Tucson area trails/site recommendations


Jan 11, 2018
I'm heading down to Tucson to meet some friends for winter break. We're staying in N Tucson. Any trail suggestions (up to 20 miles) or interesting/unusual sites in and around Tucson or on the way from St George? I've done Soldier/La Milagrosa Loop, Romero Canyon trail to canyon proper, and Sabino Canyon (not that I wouldn't repeat them). As far as sites go, I've been to Titan missile silo, Arcosanti, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Mission San Xavier del Bac, and Sedona (for hiking and climbing), I pulled a few routes off the trail runners' site:
  • Sabino/Bear Canyon loop
  • Sabino/Esperero Canyon
  • Finger Rock/Pima Canyon loop (w/ bike shuttle)
Looked through Atlas Obscura already. The one thing that looked sort of interesting, the kinetic sculpture museum in Tucson, is closed for a relo. I am also thinking of detouring through Jerome.

Thanks in advance.
Peppersauce Cave was recently put in my list. There's also the Rincon Mountains. You could summit it from the Tucson side in one day. It's a bit south, but Wrightson is a good summit and beautiful hike. Have you ever gone to hikearizona.com?

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Thanks @adv_trev. I saw a few routes on that site come up in search results, but haven't yet thoroughly explored it. That cave looks very cool.
Yes, @fossana . our favorite in Tucson is the Hugh Norris trail to Wasson peak (I did a trip report on that one). You park in West Saguaro NP and hike up via Hugh Norris trail to Wasson peak with views over Tuscon and many mountain areas. Alternatively you can park outside the Park (bottom of King Canyon trail) and hike up via Goulds Mine trail to Hugh Norris and then Wasson peak, but you would miss out some spectacular scenery at the start of the Hugh Norris trail. We have done the hike to Wasson peak via King canyon trail, but it's not as nice as Hugh Norris trail. Start early, the parking lot is small at the bottom of Hugh Norris trail.

Also you might like Tanque verde trail (ridge trail). You can keep going forever.

Madera Canyon (south of Tucson) might be the right challenge for you, with regards to elevation change and milage.
Mt Wrigthson or like.

We also like Chiricahua national monument (did a trip report on the big loop hike)- it's southeast of Tucson, maybe too far away, but it's remote and pretty cool to hike there.
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Great ideas, @Titans!

@fossana - did you ever make it to Tucson?
The Hugh Norris trail to Wasson Peak is still our favorite.
We did part of the Tanque Verde Ridge trail this morning. Its starts at an elevation of 3100ft, so the Saguaro scenery is nice initially, though the Saguaro are younger at that location, than on the West side of town. We turned around after ascending 1800 ft, about 3.5 miles up on the ridge. The scenery gets very grassy and not as interesting as the initial approach. The nice thing about that ridge trail was a surprising amount of shade early morning. Great while ascending!

Likewise in Madera Canyon there is plenty of elevation gain and milage to do, but it starts at about 5,000 ft, so you will NOT be hiking next to the Saguaro.
Let me know what trails you liked in Tucson.
I did @Titans. I climbed on Mt Lemmon Sat, attempted to do the Pima Canyon/Finger Rock loop on Sun (but my friend barfed and we had to turn around), then did Bear Canyon to Sabino Canyon on Mon.

Thanks for the tips. I'm sure I'll be back.
I did @Titans. I climbed on Mt Lemmon Sat, attempted to do the Pima Canyon/Finger Rock loop on Sun (but my friend barfed and we had to turn around), then did Bear Canyon to Sabino Canyon on Mon.

Thanks for the tips. I'm sure I'll be back.
Yah, that Finger rock loop seemed hard! There is tons of hiking to do in Tucson, many don’t know.
Incredible to hike there in January and February too. We liked the 70F the past 5 days and we even saw wildflowers. All very nice, because soon we will be in the cloudy, damp or icy northeast weather again.
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