Saturday, March 19, 2022

4 Hiking Trails to Try In Tucson

I had no idea when I moved to Tucson, a city in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, that hiking was a popular activity.  But although it’s too hot in the summer months, which nowadays generally means April through September, it’s cool enough the rest of the year to enjoy walking the numerous scenic trails in and around Tucson.  I’ve hiked four trails on the northern edge of the city that offer a variety of experiences and will describe them below.

Photos of 4 hiking trails with title text overlaid on top

Big Wash Trail

Located in Oro Valley, this trail is 2.4 miles long.  It’s a very flat trail, with wide open vistas at the beginning that soon turn into typical desert scrub landscape.  Some sections are paved for cyclists, so you need to stay to the side when walking in those areas.  There is nothing particularly unique about this trail but it’s a nice, easy walk if you’re in the area and looking to get outdoors for some quick exercise.

Photo of beginning of Big Wash Trail
At the start of the Big Wash Trail, February 2021

Photo of cycling path section of Big Wash Trail
One section of the cycling path of the Big Wash Trail, February 2021

Honeybee Trail

Located in Oro Valley, this trail is 2.3 miles long.  You’re walking mostly in or next to a wash and some areas quite sandy.  There is a north trail and a loop trail.  The north trail leads to a couple of boulders with petroglyphs on them and is a popular place to take photos.  The other trail goes through an area filled with cholla cactus, which makes for interesting photographs if you’re so inclined.  This is an easy hike along mostly flat ground.

Photo of petroglyphs on Honeybee Canyon Trail
Petroglphys on Honeybee Canyon Trail, February 2020

Photos of cholla cacti on Honeybee Trail
Cholla on Honeybee Canyon Trail, February 2020

Linda Vista Trail

Located in Oro Valley, this is a 2.2 mile long loop trail.  The first half, ascending in elevation, is somewhat steep and rocky in places until you reach the top.  Going down, the trail isn’t as rocky.  There are nice views of sprawling Tucson at the outset.  This trail may be closed in winter and spring because it’s a habitat for bighorn sheep and they give birth during those months.  There’s another trail you can also hike but I haven’t done that one yet.  This trail is a little closer to Tucson proper and there will be lots of other people out hiking as well.

Photo of Tucson from Linda Vista Loop Trail
View of Tucson from Linda Vista Loop Trail, March 2022

Photo of view near the top of the Linda Vista Loop Trail
Near the top of the Linda Vista Loop Trail, March 2022

Pima Canyon Trail

Located on the edge of Oro Valley, this trail is inside the Coronado National Forest.  The total length is 10.10 miles but I only hiked a few miles of it.  Some parts are fairly steep and rocky but then it descends into an area with a spring and gurgling stream.  I saw minnows when there in March.  Lots of large cottonwood trees provide shade cover.  Hiking out of that section brings you to the more typical Sonoran Desert landscape. This is a popular trail so you’ll encounter many other hikers.  It’s also an area where bighorn sheep live so it may be off-limits during the lambing season.  (For more info about bighorn sheep in Arizona, please click HERE.)

Photo of hikers on the Pima Canyon Trail
Hikers on the Pima Canyon Trail, March 2021

View of spring at Pima Canyon Trail
Trees and spring at Pima Canyon Trail, March 2021

Things to Keep in Mind When Hiking

Here are a few recommendations that will help you stay safe during your hiking adventure in Tucson:
* Even though it might not be summer, it still gets very warm by midday so dress in layers, wear sunscreen and a hat, and bring plenty of water.
* Go early, because although there are parking lots at the trailheads, they are not large and fill up quickly.  I recommend arriving before 9:00am to ensure you get a parking space.
* Don’t wander off the trail!  Not only do you risk getting lost, you might also damage the land.  For the most part, it’s easy to see where the trails are and if you’re not sure, turn around and go back or wait until someone comes along and can point you in the right direction.


According to AllTrails, which is where I got the info about the length of the trails, there are 248 hiking trails in the Tucson area.  I have lots more exploring to do!