It’s no wonder with our year-round blue skies and breathtaking desert landscape that Tucson is a hiker’s paradise. But don’t just take my word on it! I’ve consulted with Loews Ventana Canyon Resort‘s Chief Concierge Donna Owens and Timothy Wertz, to give you the best advice for hitting these favorite local trails.

Photo provided by azutopia.com

Photo provided by azutopia.com

Ventana Canyon Maiden Pools Hike

Lush vegetation and an easy first 30 minutes greets you at the beginning of this hike. It follows the canyon bottom and is bordered on both sides by private property, so please stay on the trail. You’ll pass through the National Forest boundary gate and then stays mostly to the right (East) side of the canyon, crossing the stream bed a few times. Just beyond the last creek crossing, the trail will start to climb out of the creek bottom and will rock step its way toward a large open central canyon ridge. You’ll now switch back and rock step the face of this open ridge to the top.

Look back from the crest and enjoy the views of now far-off Ventana Resort and the east side of Tucson. From this point it is only a short drop to the Maiden Pools, an area of smooth eroded rock with pockets holding water year round. There is really not much reason to go beyond these pools. The trail continues to snake up the canyon until eventually intersecting with Finger Rock Trail. However, most hikers use the Maiden pools as a turnaround point, for a total of approximately 5 miles round trip.

The trail has its own parking lot, adjacent to Loews Ventana Canyon Resort Parking. Convenient right?

Photo provided by azutopia.com

Photo provided by azutopia.com

Seven Falls at Bear Canyon

The only parking for this hike is at Sabino Canyon Recreational area and they will charge $5 cash to park.  From the parking area it is approximately another 2 miles to get to the trailhead and Sabino Canyon offers a shuttle that will take you there for another $5 cash. If you take the shuttle, you need to know the last one taking you back to the parking lot is at 4 PM. If you miss it you will have to walk the extra 2 miles back to the parking lot. Yikes!

This is a fairly moderate hike and, for those runners out there, the lower part can be good for running, although it gets a bit more challenging as you get closer to the falls.

The best time of year for this trail is after the monsoon rains, so there is plenty of water at the falls. October through April is usually the best times and generally isn’t too hot that time of year either. Always remember to take about three times more water than you think you will need (if not more) and hats are a good idea to avoid the dreaded sunburn.

Because the trail is in the Sabino Canyon area, it can be quite crowded, especially on the weekends and holidays. The views are exceptionally stunning so it’s understandable why it is so popular. There is a great pool at the bottom of the falls, and is one of the few trails where you can go swimming, which is a plus in the desert.

The only dogs allowed on the trail are service dogs and they need to have their vests on. The rangers and other hikers are extremely strict about dogs not being on the trail. Sorry, Fido!

Photo provided from SouthwestDiscoveries.com

Photo provided from SouthwestDiscoveries.com

Finger Rock Trailhead

Heading up north Alvernon Rd. north of Ina Rd. you will find a parking lot that will lead you to the base of the Finger Rock Trail head, which is a favorite of Tucson locals.This is an approximately 8.2 mile round trip, rugged hike with incredible mountain views. But it is not for the faint of heart. If you are afraid of heights or walking on a small path next to drop-offs, this might not be your first choice. It will take approximately 5 hours for the casual hiker to complete and the reward is breathtaking canyon vistas and mountain-top views of both Tucson and Oro Valley.

Finger Rock alone is known as one of the most demanding short hikes in the Tucson area, gaining upwards of 4500 ft. in elevation. Near the summit of the canyon, be sure to follow the Pima Canyon trail at the saddle where the trail splits and head towards the summit of Mount Kimball. Once at the summit you’re at your half way point… be sure to have sun protection and plenty of water and a walking stick is always helpful.

Happy hiking!