Sutherland Trail Out-and-Back

Experience the brilliance of poppies in the springtime on the Sutherland Trail.

Hiking Moderate

Distance
8.5 km
Ascent
223 m
Descent
223 m
Duration
2-3 hrs
Low Point
829 m
High Point
1 km
Gradient
Sutherland Trail Out-and-Back Map

The lower stretches of the Sutherland Trail provide a mellow out-and-back route with very little climbing and stupendous views! During the springtime, this is one of the very best places near Tucson to experience the poppies and other wildflowers during their brief period of brilliance.

Description

Begin this hike from the major trailhead in Catalina State Park and follow the signs for the Sutherland Trail. The trail tread is very wide early on due to the immense popularity of the area, and you can expect to share the trail with dozens of other hikers.

After crossing the stream twice, you’ll walk along a mellow stretch of trail flanked by towering saguaro cacti. Soon you'll reach a third stream crossing, where two different streams join at a fork. In the middle of this fork, a narrower trail branches off to the left up a set of stairs—this is the Sutherland Trail that you’re after. The trail that continues straight is the Canyon Loop, mapped separately.

Once on this section of the Sutherland Trail, the track gets much narrower and offers a more natural experience. After you gain the low ridge and slowly follow it uphill, you’ll finally be treated to the best views of the hike! If you look up, you’ll be stunned by the Santa Catalina mountains filling the horizon. And if you look down, in the springtime you’ll enjoy endless carpets of wildflowers blanketing the sides of the trail and the surrounding hillsides.

While the window of opportunity to enjoy the wildflowers is small, if you make the effort to hike this trail during peak bloom, the reward will be immense!

Difficulty

Moderate

Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

Low Exposure

1 out of 4

The path is on completely flat land and potential injury is limited to falling over.

Remoteness

2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

Features

  • Picturesque
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Family friendly

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area