The Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, just 12 miles north of Tuscon, is a section of the Coronado National Forest, features soaring mountains, deep canyons, and the unique plants and animals of the Sonoran Desert. This area is one of the running highlights of Tuscon. There are paved park roads, some moderate trail running, and some more extreme stuff.
For road running, a paved road runs 3.8 miles into the canyon, crossing 9 stone bridges over Sabino Creek. It begins at an altitude of 2,800 feet and rises to 3,300 feet at its end, a popular drop-off in summer because of the swimming holes at Hutch’s Pool and The Crack. A tram runs along a section of the road. Another two mile “tram tour is Bear Canyon Trail, also following a paved road.
We’ve also mapped out a 9.7 mile road/trail run, and is widely regarded by employees at the TriSports shop, located in central Tucson. While there is some climbing for about the first half of the run, it’s said to be easily manageable, even for the beginner. Moreover, runners will enjoy some great views once they’ve reached the top. The second half of the trail is enjoyable, as it evens out as you wind down the side of the canyon.
Restrooms are located right around the trailhead, and it is recommended that runners park in the visitor’s center parking lot, which includes a $5.00 fee. Also note that during the Monsoon season, this trail is not accessible due to high water levels.