5 Terrific Tucson Area Hiking Trails

June 30, 2016

Walking is one of the best natural means of getting exercise. Many doctors and fitness experts applaud the benefits of getting outside to take a stroll and get fresh air or kick it up a notch and power walk stress and extra pounds away.
But sometimes a walk in the park just won’t do. You want to explore.
Tucson and our surrounding areas offer ample opportunities to do more than just go walking. Abundant hiking trails woven into the mountains offer a more challenging workout while you get back to nature and reap the healthful benefit of peace of mind and gorgeous scenery. Back to nature trips are a convenient, short drive from home in our desert city.
Rub on your favorite sunblock and grab your wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, hiking gear, and bottled water supply! The mountains and trails beckon you, and you will definitely want to visit these favorite hiking trails:

Sweetwater Preserve

You can ride a horse, take your dog or just go for a hike in this area. If you are looking for more solitude, weekdays are generally best as weekends are very populated.  With 700 acres located on the east side of the Tucson Mountains, this trail offers a great place for mountain biking as well, so you will find all types of outdoor enthusiasts in the preserve.
Don’t get lost! The trailhead is at the southern end of Tortolita off Camino del Cerro at exit 252, 3 miles west of I-10. Take a look at this link to find a Sweetwater Preserve Map from Pima County Parks and Recreation:  http://1.usa.gov/290OGlO

Mount Wrightson

Head just south of Tucson to the Santa Rita Mountains to experience beautiful, high-altitude hiking in the Coronado National Forest Wilderness area. A challenging and gorgeous climb near Madera Canyon, but be choosy as to when you set out to conquer this hike. The best time to go is spring or fall, but if you are raring to go now, you will need to get up with the birds and hit to road to start early, as you will be in for one hot climb. Mount Wrightson is the highest peak close by Tucson, with an elevation of 9,453 feet above sea level. Take a friend!

Mount Kimball

The Finger Rock Trail to Mount Kimball is considered one serious climb by frequent hikers, so it’s best to either have experience or take an experienced hiker with you to tackle this one. Almost from the beginning of the trailhead, you start to climb, and it doesn’t let up until 4,200 feet altitude. If you’re looking for elevation gain and splendid mountain views, you have to give this one a shot.

Aspen Loop

At a distance of 3.7 miles with an elevation gain/loss of about 700 feet, this trail, located at the top of Mount Lemmon in the Catalinas, is an easy hike minus the natural windedness from high altitude, but you will have plenty of company here since this trail is very popular. Take Tanque Verde Road and turn left onto the Catalina Highway, then drive all the way to Summerhaven. Continue on North Sabino Canyon Parkway and vie for a parking spot at the end of the road. Up high is the place to be when temperatures are baking the lower elevations in the valley. A detailed map of the trailhead is provided.

Tumamoc Hill

The neighborhood's ultimate incline! This butte is not only Tucson’s outdoor Nordic Track for fitness lovers, but also rich with the history of the Hohokam people, who inhabited the area about 1,300 years ago, and a bastion for scientific research. Just west of A Mountain, it is home to radio, TV, and public service transmitters. Beside the mountain are a prehistoric garden and over 460 petroglyphs. Enjoy paved hiking with some variable incline grades, as you will gain 600 feet of elevation in just 1.5 miles.
If you want to take your dog along, it’s best to find out which areas permit them before you leash him up and make a trek to a trail.  Click here to learn more: 
Plan to leave early if you are going on a long trip to avoid dangerous UV rays and excessive heat! Happy hiking!


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