Family Friendly Tucson Hikes

Family Friendly Hiking in Tucson, AZ

Tucson, Arizona is a beautiful part of the Sonoran Desert. Surrounded by mountains, Tucson offers some truly amazing hiking and many of them are family friendly. We visit Tucson frequently and we have done a lot of hiking in the area. Since there are so many hikes to choose from, we’ve compiled some of our favorite family friendly Tucson hikes to share with you!

Family Friendly tucson Hikes

Hiking trails in the desert can range from leisurely paved paths to difficult mountain terrain, but these trails are all easy to moderate. Of course, always remember sunscreen and plenty of water no matter what time of year you are hiking in the desert.

Cienega Creek

Family friendly hike in Tucson, Cienega Creek.

Cienega Creek Natural Preserve is located just a short distance from Tucson in the city of Vail. We started at the Gabe Zimmerman Davidson Canyon Trailhead, and while we didn’t see any water running in the creek during our visit in February, it was still a scenic desert hike with a really fun surprise that our kids loved — a giant snake! That’s right, a giant snake head served as the entrance to a tunnel that takes you under the I-10 highway. Not only was it a cool piece of artwork but the kids loved walking through the dark tunnel too. It definitely made for an unforgettable hike. Be sure to also keep an eye out for trains, and check out the train trestle just up the street from the trailhead.

  • hiking shoes recommended
  • plenty of parking at trailhead
  • porta-potties at trailhead
  • permit required to access preserve (free)
  • no shade, best hiked Nov-April
  • dogs allowed on leash

Honey Bee Canyon

Honey Bee Canyon Park trail in Tucson, AZ

Honey Bee Canyon Park has a few different trail options depending on how far you’d like to hike. A short, less than 1 mile loop is available for a quick outing with younger kids, or you can choose to add to your hike by widening the loop or wandering through the historical stone dam and into the beautiful canyon area. I highly recommend this path, the dam alone is worth checking out! There are also petroglyphs to be seen if you head to the right from the parking lot and continue under the bridge for the main road. You can find a map of all of the Honey Bee Canyon trails here.

  • hiking shoes optional, you will walk through sand
  • small parking lot at trailhead
  • no bathroom facilites
  • rentable ramadas with grills
  • drinking fountain
  • dogs allowed on leash
  • not much shade

Tortolita Mountain Trails

Tortolita Mountains Wild Burro Trail

While Tortolita Mountain is actually located in the town of Marana, it’s a short drive from Tucson and can be a great place to stop if you’re headed back to Phoenix. The Wild Burro Trailhead is where you’ll want to start, with ample parking and restrooms available. You will drive through the entrance gate to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, and although we drove right through last time, I do think you are supposed to stop at the gate to let them know you’re coming in to hike. Oops.

The trailhead parking area is easy to find if you follow the signs. The Wild Burro Trail takes you through lush desert terrain with an opportunity to see a lot of wildlife along the way. We were lucky enough to spot a Gila Monster!

The signage on the trails is not so great, so I recommend grabbing a trail map at the trailhead or downloading the Marana Parks and Rec app. The Wild Burro Trail is not the only trail in this area, and if you are trying to make it to a specific point, it can be easy to get sidetracked if you aren’t sure which path to follow.

The Wild Burrow trail is 6.5 miles one way, but if you make it to the end you’ll reach an area called Goat Corral that has a windmill, a watering trough, and other old ruins. We’ve never made it this far but just hiking as far as you can in this area is well worth it. And yes, there is geocaching along the trails! Download a Tortolita Mountain trail map here.

Another option is the Tortolita Mountain Preserve, which has easier, flat trails that anyone can handle. I didn’t love these trails because I really just felt like I was walking through the rather barren desert, but if you aren’t from Arizona you will definitely appreciate the unique Sonoran feel. This preserve was established to protect the giant saguaro cacti growing here. The saguaro are nice but the jumping cholla are not, and even if you stick to the trail you’re likely to get one stuck to your foot, or your dog’s foot.

  • hiking shoes recommended
  • bring plenty of water
  • little to no shade
  • dogs allowed on leash
  • ample parking at Wild Burro Trailhead
  • restrooms at Wild Burro Trailhead
  • unique Sonoran plants and wildlife

Chuck Huckleberry Loop

Chuck Huckleberry Loop Tucson AZ

The Chuck Huckleberry Loop is a paved multi-use path that measures 136 miles! There are many different places to park and enter the loop, so check out the interactive map here to see which spot works best for you. This loop is actually the longest public recreation, multi-use path in the United States!

The part of the loop we walked had public art along the way, plenty of geocaching, and even an overpass that houses as many as 7,000 bats! This was a nice easy walk and works well for families with strollers. There were far more bikers than walkers, but there was plenty of room to move off the path or out of their way.

Since much of this path runs through various parts of town, there are ample spots to rest and lots of restaurants along the way.

  • sneakers or other comfortable walking shoes are fine
  • completely paved path
  • restaurants and shops along the way
  • public artwork displays
  • dogs allowed on leash

Sabino Canyon Recreation Area

Sabino Canyon Dam

The Sabino Canyon recreation area is located in the Santa Catalina Mountains in the northern part of Tucson. It is well-known for its soaring mountains, deep canyons, and the unique plants and animals of the Sonoran Desert. That being said, it also attracts over one million visitors a year, and if you’re visiting on a winter or spring weekend, you may be a bit turned off by the crowds. We have encountered a full parking lot more than once, and while there are places to park outside the recreation area it can be a bit of a hike.

Nevertheless, Sabino Canyon is quite a beautiful area and definitely offers family friendly hiking. There is even a tram that will take you on an interpretive tour, and you can get off and on at various stops. It’s not free though, so if you aren’t looking to spend more than the $8 it costs to get in to the park, stick to the trails.

If you have younger kids and a stroller, you have the option of walking along the paved path that the tram drives on. It’s not a bad way to go but it can get crowded.

If you’re looking for a little adventure, I highly recommend the Sabino Dam trail. This trail leads you to a (seasonally) beautiful water wonderland that is so much fun for kids. If you know in advance that you’ll go this route, definitely bring along some swimsuits unless you’re kids don’t mind hiking back soaking wet.

One important thing to note — there are no pets allowed in Sabino Canyon. Keep that in mind if you are traveling with your pooch!

  • visitor center
  • restrooms available
  • interpretive tram rides
  • little to no shade
  • paved paths
  • hiking shoes or sneakers
  • drinking fountains
  • no dogs allowed

While there are certainly many more hiking trails in Tucson and the surrounding area, these are the trails that we have found to be the most family-friendly. Do you have any trails to add to this list? Please let me know in the comments below!

Family Friendly Hikes in Tucson, AZ

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