I love to hike.  For me, hiking combines some of my greatest passions in life:  Being outside and being active.  Tucson is surrounded by mountains and offers ample opportunity to hike until your hearts desire.  There are some peaks such as Mount Wrightson, that reach almost 10,000 feet and there are many national and state parks loaded with trails.  

Every time I come to Tucson, I try to fit in some hikes.  My parents live in the foothills and are close to several of my favorite trails and hiking spots such as the lovely Sabino Canyon (which has countless trails) and Ventana Canyon.   Some of my favorite trails include the hike to Seven Falls which guides you along diverse desert landscape bringing you to a large canyon with seven waterfalls (this hike is exceptionally beautiful in March or April when the water has melted off Mount Lemmon above and creates huge, rushing falls and beautiful, fragrant desert flowers).  I also love to hike the Phoneline trail that wraps around Sabino Canyon affording a spectacular view below.   Finally, the Ventana Trailhead is another great hike which combines some steep, zigzag trails giving you a fabulous workout and a rewarding view at the top of Tucson valley.  All three of these hikes can take anywhere from 3-4 hours depending on how fast you move and how few breaks you take.  It is a perfect way to let off steam, burn some calories and enjoy the stunning fresh air and views of the Arizona desert.

Yesterday we opted to take a new trail and ventured over to Pima Canyon, about ten minutes away from my parents home.  We chose a trail leading up along the Catalina Mountains which was uniquely beautiful and very peaceful.  It was the first time for years that I hiked with my siblings as well as my father, so it was a great time with good company.  

Here are some shots along the way.  

My dad and sister setting off.

Going up…this hike had a lot of climb involved and was rocky so you had to keep your eyes in front of you! I was relieved that my dad went first. I always get paranoid of encountering a rattlesnake. I’ve seen them before in the distance but never (knock on wood) had one jump out in front of me before.

The trail system goes on forever, way up high into the mountains in the background. You can hike for days back in the wilderness as long as you bring a pack. There is also plenty of wildlife such as mountain lions, bighorn sheep, deer, ocelots and wildcats. Sadly a lot of their habitat has disappeared and these animals have come down to the foothills and valley in search of food and water only to be a nuisance to the human population below. I’ve seen an ocelot, javelina pigs, coyote and wildcat outside of my parents home. Not a good thing to see, though.

A skeleton of a saguaro cactus, Tucson’s most dominant variety of cacti.

The trail map…we took the Pontatoc Canyon Trail.

Photos of the many different varieties of cacti.

These are the notorious and deadly jumping cacti.

And the stunning view behind us…

Then we reached the top and took a sibling photo—-our first in years of the three of us.

And fabulous views of Finger Rock and the surrounding Pima Canyon.

Mount Wrightson beckons in the background….one of my most favorite hikes of all! It is a whole day affair that I’ll have to save for another day.


    1. Thanks Kathy! And these pics are taken with my handy iPhone! They turned out pretty good! I love the desert and find it to be a beautiful place in its own right. The weather has been amazing too….high 70s which is above average. HAPPY NEW YEAR KATHY!!!!! I look forward to what 2012 brings!

  1. Jumping Cactus?? – Don’t much like the sound of that!

    Happy New Year Nicole – Hope that you have as fantastic a 2012 with your travels and your family as you have had this past year. Looking forward to catching up with you next year 🙂

    1. The jumping cactus does come at you if you aren’t careful and they are extremely painful. It is crazy all the odd things that live in the desert!

  2. I love this desert landscape. We took a train through the centre of Australia a while ago and I thought it would be boring, but I found it absolutely fascinating.

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