spot under the stars

Sabino Canyon Recreation Area

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  • Sabino Canyon, one of the premier natural areas in southern Arizona, is located at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains in the Coronado National Forest

  • Come to Sabino to see water in the desert. Between steep rock cliffs and unique desert vegetation you will find riparian corridors. Due to winter's snow melt and summer's electrifying lightning storms, Sabino Creek flows almost year around.

  • Enjoy Sabino Canyons via hiking their 30+ miles of trails, or ride the open air shuttle.

Popular Hikes

  • Seven Falls via Bear Canyon to Seven Falls

    • 8.4 miles Out and Back

    • 1,069 feet of elevation gain

    • Trail is considered moderately challenging

    • Estimate time to complete: 3 hours, 30 minutes

    • Trail includes several water crossings

    • My Favorite Hike in Tucson

  • Phoneline Trail to Blackett’s Ridge and Saddleback

    • 5.7 mile out and back

    • 1,778 feet in elevation gain

    • Trail is considered challenging

    • Estimated time to complete: 3 hours, 30 minutes

  • Sabino Lake Loop

    • 2.3 mile loop

    • 144 feet in elevation gain

    • Trail is considered Easy

    • Estimated time to complete: 45 minutes

  • Hutchs Pool via Sabino Canyon

    • 8.0 mile Out and Back from Tram stop 9 (15.4 without tram)

    • 1,181 feet of elevation gain (1915 feet without tram)

    • Trail is considered moderately challenging

    • Estimated time to complete: 3 hours, 30 minutes

    • Trail includes water crossings and hard to follow at the end of the trail

    • There is a natural pool at the end of the hike, bring a change of clothes and a towel if you plan to get it the cold water

  • Sabino Tram Road

    • 7.4 miles Out and Back

    • 734 ft of elevation Gain

    • Trail is considered moderately challenging

    • Estimated Time to complete: 3 hours

    • This is a paved road running up to the Canyon. After 5pm, when the tram stops running, this is great running or cycling.

Madera Canyon

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  • Madera Canyon is a north-facing valley in the Santa Rita Mountains with riparian woodland along an intermittent stream, bordered by mesquite, juniper-oak woodlands, and pine forests.
     

  • A world-renowned spot for bird watching, Madera Canyon is the resting place for migrating species. Home to over 250 bird species.

Popular Hikes

  • Carrie Nation Mine Loop

    • 5 mile Loop

    • 1,893 feet in elevation gain

    • Trail is considered Challenging

    • Estimated Time to Complete: 3 hours, 30 minutes

    • Dogs are Welcome

  • Kent Spring Trail

    • 5.4 mile Loop

    • 1633 feet in elevation gain

    • Trail is considered challenging

    • Estimated Time to Complete: 3 hours, 15 minutes

  • Madera Canyon Nature Trail

    • 5.3 miles Out & Back

    • 879 feet in Elevation Gain

    • Trail is considered moderately Challenging

    • Estimated Time to Complete: 2 hours, 30 minutes

    • Dogs are Welcome

  • Super Trail

    • 4.5 Miles Out and Back

    • 1,030 feet of elevation gain

    • Trail is considered moderately challenging

    • Estimate Time to Complete: 2 Hours, 30 Minutes

    • Dogs are welcome

  • Old Baldy Trail to the Mt Wrightson Summit

    • 10.3 mile Loop

    • 4,009 feet of elevation gain

    • Trail is considered challenging

    • Estimate time to complete 7 hours, 15 minutes

    • Dogs are Welcome

Catalina State Park

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  • Catalina State Park sits at the base of the majestic Santa Catalina Mountains in Oro Valley, Northwest of Tucson. The park is a haven for desert plants and wildlife and nearly 5,000 saguaros. The 5,500 acres of foothills, canyons and streams invites camping, picnicking and bird watching — more than 150 species of birds call the park home. The park provides miles of equestrian, birding, hiking, and biking trails which wind through the park and into the Coronado National Forest at elevations near 3,000 feet.
     

  • You can hike, take a horseback ride, and bicycle on the trails, surrounded by the towering Santa Catalina Mountains. There are eight trails at the park, varying in length and difficulty, but all with amazing views. Leashed dogs are welcome on all trails.

Popular Hikes

  • Romero Ruins Interpretive Trail

    • 0.6 mile Loop

    • 68 feet in elevation gain

    • Trail is considered easy

    • Estimated Time to complete: 15 minutes

  • Canyon Loop Trail

    • 2.3 mile Loop

    • 196 feet in elevation gain

    • Trail is considered easy

    • Estimated time to complete: 1 hour

  • Sutherland Trail

    • 18.9 mile Out and Back

    • 5,725 feet in elevation gain

    • Trail is considered Challenging

    • Estimated time to Complete: 11 hours: 30 minutes

    • Trail takes you to the top of the Catalina Mountains and Mt. Lemmon. Hard to navigate at times. GPS is highly recommended.

  • Romero Canyon Trail to Romero Pools

    • 6.1 mile Out and Back

    • 1,318 feet in elevation gain

    • Trail is considered challenging

    • Estimated time to complete: 3 hours, 15 minutes

    • There is a natural pool at the end of the hike, bring a change of clothes and a towel if you plan to get it the cold water

Pusch Ridge Wildnerness

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  • Pusch Ridge towers over Tucson and the surrounding desert as one of the most prominent features of the Santa Catalina Mountains. With its lower slopes dotted with saguaro cacti and its upper reaches dark Douglas-fir. Within the 56,933-acre Wilderness, elevations range from 2,800 to 8,800 feet.

Popular Hikes

  • Aspen Trail and Marshall Gulch Loop Trail

    • 3.7 mile loop

    • 826 feet in elevation gain

    • Trail is considered moderately challenging

    • Estimated Time to complete: 2 hours

  • Pima Canyon Trail

    • 10.4 mile Out and back

    • 3,339 feet in elevation gain

    • Trail is considered Challenging

    • Estimate time to complete: 6 hours, 30 minutes

  • Finger Rock

    • 2.9 miles out and back

    • 961 feet elevation gain

    • Trail is considered moderately challenging

    • Estimate time to complete: 2 hours

  • Pontatoc Ridge Trail

    • 4.1 mile out and back

    • 1,407 feet in elevation gain

    • Trail is considered Challenging

    • Estimated time to complete: 2 hours, 30 minutes

  • Window Peak via Ventana Canyon Trail

    • 13.6 mile out and back

    • 4,520 feet in elevation gain

    • Trail is considered challenging

    • Estimated time to complete: 8 hours, 45 minutes

    • Trail can be difficult to follow at times, download an offline map, or bring GPS.

Mt. Lemmon

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  • Mt lemmon is the highest point in the Santa Catalina Mountains. It’s elevation sits at 9,159 feet. It is a great place to escape to during the hot Tucson summers. And because of this, it is also, a popular hiking destination. Unlike most hikes in the Tucson area, these hikes are shaded by tall pine trees.

Popular hikes

  • Meadow and Mount Lemmon Trail #5

    • 2.1 mile loop

    • 360 feet in elevation gain

    • Trail is considered Easy

    • Estimated time to complete: 1 hour

    • Dogs are welcome

  • Box Spring via Box Camp Trail

    • 4.9 mile Out and Back

    • 1,587 feet of elevation gain

    • Trail is considered Moderately Challenging

    • Estimated Time to Complete: 3 hours

    • Dogs are Welcome

  • Lemmon Rock Lookout Trail #12

    • 4.6 mile Out and Back

    • 1,850 feet of elevation gain

    • Trail is considered challenging

    • Estimated time to complete: 3 hours, 15 minutes

    • Dogs are welcome

  • Butterfly Loop

    • 7.7 mile loop

    • 2,208 feet of elevation gain

    • Trail is considered Challenging

    • Estimate time to complete: 4 hours, 30 minutes

    • Dogs are Welcome

  • Red Ridge Trail

    • 9.5 miles Out and Back

    • 3,362 feet in elevation gain

    • Trail is considered Challenging

    • Estimated time to complete: 6 hours: 15 minutes

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