Tucson’s top trails to trek this year

Tucson’s top trails to trek this year

(Unsplash Photo/JC Cervantes)

By Good Info News Wire Team

February 21, 2024

It’s time to trade in your city-slicker shoes for some trusty hiking boots, because the great outdoors is calling! 


If you’ve ever found yourself scrolling through Instagram envying those picturesque hiking photos taken by your friends, remember, you’re living in a hiker’s paradise too. From the rippling tranquility of Seven Falls to the city’s hug from Tumamoc Hill, there’s a trail in Tucson with your name on it.

Sure, the length of some might make you think twice, but isn’t conquering peaks and splashing in natural pools worth a little sweat? So slap on that sunscreen, fill up those water bottles, and let’s hit the trails with a rundown of the best hikes in your own backyard—ranked from “worth the climb” to “Instagram bragging rights included.”


10. Tanque Verde Ridge Trail

Location: Saguaro National Park, Rincon Mountain District

Length: Up to 18 miles round trip

Difficulty: Difficult

Perched in the rugged ridges of the eastern portion of Saguaro National Park, the Tanque Verde Ridge Trail invites the adventurous to explore its challenging yet rewarding terrain.

With the potential to extend to an 18-mile journey, this strenuous trail promises vibrant desert flora, diverse geology, and the chance to camp under the stars at Juniper Basin Campground.

Ambitious hikers are treated to a rocky summit with rewarding vistas that span the breadth of the Sonoran Desert. The dramatic change from desert floor to high ridgeline means hikers should pack plenty of water and start early to catch the breathtaking sunrise or sunset views.


9. Phone Line Trail

Location: Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, Coronado National Forest

Length: 9.8 miles round trip

Difficulty: Moderate

The Phone Line Trail is a historical route that runs parallel to Sabino Canyon, offering sweeping views with a moderately difficult journey. Although not as frequented as some of the other trails in Sabino Canyon, its 9-mile round trip is perfect for those seeking a quieter escape with the same magnificent cliffs and canyon floor vistas.

The trail is named for the telephone line once used to communicate with the now-defunct Sabino Dam. Hikers particularly enjoy its less strenuous terrain, though the current closure due to rockslides highlights the trail’s wild and untamed nature. Always check for updates on re-openings to ensure a safe and enjoyable hike.


8. Finger Rock Trail

Location: Santa Catalina Mountains, Coronado National Forest

Length: Up to 9.8 miles round trip

Difficulty: Very difficult

Finger Rock Trail is an arduous path that directs the steadfast hiker straight to the base of the notable Finger Rock formation. This 9.8-mile round trip is considered one of Tucson’s most challenging hikes, navigating through steep inclines and rough terrain. The trail’s difficulty is matched only by its splendor, offering panoramic views of the city below and the breathtaking scenery of the Catalinas.

Post-Bighorn Fire restoration has revitalized the trail, making it a testament to the resilience of nature and a magnet for hikers seeking a rigorous workout amidst the wilderness.


7. Wasson Peak via Sweetwater Trail

Location: Saguaro National Park, Tucson Mountain District

Length: 9 miles round trip

Difficulty: Moderate to difficult

The journey to Wasson Peak via the Sweetwater Trail presents hikers with an eclectic mix of desert landscapes, dotted with iconic saguaros. This 9-mile trek is a favorite for its balanced challenge and scenic payoffs, culminating in a panoramic view from Tucson’s highest point in the Tucson Mountains.

While not as steep as alternative routes, the steady incline does require effort but rewards hikers with sweeping vistas and a sense of wonder at the desert’s rugged beauty. It’s an ideal hike for those wanting to witness the full range of the Sonoran Desert’s biodiversity.


6. Blackett’s Ridge Trail

Location: Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, Coronado National Forest

Length: 6.2 miles round trip

Difficulty: Difficult

Blackett’s Ridge Trail offers a strenuous 6.2-mile round trip hike that climbs over 1,300 feet for sweeping vistas of both Sabino and Bear Canyons. This climb, while daunting, is a bucket-list item for many Tucson hikers due to its ascent through a forest of majestic saguaros and other native desert plants.

The hike challenges even the most seasoned hikers with its sharp elevation gains and untamed beauty. The view from the ridge makes the heart-pounding ascent well worth it, marking the trail as a high point of the Sabino Canyon experience.


5. Douglas Spring Trail

Location: Saguaro National Park, Rincon Mountain District

Length: Up to 16.8 miles round trip

Difficulty: Moderate to difficult

Douglas Spring Trail weaves through the enchanting foothills of the Rincon Mountains, offering a hike that can be tailored to any length up to 16.8 miles to the Douglas Spring Campground. The allure of this trail lies in its vast array of desert flora, potential encounters with wildlife such as bighorn sheep, and the riot of wildflowers that come to life in spring.

This moderately challenging hike is accessible year-round, with the added option for overnight camping for those who wish to fully immerse themselves in the serenity of the desert wilderness. Its versatility makes it a favorite among both casual day hikers and intrepid backpackers alike.


4. Romero Canyon Trail to Romero Pools

Location: Catalina State Park, Santa Catalina Mountains

Length: 6.1 miles round trip

Difficulty: Moderate to difficult

Nestled within the Santa Catalina Mountains, the Romero Canyon Trail leads to the refreshing oasis of Romero Pools, a series of natural rock pools and cascades. Covering 6 miles round trip with an elevation gain of more than 1,000 feet, this moderate hike appeals to both leisure walkers and serious adventurers.

Especially popular on warm days, the pools provide a cool respite from the desert heat after ascending through the diverse and engaging terrain. Its combination of accessibility, rewarding views, and the promise of a waterside retreat makes it one of the top trails in the Tucson area.


3. Tumamoc Hill

Location: West of Downtown Tucson, Tumamoc Hill

Length: 3.1 miles round trip

Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous

Tumamoc Hill, an iconic landmark located just west of downtown Tucson, is more than just a trail; it’s a community gathering spot for locals to exercise and connect with nature. The paved 3.1-mile round trip delivers a vigorous workout with its steep inclination, drawing walkers, runners, and those looking for a quick outdoor escape. The panoramic views of the city frequently reward those who tackle the hill, especially during the cooler evening hours.

Despite its urban proximity, Tumamoc Hill maintains a sense of wildness, offering a unique opportunity to explore Tucson’s natural history.


2. Pima Canyon Trail

Location: Pima Canyon Recreation Area, Santa Catalina Mountains

Length: 10.4 miles round trip

Difficulty: Moderate to difficult

Pima Canyon Trail is well-known for its stunning views of Pusch Ridge and the Tucson skyline. The 10-mile out-and-back path provides hikers with a vigorous workout amidst a backdrop of rugged high desert.

Its reputation as a beloved trail among locals for its challenging terrain, excellent photo opportunities, and the chance to witness the resilience of the desert landscape remains untarnished. As it heals and reopens, hikers will no doubt return to this natural gem in the heart of the Catalinas.


1. Seven Falls Trail

Location: Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, Coronado National Forest

Length: 8.2 miles round trip

Difficulty: Moderate

Hailed as one of Tucson’s most coveted natural attractions, the Seven Falls Trail through Sabino Canyon is an 8.2-mile journey to a series of magnificent falls and pools. What makes this trail the crème de la crème for many are the multiple stream crossings, stunning canyon views, and the reward of cool, cascading waters that prove irresistible during the warmer months.

Seasonal water flow transformation from gentle streams to more impressive waterfalls provides a varying spectacle year-round. Hikers enjoy the well-maintained path that offers moderate challenges, making it suitable for families and individuals looking to soak in the majesty of the Sonoran Desert.

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.Tucson’s top trails to trek this yearTucson’s top trails to trek this year

This story was generated in part by AI and edited by The Copper Courier staff.


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  • Good Info News Wire Team

    Good Info News Wire is supported by the Good Information Foundation, a public benefit corporation with a mission of increasing the flow of good, factual information online to promote local journalism and counter the spread of misinformation.

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