Best Easy Day Hikes Tucson  by Bruce Grubbs

Best Easy Day Hikes: Tucson Guide Book

by Bruce Grubbs (Falcon Guides)
Best Easy Day Hikes Tucson  by Bruce Grubbs
Best Easy Day Hikes Tucson includes concise descriptions and detailed maps for twenty easy-to-follow hikes in and around Tucson, Arizona. Discover a region of diverse scenery and natural splendors—including a beautiful cactus forest; the Sendero Esperanza Trail, a classic example of the Sonoran Desert’s lush vegetation; and the famous Seven Falls, a series of seasonal cascades in Bear Canyon.

© 2017 Bruce Grubbs/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Best Easy Day Hikes: Tucson" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 20.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 20.

The Aspen Trail is a short but very scenic day hike to a viewpoint overlooking the rugged Wilderness of Rocks area and the Pusch Ridge Wilderness. This is another cool hike during the summer, and a good place to see fall color as the aspens change in October. There is an exceptionally good viewpoint on the small hill just southwest of the trail at 1.6 miles. From this vantage, you can see much of the well-named Wilderness of Rocks to the southwest. From the trailhead, start the hike on the Marshall Gulch Trail, which ascends Marshall Gulch west past Huntsman Spring to Marshall Saddle and a multiple-trail junction. 50 Best Easy Day Hikes TucsonTake the leftmost trail, the Aspen Trail, which heads south around Marshall Peak. Continue the hike on the Aspen Trail, which heads east as it continues around Marshall Peak, then descends a ridge to return to the Marshall Gulch Trailhead.
Mount Lemmon, AZ - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 3
Using the Douglas Spring Trail, this hike takes you to a seasonal waterfall in the foothills of the Rincon Mountains. The falls are most likely to be running during the spring after a wet winter. The falls are seasonal, and the best chances to see them running are after snowmelt in March and April, or after a thunderstorm during late summer. From the Douglas Spring Trailhead, hike east on the Douglas Spring Trail across the Sonoran Desert plain. Numerous trails branch right in this section; stay left on the Douglas Spring Trail at all of them. The easy section ends as the trail turns southeast and begins climbing a ridge in the foothills of the Rincon Mountains. Look back frequently for good views of the Tucson valley and, to the northwest, the Santa Catalina Mountains.
Tucson, AZ - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 5.2
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Brown Mountain is an easy hike, located in Tucson Mountain Park, along the top of a desert ridge with 50-mile views. Although the mountain is small, it is a classic sample of the delightful mix of vegetation that makes the Sonoran Desert the lushest of the four North American deserts. Head south toward the east end of Brown Mountain, staying right at two unsigned trail junctions. After the second junction, the trail turns sharply northwest and starts to climb the east slopes of Brown Mountain. As you climb, the views expand. Visible to the southeast, at the foot of the mountain, is the Brown Mountain Picnic Area and, beyond it, Gilbert Ray Campground. Once on the ridge crest, the trail more or less follows the crest northwest. There is a great variety of saguaros along the trail, including a number of young saguaros only about 5 or 6 feet tall.
Tucson, AZ - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 3
This is a cool hike through pine, fir, and aspen forest high on the northeast slopes of the Santa Catalina Mountains. It offers a welcome respite from the desert heat and is also pleasant in the fall, when the aspens and other deciduous plants are changing color. There is also a seasonal waterfall in the drainage below the trail. This spot makes a good destination for an out-and-back hike.
Mount Lemmon, AZ - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 6.2
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This trail starts from the scenic loop drive and wanders north through gentle desert terrain past magnificent stands of saguaro cactus. The first portion of the trail, inside the scenic loop drive, is open to mountain bikers. Look for several examples of dead and fallen saguaros, which reveal their inner structure. Unlike trees, saguaros are supported by a ring of woody, individual ribs just under the outer skin of the plant. The interior consists of a moist pulp, which is protected by the ribs. Unlike some desert plants, saguaros do not use deep groundwater to survive dry periods. Instead, these huge cacti have a shallow root system that collects water rapidly after rains. The entire plant expands as it stores water and gradually contracts as internal moisture is used.
Tucson, AZ - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 8.4
The David Yetman Trail passes through varied Sonoran Desert terrain at the southern end of the Tucson Mountains. The trail is in Tucson Mountain Park. This hike requires a car shuttle; you’ll need to drop a second vehicle at Yetman Trailhead (East). Starting from the west trailhead, the David Yetman Trail heads southeast toward a pass. At the pass, the Golden Gate Trail merges from the right; stay left and follow the Yetman Trail down to the flats at the base of Golden Gate Mountain. The trail was named for David Yetman, who served on the Pima County Board of Supervisors from 1977 to 1988. Yetman was a strong defender of the environment, and the trail was named to honor him after his retirement.
Tucson, AZ - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 5.8
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This hike uses the Finger Rock Canyon Trail to reach a seasonal spring in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness. The outing is especially enjoyable during or just after a wet winter, when a seasonal stream fills the normally dry wash. Once in Finger Rock Canyon, the trail turns northeast and generally follows the bed of the canyon, passing seasonal Finger Rock Spring and seasonal pools along the way. This idyllic spot is the destination for our hike.
Tucson, AZ - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 2
This is an easy and gorgeous walk through Sonoran Desert foothills to an old dam site. Before the Rincon Mountains were part of Saguaro National Park, ranchers occupied the area and improved many natural water sources in order to get water for their homes and their cattle.
Tucson, AZ - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 3.4
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This popular hike follows the main crest of the Tucson Mountains for an exceptionally scenic hike to the highest peak in the range. Named for a Tohono O’odham police chief, the Hugh Norris Trail starts from Bajada Loop Drive and climbs east up a small, unnamed canyon in the Tucson Mountains. A few switchbacks lead to a saddle, and after passing through another saddle, the trail climbs around the north side of a small peak.
Tucson, AZ - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 7.8
This trail is an alternative route to popular Wasson Peak using the King Canyon and Sweetwater Trails. This hike takes you up the south slopes of the Tucson Mountains, then up the very scenic east ridge of Wasson Peak to the summit. Two trails leave the parking area; head northeast on the King Canyon Trail, an old mining road. In several places you can see elaborate cut stonework done during the construction of this road.
Tucson, AZ - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 6
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Although this hike is well northwest of the Tucson Mountains, it should not be missed. It follows the Hunter Trail to the top of Picacho Peak, the spectacular rocky summit adjacent to I-10 northwest of Tucson. Rising 1,500 vertical feet above the surrounding desert floor, 3,320-foot Picacho Peak is an isolated, 22-million-year-old volcanic mountain situated midway between the Gila River and Tucson. This is the site of Arizona’s only Civil War battle.
Picacho, AZ - Hiking - Trail Length: 4
This hike leads you through a beautiful saguaro cactus forest in Sonoran Desert hills, using the Ironwood Forest and Picture Rocks Wash Trails. These trails are in the northern portion of the Tucson Mountains, in Saguaro National Park West. This easy hike through rolling Sonoran Desert foothills starts out on the Cam-Boh Trail. Cross Picture Rocks Road and follow the trail down the wash. Almost immediately, the Ringtail Trail forks left; stay right on the Cam-Boh Trail, which parallels the nearby Picture Rocks Road. Next, turn left on the Ironwood Forest Trail, which heads south and climbs gradually through the low desert foothills. You are walking through the Lower Sonoran life zone, characterized by saguaro, cholla, and barrel cactus; green-barked paloverde trees; and creosote bush. Watch for small saguaros nearly hidden in the shade of their nurse trees, usually paloverde.
Tucson, AZ - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 5.4
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This scenic route takes you into the rugged Pusch Ridge Wilderness, in the Front Range of the Santa Catalina Mountains. Although the hike starts in the outskirts of Tucson, which has now spread right to the base of the mountains, a few minutes’ walking takes you from the sights and sounds of the city into a wilderness canyon. During the spring after snowmelt, the creek is often running, and later in the year there will still be seasonal pools, which are popular destinations during the hot months.
Tucson, AZ - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 4
This is an easy walk to a viewpoint overlooking the rugged south slopes of Tanque Verde Ridge, the long west ridge of the Rincon Mountains that culminates in the 8,612-foot summit of Mica Mountain. This easy hike in the Sonoran Desert foothills starts on the Hope Camp Trail, which is popular with horseback riders. Several varieties of cholla cactus grow in the foothills of the Rincon Mountains. One of the most common is teddy bear cholla, a fuzzy-looking yellow cactus with many branches that grows up to 6 feet tall. It looks cuddly, but it’s best to keep your distance. The stems and joints are covered with hundreds of razor-sharp spines, each tipped with microscopic barbs. If an animal or human is unlucky enough to brush up against the cholla, the spines cling fiercely to skin or clothing.
Tucson, AZ - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 1.8
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This hike leads to a collection of popular seasonal pools in Romero Canyon, starting from Catalina State Park and heading into the Pusch Ridge Wilderness in the Coronado National Forest. Seasonal pools such as these tend to occur in deep canyons where the additional shade helps keep the water from evaporating. In desert mountain ranges, such temporary pools are important water sources for wildlife, which may come from miles around. Hikers can use the water as well but should observe a few commonsense courtesies. Take only the water you need, and use it sparingly for all purposes except drinking. Never bathe in a pool or pollute it with soap or food scraps.
Tucson, AZ - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 4.6
This is a dramatic hike up Sabino Canyon and its West Fork to Hutch’s Pool in the Front Range of the Santa Catalina Mountains and the Pusch Ridge Wilderness. The pools are a popular seasonal destination and are most likely to have water in the spring or early summer after a wet winter. From the last shuttle stop in Sabino Canyon, hike north on the Sabino Canyon Trail, which climbs 0.1 mile to meet the Phoneline Trail. Stay left and follow the Sabino Canyon Trail north along the east side of Sabino Canyon to Sabino Basin. Sabino Basin, the confluence of the East and West Forks of Sabino Canyon, is a popular camp spot and the start of several trails that head into the Santa Catalina high country to the north.
Tucson, AZ - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 7.4
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This pleasant hike takes you through gorgeous saguaro forest to a saddle on the rugged Tucson Mountains. This point on the west ridge of Wasson Peak offers a great view of the deserts and mountains far to the west. This hike takes you across desert flats through fine stands of saguaro cactus. Look for holes in the saguaros, well above the ground, as you walk. Several different birds and animals make their home by hollowing out these holes. After the cactus dies, falls, and decays, you can sometimes find the intact nests, which are known as saguaro “boots.”
Tucson, AZ - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 3
This walk leads to famous Seven Falls, a series of seasonal cascades in Bear Canyon, which uses the Bear Canyon Trail in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness. As with other seasonal streams in the Santa Catalina Mountains, the falls will be at their best in the spring after a wet winter. To explore the falls, leave the trail at the start of this climb and follow the streambed upstream. The falls are at their best after the spring snowmelt, which is usually late March or into April. Late-summer thunderstorms can also send large amounts of water through the canyon.
Tucson, AZ - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 4
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The Signal Hill Trail is a short walk to a hill with a 360-degree view of the northern Tucson Mountains, as well as fine examples of ancient petroglyphs. This very short trail leads to the top of a small hill with a fine collection of petroglyphs. There are two main types of rock art: pictographs, which are painted onto the rock, and petroglyphs such as these, which are pecked or carved into the rock. Although some people have the impression that petroglyphs are casual doodling, stone is actually a difficult medium to work, somewhat harder than doodling on a pad of paper.
Tucson, AZ - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.4
This long day hike leads from Mount Lemmon through the scenic Wilderness of Rocks and the Pusch Ridge Wilderness. Wilderness of Rocks takes its name from the many granite boulders, domes, cliffs, and other rock formations found in the area south of Mount Lemmon’s summit. From the parking area, head west on the Mount Lemmon Trail, which skirts around the south side of the fenced Mount Lemmon Observatory and then heads southwest, descending on a broad ridge crest. You’ll pass through Lemmon Park, which is a small meadow set in stands of ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, limber pine, and white fir, and then pass the junction with the Quartzite Spring Trail, where a powerline also meets the trail.
Mount Lemmon, AZ - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 7.4
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