Upon first visit, one wouldn’t initially think much of Tucson. In fact, it took us 2 years to get over our culture shock (we relocated from the evergreen state of Washington). Views of the open-pit mine on I-10 isn’t exactly what one would call breathtaking but delve a little deeper into the hidden gem of Tucson and visitors will find an abundance of beautiful trails to satisfy anyone’s appetite for the great outdoors.
1) Blackett’s Ridge
Blackett’s Ridge, located within Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, is about a 7-mile out and back desert trail that offers amazing panoramic views of Tucson and Sabino Canyon. With its quick elevation gain, Blackett’s Ridge is a fantastic fitness-building hike that leaves one feeling exhausted but accomplished!
See our trail reports & photos of Blackett’s Ridge:
2) Seven Falls
The hike to Seven Falls in Sabino Canyon Recreation Area is probably one of Tucson’s best known trails. This easy day-hike winds through a desert trail surrounded by tall cacti and towering canyon walls, ending up at an oasis (for southern-Arizona anyway) of waterfalls and pools. Hikers can shorten the 8.2 mile roundtrip hike by a total of 4 miles by hopping on the $4 Bear Canyon Tram to the actual Seven Falls trailhead, which is 2 miles away from the visitor center.
See our trail report & photos of Seven Falls:
3) Romero Pools
The hike to Romero Pools is Catalina State Park’s most popular trail. It’s 5.6 miles of moderate hiking with broad, scenic views of Pusch Ridge and the Santa Catalinas, ending at pools and flowing waterfalls.
See our trail reports & photos of Romero Pools:
4) Hunter Trail to Picacho Peak
Technically, Picacho Peak is situated between Tucson and Casa Grande but the trek to the summit of the mountain is so much fun it had to be included in this list. The 3-mile out and back trail is heart-pumping and strenuous but what keeps visitors coming back for more torture is the uniqueness of the trail –some sections are so steep, assistance from cable ropes are needed!
See our trail reports & photos of Picacho Peak:
5) Marshall Gulch
When the hot summer months hit, we head to Marshall Gulch on Mount Lemmon, where it is always 20+ degrees cooler. The Marshall Gulch area is the starting point to many beautiful hikes but one of our favorites is the actual Marshall Gulch trail, which takes hikers over streams and through a shaded sub-alpine forest.
See our trail reports & photos of Marshall Gulch:
6) Lower Tanque Verde Falls
Surrounded by towering saguaros, the Lower Tanque Verde falls are an oasis in the Tucson desert. This half mile trail near Reddington Pass ends at a popular watering hole for those wanting to take a dip and cool off.
See our trail report & photos of Lower Tanque Verde Falls:
7) Butterfly Trail
The Butterfly Trail is a 10.8 mile hike that can be done year-round. The diverse biology, sweeping views, and relative ease of the trail makes it one of Mount Lemmon’s more popular treks.
See our trail reports & photos of Butterfly Trail:
- http://americanexpeditioners.com/plane-crash-mount-lemmon-butterfly-trail (to the plane crash)
- http://americanexpeditioners.com/hiking-butterfly-trail-mount-lemmon (winter)
- http://americanexpeditioners.com/mount-lemmon-butterfly-trail-hike (summer)
8) Sabino Canyon Tram Road
The Sabino Canyon Tram Road almost didn’t make the cut for the sole reason it’s a paved road –but it’s a Tucson Classic that leads to a plethora of unpaved trails therefore it had to be on the list. The Sabino Canyon Tram Road is 7.6 miles round trip. Most visitors opt to ride the tram but visitors can’t go wrong with hiking the entire road or taking a tram and getting off to explore the many side-trails located at one of the 9 tram stops.
See our trail reports & photos of Sabino Canyon Tram Road:
9) Lemmon Rock Lookout
The Lemmon Rock Lookout trail at the top of Mount Lemmon offers dazzling panoramic views of spectacular rock formations in nearly every direction. The steep switchbacks are no joke; the Lemmon Rock Lookout trail earned its “most difficult” rating by dropping 2,000 feet in a short 2.2 miles (one way). The impressive views of Rappel Rock, Pusch Ridge, Sabino Canyon, and the city of Tucson are worth the effort.
See our trail reports & photos of Lemmon Rock Lookout:
10) Linda Vista Loop
The Linda Vista trail is an urban hike less than 5 minutes away from the El Conqustador Golf Resort. This easy 2.11 mile loop trail through the desert is surprisingly shaded and lets hikers get up close to the towering Pusch Peak, a prominent feature of Oro Valley.
See our trail report & photos of Linda Vista Loop:
This post may be revised as we have several Tucson hikes to cross off this year: summit Pusch Peak, Ventana Canyon trail, Lemmon Pools, and several trails in Tucson Mountain Park just to name a few!
For more Tucson area hikes, visit our Tucson tags page.