These three trails offer access to the dramatic landscape of the Santa Catalina Front Range, famous for its deep canyons and soaring ridges. When traveled as a loop, they form a long but rewarding day-trip that offers memorable views and access to the riparian environments they shelter. A trip along either trail or around the entire loop will treat you to good views of the high ridges and peaks of the Front Range and, at sunset, of the city of Tucson with its lights framed by the black silhouette of surrounding mountains. Since both Bear Canyon and Sabino Canyon trails are accessible from the extremely popular Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, both are used heavily. Sabino Canyon Trail begins at the end of the recreation area shuttle bus route and contours along the canyon’s eastern slope a good distance above the canyon floor. A number of paths branch off the trail along this stretch and lead down to the streambed. Bear Canyon Trail leads upstream from the Lower Bear Picnic Area at the end of the Bear Canyon shuttle route. The trail crosses the stream several times in its first two miles and provides spectacular views of both Sabino and Bear canyons as it climbs to Bear Saddle. There it intersects the East Fork #24A and the Sycamore Reservoir #39 trails. The East Fork Trail follows Sabino Creek 2.1 miles to the junction with Sabino Canyon Trail. From this point it is 2.5 miles back to the end of the road where hikers can catch a shuttle bus ride (for a fee) or walk back to your car to complete a 13.4 mile loop. Since horses are not permitted on the shuttle road, equestrians must use the Phone Line Trail #27 (4.5 miles) to complete a loop.
At a Glance
Motorized and mechanical vehicles and equipment, including mountain bikes, are not permitted in Wilderness. See the Wilderness section of this guide for more wilderness rules and ethics.
Purification of water is recommended prior to use.
Santa Catalina Ranger District
Santa Catalina Ranger District 520-749-8700
Directions: From Tanque Verde Road in Tucson turn north on Sabino Canyon Road and follow it 4 miles to the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area Visitor Center. From the Visitor Center, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., hikers can take the shuttle bus (for a fee) to Bear Canyon and Sabino Canyon trailheads. If you prefer, or if the shuttle bus is not running, you can hike to the trailheads along the shuttle bus route. Equestrians must stay on the designated horse trails.
Spectacular canyon, lush desert, long distance views, backcountry access. Loop possibilities. Trail #24A is a segment of the Arizona Trail. All of these trails, except for 1.7 miles of Bear Canyon Trail, are within Pusch Ridge Wilderness. USGS Map(s): Sabino Canyon