Tucson offers countless opportunities to catch a trail and walk or run, have a picnic, or just take in some gorgeous scenery. Mount Lemmon is found here, which offers the highest peak you will find in the Santa Catalina Mountains. Also, in western Tucson, you have the opportunity to see Sentinel Peak; it is made of volcanic rocks representing various types of volcanic activity. There is a lot of beautiful land to take in here.
If you have the urge to become one with nature, this is where you go. It is nestled in the foothills of the Catalina Mountains and offers a ton of hiking trails that range from easy to strenuous. Extreme athletes may choose to climb to one of the summits for breathtaking views. The 6.2-mile Blackett’s Ridge Trail is highly recommended and will take you all the way to the ridge between Bear Canyon and Sabina Canyon. Bring a lot of water, and pack a jacket. If the sun goes down before you make it back, the canyon can get very chilly.
Catalina State Park
It will only take one visit to Catalina State Park and you will be hooked. It offers 5,500 acres of canyon, foothills, and streams that invite camping, hiking, picnicking and bird-watching. In fact, more than 150 bird species call this park their home. There is also an equestrian center with plenty of trailer parking, so you can bring your horse for a ride. There are 120 camp sites and 95 have water and electric hookups. Trails range from 1 to 10.5 miles. If you are in good shape, the Sutherland Trail and Romero Canyon Trail are both intense and take you through riparian canyon and desert terrain to cool natural pools.
On the east side of the city you find this park that offers North America’s largest cacti. It is in the heart of the Sonoran desert so wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. There are a few new water stations throughout the park too where you can refill your bottle. If you want to trek the backcountry and plan on staying overnight, you will need to obtain a permit.
Tucson Mountain Park
At approximately 20,000 square miles, this is one of the largest natural resources that is owned by a local government. There are 60 miles of share trails that welcome hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians. Some are very challenging but award you with breathtaking views. There are three camp sites and picnic areas and an abundance of wildlife viewing opportunities.
There are a few different paths here, one of which is paved and well-lit, making it an ideal spot to walk your dog at dusk when it is cooler. There is also plenty of shade along the trail, which you will appreciate the first time you are here during the middle of the day. This path does get busy at times, so please stay to your right unless you are passing. Also, make sure your iPod is not turned up so loud that you can’t hear others alerting you that they are passing on your left. Don’t miss the zoo!
Rillito River Park
The locals consider this a hidden gem in the city. The paved path runs about 12.5 miles, and there are water fountains, garbage cans and restrooms along the route. There are also poop bag stations to make sure you clean up after your four-legged friend. The path can get crowded, but you will notice that you see a lot of the same people every time you come. It is very rare that you ever see a tourist here.