Tucson is a “hiker’s heaven.” To the north is the mountain range that dominates the Tucson skyline, the Santa Catalina range. Due east are the Rincons. Forty miles south of town are the Santa Rita Mountains. The Tucson Mountains to the west are the backdrop for our dramatic sunsets. Hiking is possible year round—the mild winters allow hiking in the lower elevations, and, in summer, the trails of the high mountains beckon.
To enjoy hiking in these mountains, you must be properly prepared and be aware of the hazards of hiking in this area. Too much exposure to the sun is dangerous. Not carrying enough water can result in serious illness or death. There are venomous creatures out there, such as rattlesnakes, scorpions, and Gila monsters. Cactus, amole, catclaw, and other thorny plants seem determined to attack you. Weather conditions can change quickly—what started out as a beautiful morning can become a storm by early afternoon.
Sounds bad! If you are properly prepared and aware of the dangers that exist, the chances of anything happening to you are remote. It is beautiful out there, and the only way you can see it is on your feet. Within a 45-mile radius of Tucson, the elevations go from 2,500 feet to nearly 10,000 feet. Vegetation changes from cactus to oak to ponderosa pine and Douglas fir. You may spot a javelina, coyote, deer, bighorn sheep, or in the highest elevations, even a bear. Hidden pools invite swimming on a hot day. The views extend seemingly forever or are limited by stark canyon walls.
This guide is intended to prepare you to hike in these mountains. The first chapter will discuss proper equipment and clothing for hiking here. The second chapter discusses what you should be aware of, such as too much sun, too little water, and those poisonous creatures. The rest of the guide is devoted to providing detailed descriptions of trails and is organized by mountain range.
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