We opted to get away this winter for a short road trip to Tucson, AZ. I had a long list of trails to explore, but they had a record season of snow, rain, and tremendous winds. However, we did squeeze in four hikes that surprised and exceeded our expectations leaving us in awe of Arizona’s incredibly scenic trails!
I am sharing this for those who like to explore beyond our beautiful Colorado.
KING CANYON TRAIL – SAGUARO NATIONAL PARK
Tucson to Saguaro National Park (West) – 18-25 miles
King Canyon Trail to Wasson Peak in Saguaro NP (Tucson District)
Saguaro National Park has over 40 miles of hiking trails surrounded by Saguaro cacti. I was stunned at how the desert floor was packed with various cacti and so much of it. Truly a desert experience and beautiful. With so many trails, it offers a hike for any skill level.
We did have trouble following trail signs: I mention this because others did too. So it wasn’t just us!
Our Route: Begin on Kings Canyon Trail. Take the Sendero Esperanza Trail to the Hugh Norris Trail junction on the ridgeline. Follow the Hugh Norris trail for 1.9 miles to Wasson Peak. (the highest peak in the Park). 4,687′
Moderate – Approx 8 Miles RT
There are two separate areas of Saguaro National Park: West (Tucson District) and East (Rincon Mountains).
SABINO CANYON RECREATION AREA
Coronado National Forest – Santa Catalina Ranger District
Phoneline Trail Loop
Wow, Sabino Canyon at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains was gorgeous and fun.
We made two trails in the Canyon, and both were phenomenal.
1. Phoneline Trail, which was quiet and not crowded with enchanting views while hiking high along the cliff edge. A slight incline with many rocks and stunning cacti peppering the canyon walls. To return, we did a steep downhill and icy water crossing to walk back on Sabino Canyon Road and made a loop.
8.4 mile loop – moderate – family friendly
Bear Creek Canyon Trail to Seven Falls
2. Seven Falls Trail, We started on Bear Canyon Trail and went to Seven Falls Trail. Lots of icy water crossings to waterfalls deep into the canyon. Sensational, beautiful canyon, and fun!
(sadly, my battery died and I failed to get photos)
Very crowded and popular!
8.3 miles out and back
6 water crossings
Three Items we were happy to have with us visiting Arizona!
CHIRICAHUA NATIONAL MONUMENT
Tucson to Chiricahua National Monument – 119.6 miles (1 hr, 56 min)
Heart of Rocks Loop
Chiricahua National Monument is one of the most fascinating areas we have ever hiked. Who knew? This would be so surprising and amazing. One animal I wanted to spot but didn’t was the white-nosed Coati. I had never heard of it before and was intrigued.
We loved this area, and there were numerous trails to choose from. We chose Heart of Rocks Loop to be inside the spectacular rock formations. The hike starts at the Visitor Center and meanders through pine woodland and incredible views of rock formations along the canyon walls.
Upon reaching the Heart of Rocks Trail, our mouths dropped. It is beyond imagination. Towering rock formations surround us, and the trail gets adventurous!
Make sure to drive to the top of the road at the Monument and take in the unbelievable views.
7.5 miles loop – Strenuous
Arizona Nature Set includes three Pocket Naturalist Guides to Arizona, Trees & Wildflowers, Birds, and Wildlife.
SIGHTSEEING – TWO FAVORITES
Who knew it would be raining buckets on our mini vacation in February? So, we filled in those days with sightseeing.
San Xavier Del Bac Mission
San Xavier Del Bac Mission, founded in 1672, is a National Historic Landmark and the only surviving mission in Arizona. Tours are available and engaging. The history, the interior, and the grounds are captivating.
1950 W San Xavier Rd, Tucson, AZ 85746
Tucson, AZ to Tombstone, AZ – 74 miles, approx 1 hr, 15 min
The Town to Tuff to Die
Tombstone, Arizona, is still the Wild West. It was cold, pouring rain with high winds, so our visit was quick. However, we did walk the town, visit unique shops, and took in a “Shoot Out at the O.K. Corral.”
The Longhorn Restaurant was delicious!
It would be easy to spend a lot of time in Tombstone.
DRIVING TO TUCSON, AZ
Petrified Forest National Park, Holbrook, AZ
We took an unexpected side trip minutes from the road to Tucson — Petrified Forest National Park.
Petrified Forest National Park is a mixture of overlooks and short trails, each different from another! We drove through the park stopping at everything and taking a peek. Our favorites were the Petroglyphs, the Painted Desert views, the Agate Bridge, Kachina Point, Long Logs & Agate House, and walking the Giant Logs Trail. Unfortunately, we missed a few. It was remarkably chilly and windy, so prepare for the different seasons!
There is much more to do here if wanting to spend 1/2 a day or more. But first, the Rainbow Forest Museum or the Visitor Center is a must, and also where you can pick up a driving guide.
Suppose you desire to explore more. > Petrified Forest National Park Map & Illustrated Trails Guide.
Our week in Tucson is vivid in our memories. We still talk about how relaxing and refreshing it was. Something about the desert!
Until next time……
Adventures near Phoenix, AZ
Scottsdale, Arizona, in January is a treat, and all the hikes and adventures we found were invigorating! Hiking trails and Wild Horses. One week and I knew we would be back again!
Kanab, Utah, stole our hearts. We zipped out of Colorado to explore another area of southern Utah in late October before the snow encompassed Colorado’s high passes. After basing ourselves in Kanab, UT, we had five days of a beautiful, adventure-filled vacation! Three trails that took our breath away that any avid hiker would love. Plus, several notable smaller hikes & tourist attractions worth mentioning.
Note: Many of the links are affiliate links which means I receive a very small commission (at no added cost to you).