Sharing my top picks for the best hiking trails in Tucson.
Hi hi! Happy Christmas week and hope that you all are having a lovely morning. We had a great weekend. It was Elf night with friends, we decorated gingerbread houses, and I taught a barre class. We’re headed on a little staycation later this week, and I’m definitely looking forward to it.
For today’s post, I wanted to share some of my favorite hiking trails in Tucson! We are in the middle of hiking season (I think the best weather is from late October until early May), and my top trails have been packed with locals and tourists, enjoying the gorgeous Tucson scenery. I’ve been a fan of hiking for many years, but really fell more in love with it over the past few years, because it was one of the only things we could do. We used the opportunity to explore some of our favorite trails, we visited Sedona a few times as a family, and the kids fell in love with hiking, too.
It’s become one of our favorite family adventures.
I wanted to post some of the best Tucson hiking trails, plus some of my tips for hiking with kids.
Best hiking trails in Tucson
Sabino Canyon is the destination, but within Sabino Canyon, there are tons of trails. If you are a newbie or it’s your first time in Tucson, you can stay on the main tram road, which is about 7.3 miles out and back. It’s paved and heavily-populated. Within the canyon, you can use All Trails to discover so many different trails depending on length and your hiking level. If you want something more rustic but still populated, you can do the Bear Canyon trail.
For longer/sportier hikes, try Phoneline, Blackett’s, and Seven Falls (pack a lunch and lots of water for this one).
If you have kids with you, I highly recommend Bear Canyon to Sabino Dam. It’s short and there a ton of water for the kids (and adults) to wade and play.
I’ve only ever done the main Finger Rock trail, but it’s become one of my favorites. The scenery is gorgeous, the views are amazing, and it’s not super challenging or rocky. It’s pretty kid-friendly, but keep in mind that there are more creatures here. I’m from Tucson and had never seen a gila monster in the wild until this past year; I saw two on this trail within a few weeks of each other!
Tumamoc Hill is a large hill by campus and is 3.1 miles total (an out-and-back). The first half is a steep incline and when you reach the top, you have sweeping views of the entire city. This is one of my favorite recs for visitors because the views are majestic, it’s not super long, and then it’s a short drive to the Mercado San Augustin for Presta coffee and Mexican donuts (from Estrella).
Agua Caliente trail
This one is an 8-mile out-and-back that’s relatively challenging with beautiful views. A major perk: dogs are allowed on this trail (on a leash!). This is a rarity in Tucson, so it makes this trail pretty special.
Ventana Canyon Trail
This one is right by the Loews Ventana Canyon resort. It has lots of ups and downs, but great views, and pretty accessible for all levels. If it has rained recently, you may have to cross through water. My Tucson insider tip: do this on a Sunday, and book the Brews and Blues brunch at Loews afterwards. You’re welcome.
Tips for hiking with kids:
– Get them kids’ Camelbaks, and encourage them to wear them, even if you’re only planning on a short hike. When the kids wear these, it’s like they have a superpower and it’s been over a year and the novelty hasn’t worn off. They LOVE these things and feel like legit hikers when they wear them. (It’s also very handy to not have to carry both of their water bottles).
– Hiking shoes may be worth the investment. I find that many kids’ sneakers are slippery on the bottom and don’t do well with climbing or steeper areas. I’ve found all of the kids’ hiking shoes on Amazon (these ones are excellent) and Nordstrom Rack.
– Go out with zero expectations. Since the girls were babies, I’ve told myself that a walk or hike may last 5 minute or may last 2 hours. Whatever happens, it’s ok. They ALWAYS surprise me. These kids have climbed super steep areas (like Camelback Mountain and Birthing Cave in Sedona), gone through caves (in Boulder), and have hiked for many hours with plenty of water and snacks. The first part of the hike is always a mixed bag (“This is boring,” “When is it over?”) and then they never want to leave.
– Go with friends! If your kids are apprehensive about hiking or you’re trying to build excitement for them, invite some of their friends to join in. This one is always a winner, and something we try to do over breaks from school.
So, tell me, friends: what are your favorite hiking trails near you? Spread the love in the comments!
What’s your favorite hiking destination? I DREAM about going back to Mountain Trek. It was absolutely magical.
Have a great day!