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4 Easy Desert Hikes in Tucson, Arizona

Drink in the desert's beauty on these four mellow, scenic hikes.

Hiking Easy, Moderate

Sutherland Trail Out-and-Back
Photo: Greg Heil


The Sonoran Desert, especially in the springtime, is a magical landscape filled with vibrant life! Here, you'll encounter almost every type of cactus imaginable, in all shapes and sizes and formations. In the spring, the cacti are covered with colorful blooms and the buds of new growth, and in between, wildflowers sprout in vast, colorful carpets from the desert floor. Birds flit from bush to tree to cactus, bees buzz amongst the flowers, roadrunners zip across the trail, and larger wildlife like javelina, coyotes, jackrabbits, deer, and more can be spotted at the right time of day. While yes, the desert is a harsh environment and every living thing fights hard to survive, life flourishes here in the rocky, rugged landscape around the city of Tucson.

If you want to drink in the beauty of the desert without brutalizing your body on the region's more difficult hikes, consider one of the four selections in this guidebook. All four of these hikes can serve literally anyone who wants to head out into the Sonoran Desert for a mellow hike.

The Canyon Loop is the shortest route in this guidebook, and one of the most popular. This quick 2.3-mile loop provides stunning views of saguaro cacti and the Santa Catalina Mountains. The Desperado Loop is a touch longer, but it runs through one of the most incredible stands of saguaro cacti in the region.

The final two recommendations are both mapped as slightly longer hikes, but since they're both out-and-back routes, you can shorten (or lengthen) them as desired. The Sutherland Trail (5.3 miles as mapped) provides some of the best wildflower viewing in the region. And finally, the Big Wash Trail might be the absolute easiest trail in this guidebook, but you can easily hike an 8.2-mile out-and-back as mapped, or even more miles if you so desire.

Routes included

Related guidebooks