3.9 miles +/- With minimal elevation gain, this hike is perfect for an easy day on the trails. Even with this larger loop, you’ll only log four miles, but you can hike it multiple times or different directions to mix it up and get a medium distance hike in. Given that it’s primarily doubletrack width, it’s also a loop that can be done at night easily enough.
Pima Canyon Dam 6.0 miles R/T
(5 being hardest)
Pima Canyon is one of the most popular hiking areas in all of the Santa Catalina mountains, as you may notice when you arrive at the large trailhead parking lot.
The trail starts out in the desert where you’ll walk among Saguaros, prickly pears, and various types of cholla. The first stretch is something of a corridor as the path snakes its way through several plots of private property.
Before long you’ll begin a gradual climb, at the top of which you’ll be able to look South and see the entire Tucson valley. Enjoy the view because shortly thereafter the trail heads up into the canyon and the city will begin to disappear from sight.
After dropping down into the creek bed, which is usually dry outside of Winter and early Spring, the trail will wind through a lush riparian area full of many tall trees. The dense foliage in this section is often home to red tailed hawks and the shade it provides is one of the reasons for Pima Canyon’s popularity.
Once the canyon begins to open up and the flora isn’t quite as thick, you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled for large slabs of exposed bedrock just after the trail crosses the creek bed from West to East. The rock will have alternating dark and light lines and you may be able to spot some bedrock mortar holes in the area. That is where you’ll want to rest for a bit and hopefully enjoy a snack.
The mortar holes were made by the Hohokam people who inhabited the area around a thousand years ago as they ground bean pods from the Mesquite tree into flour for cooking. More recently, the Arizona Game and Fish Department constructed a small stone dam nearby to provide the local wildlife with a steady water source. It’s mostly silted in these days and it’s easy to miss, but it nevertheless serves as the most common landmark for hikers to rest up before turning around.