Towering Saguaro cactus along the Pima Canyon trail in Tucson, Arizona

Pima Canyon is a beautiful hike located in the Catalina Foothills, a gorgeous upscale neighborhood of Tucson. This canyon is located within the Pusch Ridge Wilderness area in the mesmerizing Santa Catalina Mountains. While just about every hike in Tucson is worth considering due to the shear beauty of the Sonoran desert, Pima Canyon is a nice convenient choice if you are staying in the Foothills region.

Pima Canyon is a popular place for bird and wildlife watching. Javelina, desert bighorn sheep, and jack rabbits are frequently sighted. Bobcats and gila monsters occasionally make an appearance, particularly early in the morning. Of course, various species of rattlesnakes inhabit the desert, so you will need to take safety precautions. Here are a snake safety tips detailing what to do if you see a snake.

Rattlesnake in Tucson, Arizona

Avid hikers typically choose to challenge themselves to the lengthy, vigorous trek to Pima Saddle. This is an extremely difficult 6+ mile out-and back hike featuring a 4000+ foot elevation gain, only suitable for experienced hikers. Nevertheless, you can simply go out a mile or 2 and enjoy all the beautiful desert plants which comprise the desert riparian habitat. You will see plenty of prickly pear, mesquite trees, and of course, the enchanting Saguaro cactus that the area is most famous for.

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Hiking Pima Canyon to the Lower Dam

Most hikers choose to go out to the lower dam for a total round trip hike of about 5 miles. Again, you can choose to turn around at any point. 2 miles is a great distance in my opinion for vacationers and beginning hikers who want to take it easy. This still is no easy feat and will take at least 2 hours. No matter how far you choose to go out, this hike is incredibly scenic. Lush desert vegetation and stunning views of the mountains surround you in every direction.

A few views of the exotic desert plants and beautiful scenery you will come across

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Summer monsoon while hiking the Pima Canyon trail in Tucson, Arizona
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Scenic-overlook-from-the-Pima-Canyon-trail-in-Tucson-AZ

It’s really easy to get lost in nature just about anywhere you choose to hike in Tucson. When surrounded by the exotic plants of the Sonoran, it’s so easy to relax for a bit and live in the moment. Most Tucson trails are incredibly serene and a great place to get in a workout, get up and close with the tremendous desert scenery, and simply enjoy reconnecting with nature.

If you plan on hiking the entire trek, you will definitely want to save this one for the cooler winter season and come prepared with plenty of food and water. This hike is close to town, thus making it easy to get out here early before the intense heat of the day arrives. Despite the convenient distance to town, you are whisked away to a nature wonderland the moment you begin your hike.

Additional Details

  • Location: 1610 E. Magee Rd. Tucson, Arizona 8578
  • Admission: free, Parking is free
  • Parking fills up fast during the prime season (winter). Arrive early, preferably on a weekday.
  • No dogs or bicycles allowed.
  • Where to grab a bite nearby: Beyond Bread is a popular regional chain which serves tasty homemade sandwiches and soups. Other decent choices in the vicinity include Guadalajara grill (excellent Mexican food), Tohono Chul Garden bistro (excellent breakfast in a beautiful garden like setting), and Frost Gelato (the best in town!).