Hiking in Tucson: Best 15 Stunning Tucson Trails

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Tucson has over 100 miles of trails within city limits to explore all year round, but there are many other great hikes just outside the city as well!

It's an oasis of culture and color in the Sonoran Desert. The city itself is nestled between two mountain ranges, which makes it a prime location for hiking!

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Learn about the other hikes:

How to Find the Best Hikes in Tucson

Hikes are a great way to explore the outdoors and spend time with nature. Tucson is an excellent place for hiking, with scenic trails all around the city.

The best hikes in Tucson are going to be different for everyone. It is a matter of personal preference, interests, fitness level, and skill level.

For example, if you are looking for an easy hike with ample parking, the Catalina State Park Loop Trail is perfect.

If you want a more challenging hike that includes incredible views of the city and mountains, try Linda Vista at sunrise or sunset.

However, there are many great hikes available to every kind of hiker in this beautiful city. Continue reading to choose the perfect one according to your own preference.

What Makes These Hikes So Beautiful?

Beautiful desert landscape in Tucson

There is always something different about the beauty of nature in the mountains. The picturesque views are breathtaking, but the hikes are what make these hikes so beautiful.

Hiking is one of the best ways to experience nature in its raw form. This activity has been around for centuries and will continue to be a popular way to spend your free time in the future. The history of waking is the proof of that.

The different trails that hikers can take are all unique in their way, but some things make these hikes so beautiful such as the terrain, the landscape, and the wildlife.

How to Find The Best Time of Year for Your Hike


Planning a hike is tricky, but with the help of some basic tips, you can find the best time of the year for your hike.

First, you need to ask yourself what type of hike you want to do - day hikes or overnight hikes? Different seasons call for different types of hikes. For example-

  • Spring is great for day hikes with lots of greenery and wildflowers in bloom.
  • Summer is perfect for overnight backpacking trips.
  • Fall is another great season for day hiking trips because it is not as hot as summer, but there are fewer bugs out due to the changing leaves.
It's also good to remember that hiking during peak seasons can be challenging due to crowded mountain trails and heavy traffic on popular trails through National Parks.

Quick Tips for Visiting Tucson's Hiking Trails

Hiking gears

  • If you're hiking in Tucson for a couple of hours, bring plenty of water and snacks.
  • Tucson has a lot of hiking trails that won't take more than an hour at the most, so don't spend your whole day hiking!
  • Be mindful of parking fees at trailheads. If you want to avoid this fee, try parking a little ways off from the trailhead and walking to it instead.
  • If possible, hike early in the morning before it gets too hot or later in the evening when it's cooler. Hikes are typically much easier when the temperature is mild.

  • You don't have to be an expert hiker or athlete to enjoy these Tucson hikes, just willing to put some effort into exploring the beautiful desert landscape.

Best Tucson Hiking Trails

Hiking in the beautiful Arizona Mountains is a great way to explore nature and get some exercise. There's always something new at the end of every trail, making these walks worth your time!

Easy Tucson Hikes

  • Sabino Tram Road Trail

Sabino Tram Road Trail in Tucson, Arizona
Length: 7.4 miles Elevation gain: 224 m  Est. 3h 2m  Guide

The Sabino Tram Road Trail is a heavily trafficked out and back trail 11.9 kilometers in length near Tucson, Arizona.

The trail features beautiful views of the surrounding desert landscape but can be moderately strenuous and take about three hours to complete.

It may be one of the best in the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area for wildflowers, so come prepared to see some beautiful desert plants and flowers.

The beginning of this trail is relatively flat. Still, soon enough, you will turn right onto another dirt road after coming up to an intersection with a sign that points towards Bear Canyon Trail, where you can continue straight to make this hike longer or turn right to shorten the length.

The Sabino Tram Road Trail will continue to wind through scenic desert scenery with an abundance of vegetation, including cacti and different types of plants found throughout the Southwestern region of Arizona.

Pay close attention to rattlesnakes, which are common on this trail due to the variety of wildlife that calls this area home.

The Sabino Tram Road Trail is not only limited to hikers, so be sure to keep an eye out for bikers in particular because they can show up with a little warning.

Whatever you decide to do on this trail, make sure you know your surroundings, follow the Forest Service's rules and regulations and prepare for anything.

Pro tip: If you feel this hike is too long for you, consider starting at the west end of the trail on Sabino Tram Road for a more leisurely walk. {alertSuccess}

  • Valley View Overlook Trail

Hiking in Tucson's easy trail
Length: 0.8 miles  Elevation gain: 15 m • Est. 3h 2m  Guide

Valley View Overlook Trail (also known as the "Red Mountain loop") is a 1.3-kilometer hiking and walking trail located in an undeveloped, out-of-the-way canyon east of Tucson.

The trail provides access to serene views and glimpses of wildlife (especially birds) and rich flora such as wild penstemon.

Featuring few inclines and declines, Valley View Trail is not too difficult for those who occasionally hike or walk; however, it does require plenty of stamina.

Five designated points throughout the trail provide viewpoints, including Raptor Viewpoint with soaring hawks, Canyon Viewpoint with Saguaro Cactus, Palo Verde Viewpoint with its unusual trees, and Hill Viewpoint with views of Tucson's downtown area.

The final destination is the Sunset Viewpoint at the trail's end, complete with a bench to sit on while taking in an awe-inspiring view of Tucson's mountain ranges.

Valley View Overlook Trail is accessible year-round but may be extremely hot during the summer months, so it's best to hike or walk early in the morning, later in the evening when it becomes cooler, or during winter when there are likely lower temperatures and less intense sunshine.

There is no fee to access this trail nor any official restrooms; however, dogs are allowed only on leashes.

Pro tip: During the spring, which is usually February through April, hikers are likely to come across wildflowers.  {alertSuccess}

  • Catalina Canyon Loop Trail

Catalina Canyon Loop Trail in Tucson, Arizona
Length: 2.3 miles Elevation gain: 53 m • Est. 3h 2m  Guide

The Catalina Canyon Loop Trail is a 3.7-kilometer loop is located near Tucson, Arizona, with beautiful views and can be hiked or biked from September until May with horses too!

The trail offers many activity options for all skill levels and features gorgeous mountainside terrain, where you can enjoy a picnic or take in the view of the cactus-strewn hillsides.

This trail is perfect for families, hikers, and especially bikers who are just getting into the sport. 
From late fall through spring, beware of rattlesnakes along with undisturbed desert areas along the Loop Trail.

Tucson's moderate climate means you can get your daily dose of outdoor activities year-round; however, avoid summer months when temperatures reach up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 Celsius).

To complete this loop be sure to leave early in the morning since there is very little shade on this hike. From late fall through spring, beware of rattlesnakes along with undisturbed desert areas along the Loop Trail.

Pro tip: Be sure to take plenty of breaks along the way, especially if you're biking. {alertSuccess}

  • Mica View - Cholla - Cactus Forest Loop Trail

Mica View - Cholla - Cactus Forest Loop Trail in Tucson, Arizona

Length: 3.7 miles Elevation gain: 37 m • Est. 3h 2m  Guide

The Mica View Trail offers wonderful views of the Santa Catalina Mountains and is a great way to increase this hike.

This trail also provides you with your first chance to see wild Gila monsters, distinctive lizards that are nasty but shy around people. If you are lucky, you may even spot one crossing the trail!

The diversity of plant life on this trip is excellent, with the option of exploring prickly pear cacti forest, dense stands of cholla, and prickly pear cacti or miles of Tucson Mountain foothills.

The Cholla - Cactus Forest Loop Trail's northern terminus starts with the Mica View Trail, traveling west through Tucson Mountain foothills.

The loop then travels south along gently sloping hills until it reaches its southern terminus at the junction with the Ocotillo Patch Trail.

First-time visitors should make sure to take time while exploring this area to appreciate all of its unique features, including the prickly pear cactus forests (which you can see in bloom in late May or early June) and the cholla forest

As you walk, look for signs of wildlife in this area, including foxes and bobcats, which are most active at dawn and dusk but occasionally wander through during daylight hours.

Pro tip: To get the best experience, carry some water and start this hike in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid direct sunlight during the hottest parts of the day. {alertSuccess}

  • Black Rock Loop Trail

Black Rock Loop Trail in Tucson, Arizona

Length: 4.6 miles Elevation gain: 83 m • Est. 3h 2m  Guide

Black Rock Loop Trail is a 7.4 kilometer heavily trafficked loop trail located near Tucson, Arizona, that features beautiful wildflowers and offers great views for all skill levels. 

The terrain ranges from forested areas with rockier sections to more open fields perfect for hiking or running dogs along the way!

The trailhead is fairly easy to find, and free parking can be found in a dirt lot on the Northside of Soldier Trail. 

As with any desert hike, make sure you bring lots of water, snacks if desired, and sun protection so, you don't get overheated. Also, there are no public bathrooms at this location, so plan accordingly!

The loop itself doesn't start until after about 1.2 kilometers of walking the very flat (and interestingly named) Soldier Trail, which will take you past some barbwire fences which appear to separate the Pima Air & Space Museum from other properties. 

However, just before that museum entry gate will be your first opportunity to enter Black Rock Loop. This section starts fairly nice, with a dirt trail and sparsely placed rocks to keep your traction. 

You can also climb to the top of these piles from both sides, which offers some good views from the top when the flowers aren't in bloom.

Pro tip: If you're hiking with your dog, make sure you keep an eye out for rattlesnakes. They can be found throughout the southern Arizona desert area and especially this trail! {alertSuccess}

Moderate Tucson Hikes

  • Bear Canyon to Seven Falls Trail

Bear Canyon to Seven Falls Trail in Tucson, Arizona
Length: 8.3 miles Elevation gain: 309 m • Est. 3h 2m  Guide

The Bear Canyon to Seven Falls Trail is a 13.4 km out and back trail located near Tucson, Arizona, that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate.

For those interested in hiking around Tucson, this might be the perfect trail for you! It's accessible all year round with mild weather during winter.

During early mornings there's so much mist from the waterfalls it looks like clouds have descended upon us! However, before beginning any hike, always check conditions - you don't want to get caught in a flash flood or monsoon rains.

Bear Canyon is easy to start from - it's about 2 miles past the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, and there's plenty of parking along both sides of the road (though this fills up quickly during summer weekends.

The first mile of this trail is an easy hike through a forest that includes saguaro and desert plants. A few hills will get your heart rate up, but nothing too strenuous.

After this section, you come across some paved switchbacks that take you to the waterfall. From here, it's mostly flat (though there are some inclines).

If you're a dog owner, dogs must be on a leash, and you'll need to clean up after them as there are no poop bags at the trailhead.

Pro tip: The best way to start this hike is early, like before the sun rises. You'll be able to see the sunrise reflecting off the waterfalls. {alertSuccess}

  • Tanque Verde Falls Trail

Trailhead sign
Length: 1.9 miles Elevation gain: 141 m  Est. 3h 2m  Guide

Tanque Verde Falls Trail is a beautiful hiking trail home to one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Southern Arizona.

It's already regarded as one of the best hikes in Tucson, so you should check it out if you're looking for something new and refreshing to do outdoors!

Another great thing about the trail is that it's not as popular as other trails in Tucson, so you may pretty much have it all to yourself!

The hike starts with a bit of climbing (it's not too bad, though! It never seems like it gets too steep).  
Near the beginning of the trail, there is a cave that miners have historically used. It has even been used as an apartment at one point in time!

The trail is relatively easy to follow, so you shouldn't have any problem if you choose to go alone, but there are also many people around, so you can always ask them for help if need be.

Pro tip: During the weekends, you may encounter lots of dogs on the trail. To be safe, it's always best to keep your dog leashed up while on the path. {alertSuccess}

  • Bridal Wreath Falls Trail

Dog friendly hiking trails in Tucson, Arizona
Length: 5.7 miles Elevation gain: 334 m Est. 3h 2m Guide

Bridal Wreath Falls Trail is a 9.2 kilometer heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Tucson, Arizona, that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate.

The trail offers something for everyone and includes beautiful scenery, interesting animal and plant life, and the opportunity to take in some of the best views in Southern Arizona!

Bridal Wreath Falls Trail is accessible year-round, and you may drive to the trailhead if you choose.

The parking area for this hike is directly west of the parking lot at Gates Pass, so it will be easy to find.

The trail itself begins on the east side of the pass after a short walk up to where you are facing southwest.

You can see Bridal Wreath Falls from where you park, so keep your eyes open!

If you have come down to southern Arizona for just one thing, I would say that Bridal Wreath Falls should be it. It might not be as big as some waterfalls back home, but there's just something about this place that's different than anywhere else in southern Arizona.

  • Linda Vista Loop Trail

Linda Vista Loop Trail in Tucson, Arizona
Length: 2.2 miles Elevation gain: 130 m  Est. 1h 10m  Guide

The moderate trail is great for hiking running as it features stunning flowers, making it a popular tourist attraction for people visiting Tucson or looking to get out of their homes on a nice day!

In Arizona, people tend to be outside a lot, so the Linda Vista Loop Trail in Tucson is a great place for tourists and residents alike!

The trail has been described as 'breathtaking' and popular with hikers and runners alike.

Enjoy some picturesque views of cacti and flowers on this moderate 3.5-kilometer loop!

A couple of rocks may need to be maneuvered around, but nothing too strenuous-however keep an eye out for loose rocks that may roll into you while hiking or running!

It's essential to bring water when hiking anywhere-but it's especially true in desert areas like the trail in Tucson.

It's also worth noting that there are no trash cans or dog poops on this trail. So make sure to take your trash with you when you leave!

  • Hidden Canyon Bowen Loop Trail

Hidden Canyon Bowen Loop Trail in Tucson, Arizona
Length: 2.0 miles Elevation gain: 108 m  Est. 1h 3m  Guide

Hidden Canyon Bowen Loop Trail (3.2km) is a moderately-trafficked trail that features beautiful wildflowers rated moderate.

This trail brings you to the site of an old abandoned orchard filled with blooming cactus, wildflowers, and young fruit trees.

Enjoy picturesque views in all directions where granite boulders sit on top of rolling grasslands with native desert vegetation like ocotillo, palo verde, cholla, and prickly pear cactus dotting the landscape.

There are many good opportunities for birding with plentiful desert wildlife like western diamondback rattlesnakes, black-tailed jackrabbits, kangaroo rats, and cottontail rabbits hopping around. 

You may also spot Gila monsters (Arizona's only poisonous lizard) sunbathing on the rock formations throughout the loop trail.

However, this is an incredibly diverse desert landscape with over 200 birds,  55 mammals, and over 100 species of reptiles that call these mountains home, so you never know what you might see!

Many hikers frequent this area year-round, but it gets bustling when the wildflowers bloom during the spring. This hike takes about 2 to 4 hours, depending on how long you want to stay at the site of the old abandoned orchard.

Hard Tucson Hikes

  • Wasson Peak via Sweetwater Trail

Wasson Peak via Sweetwater Trail in Tucson, Arizona
Length: 9.3miles Elevation gain: 638 m • Est. 5h 10m  Guide

Wasson Peak via Sweetwater Trail is a 15.0 kilometer heavily trafficked out and back trail near Tucson, Arizona, featuring beautiful wildflowers.

This moderate to strenuous day hike begins at the summit of Wasson Peak, with views of Tucson's western desert landscape.

A popular destination for hikers looking to escape the summer heat in the city below, this mountain offers an experience in high-altitude air all year round.

The summit of the mountain is a great place for a picnic and offers fantastic views of Tucson.

In addition to spectacular views of Tucson from the summit, Wasson Peak contains trails frequented by wildlife such as javelinas, bighorn sheep, California Condors, and golden eagles.

Take caution to avoid contact with poison ivy, oak trees, and cacti.

This area doesn't see as much traffic as some other trails in Arizona, making it an ideal choice for those who like to hike on less busy trails.

Pro tip: Make sure to download a GPS map of this trail and bring a compass or a GPS device. {alertSuccess}

  • Blackett's Ridge Trail

Blackett's Ridge Trail in Tucson, Arizona
Length: 5.7 miles Elevation gain: 542 m  Est. 3h 30m  Guide

Blackett's Ridge Trail is a 9.2 kilometer heavily trafficked out and back trail near Tucson, Arizona.

The hike has beautiful wildflowers and is rated as difficult. The best time to hike the trail is October until May, as the summer heat can be unbearable.

The trail begins at  Catalina State Park, where you can find all the required amenities for a day hike. 
Multiple trails branch off of Blackett's Ridge Trail, but hikers are encouraged to stay on the ridge trail. Pets are welcome on leashes, so this is a family-friendly hike as well!

The beauty of this hike is the views you get of Tucson, Catalina Foothills, and even the Tortolita Mountains.

The only downside of this hike is there are no water fountains or restrooms onsite. Make sure to bring lots of water and pack out all trash!

If you are looking for a strenuous day hike in Tucson, Blackett's Ridge Trail is an excellent choice!

  • Pontatoc Ridge Trail

Pontatoc Ridge Trail- Tucson, Arizona
Length: 4.1 miles Elevation gain: 429 m Est. 2h 36m  Guide

Pontatoc Ridge Trail is 6.6 kilometers in length with an average hike time of 6 hours due to the terrain being rated difficult. It is heavily trafficked from April to July, closed in August due to monsoon thunderstorms.

The Trail is located in the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson, Arizona, and west of Oracle, Arizona, on Mount Lemmon. It can be accessed most easily by taking Sunrise Road to Mica Mountain road (a dirt road) that leads up to the trailhead.

Many wildlife species call this area home, including javelina – wild pigs – and a variety of birdlife.

The Trail itself is fairly easy to follow and well-marked with numerous signs. The signs are broken into three sections by color. Sections 1, 2 & 3 have five-way trail intersections that may seem confusing to some folks until they realize the signage is color-coded and these intersections are notated on your map.
The ridge itself is covered with large boulders lined up along its edge for most of its length.

The hike itself can take anywhere from 4-6 hours due to its difficult rating, but it's worth exploring.

  • Maiden Pools Trail

Maiden Pools Trail- Tucson, Arizona
Length: 5.6 miles Elevation gain: 418 m  Est. 3h 11m  Guide

Maiden Pools is a 9.0 km out-and-back trail located near Tucson, Arizona, United States.
The trail is rated as difficult because of the elevation change and rugged terrain.

It's not for the light-hearted hiker, but those interested in challenging themselves are rewarded with equally rewarding views.

The trailhead is located on the edge of Saguaro National Park East. The entrance to the park is about 10 miles east of downtown Tucson.

Maiden Pools can be found about 1.5 miles from the trailhead. A large parking lot is located at the Saguaro National Park East Entrance, which gives you a great starting point for your hike.

Please note that this is a desert climate, and it's important to stay hydrated while exploring either within or outside of the park boundaries.

So, if you find yourself in Tucson and are looking for a challenging hike, Maiden Pools is for you.

  • Chiva Falls Trail

Chiva waterfall in Arizona
Length: 8.5 miles Elevation gain: 293 m  Est. 4h 7m  Guide

The Chiva Falls Hiking Trail is an easy to moderate trail in Tucson, AZ. This trail is an out-and-back that will lead you to Chiva Falls.

The waterfall is about 100 feet in height and is accessible via a bridge that crosses over the clear pool of water at the base of the falls.

There are several other more minor falls along this trail, which can be explored by climbing up the rocks near the base of the falls.

The Chiva Falls Hiking Trail is a difficult hike because it is steep and rocky. It starts by climbing through a dense forest and then climbs up a rocky outcrop. The trail then descends to the canyon.

Some spots have deep mud, but you will know they are coming up because there will be guys with shovels to get you out of the mud (for a small fee).

If you are unsure of your skill level, speak to a ranger at the Visitor Center before starting the hike.

Although it is difficult in parts, the views at the top of this hike are incredible! You can see for miles, and it is a great place to have a picnic if you pack something to eat.


What are you waiting for? Start exploring the amazing hiking trails in Tucson, Arizona. We have compiled a list of what we think are the best hikes near Tucson that will help get your adventure spirit flowing through your veins. Get out there and explore great America!

Don't forget to share your emotion about hiking. You'll need it for the whole experience. Happy Hiking!

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