Best Hikes in Coronado National Forest (AZ)

Overview

Coronado National Forest is an expansive national forest located in southeastern Arizona near Tucson. It is made up of five non-contiguous ranger districts, each with multiple sky island mountain ranges and its own wilderness areas. These “sky islands” are isolated mountain ranges surrounded by a radically different lowland desert area. Most notable among these mountain ranges are: the Santa Catalina Mountains, Chiricahua Mountains, and the Pinaleño Mountains.

There are eight wilderness areas listed below that help make up Coronado National Forest. They are:

  • Chiricahua Wilderness (Douglas District)
  • Galiuro Wilderness (Safford District)
  • Miller Peak Wilderness (Sierra Vista District)
  • Mount Wrightson Wilderness (Nogales District)
  • Pajarita Wilderness (Nogales District)
  • Pusch Ridge Wilderness (Santa Catalina District)
  • Rincon Wilderness (Santa Catalina District)
  • Santa Teresa Wilderness (Safford District)

The most popular wilderness area would be the 56,000 acre Pusch Ridge Wilderness located just north of Tucson, AZ. Many of the best hikes in Coronado National Forest listed below are located here and are just a short drive away from downtown Tucson. Official Website

Click here for more national park hikes!
You can also view our recommendations on hiking gear and camping equipment!

 

Trailhead Traveler’s Recommended Hikes in Coronado National Forest

  • Aspen Trail #93 and Marshall Gulch #3 Loop – 3.8 mile loop
    • Pusch Ridge Wilderness
    • A somewhat heavily used trail in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness, this hike is an enjoyable way to experience Mt. Lemmon. The loop is moderate with minimal elevation gain and can be enjoyed by hikers of all skill levels.
  • Bear Canyon Trail #29 to Seven Falls*** – 5.3 out and back
    • Pusch Ridge Wilderness
    •  Depending on the season and amount of recent rainfall, you can either run into a gorgeous tiered waterfall or little more than a trickle. There is no shade along the trail so be sure to bring lots of water to drink. Not difficult until you get towards the end but should be doable by everyone. This is one of the best hikes in the Tucson area. 
  • Chiricahua Canyon Big Loop – 8.3 mile loop
    • Chiricahua Wilderness
    • Unlike the rest of the hikes on this list, this loop is not in the Santa Catalina District but in the Douglas district on the eastern border of Arizona. The trails take you into a canyon and on a great trip with views of spectacular rock formations in the Chiricahua Wilderness.
  • Finger Rock Canyon #42 Trail to Mt. Kimball Summit*** – 8.7 miles out and back
    • Pusch Ridge Wilderness
    • This is a steep and difficult climb even for experienced hikers but the view cannot be beat. The overlooks are spectacular and definitely reward you for the effort put in!
  • Phoneline Trail #27 to Blacketts Ridge Trail #48 – 4.0 miles out and back
    • Pusch Ridge Wilderness
    • Popular but difficult trail that will lead you to Blacketts Ridge that offers some incredible panoramic views of Tucson. The trail can be rocky and steep at times but manageable for most. Take Phoneline Trailhead in Sabino Canyon to Blacketts Ridge Trail.
  • Pima Canyon Trail #62 – 6.6 miles out and back
    • Pusch Ridge Wilderness
    • The trail up Pima Canyon continues all the way to the top of Mt. Kimball but going 3 in and 3 out will get you all of the views that you’ll need to see without getting too strenuous. Though the stream in Pima Canyon is dry for most of the year, it supports an excellent example of a desert riparian habitat.
  • Pusch Peak via Linda Vista Trail #49 – 3.8 miles out and back
    • Pusch Ridge Wilderness
    • Super difficult but short trail that takes you up to incredible views of Oro Valley and Tucson. This hike is for experts only as it climbs over 2300′ in a little over 1.25 miles!
  • Romero Canyon Trail #8 to Romero Pools*** – 4.9 miles out and back
    • Pusch Ridge Wilderness
    • The first mile is relatively flat before climbing nearly 2 miles up a rocky incline up to Romero Pools. The water level will depend on the time you visit but there are also impressive views over Tucson and of Mt. Lemmon to your east.  
  • Tanque Verde Falls Trail #342 – 1.8 miles out and back
    • Pusch Ridge Wilderness
    • Difficult trail to navigate as there are no trail markers but it eventually leads to beautiful falls – again, the amount of water will depend on the season! There is a decent amount of scrambling and climbing over rocks but worth it in the end.
  • Window Peak via Ventana Canyon Trail #98 – 12.4 miles out and back
    • Pusch Ridge Wilderness
    • The Window (or ‘Ventana’ in Spanish) is a 15’ x 25’ opening in solid rock that tops one of the peaks in the Santa Catalina Front Range. The trail is difficult to climb, especially as you get further from the trailhead. However, there is a popular viewpoint at the 2 mile marker that some use as a turnaround spot if you’re not wanting to go all the way

 

***Most Recommended Hikes

 

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