Best Of Tucson®

Best Backpacking Trail (TIE)

Mount Lemmon / Sabino Canyon (general)

What if the Santa Catalinas were suddenly declared off-limits, and the entire population was forced to swelter down here in the basin without access to the cooling heights of the great green island in the sky? It's a hideous fate to contemplate. Unless you enjoy hibernating all summer, cocooned in an air-conditioned stasis, there's nowhere better, not to mention closer, than the trails atop and around 9,157-foot Mount Lemmon for cobbling together a temperate backpacking trip. Several trails branch out from the main Mount Lemmon Trail, leading deep into the wilderness, through a strange wonderland ruled by giant boulders, and along ridges from which you can see the whole dry world stretching out before you.

Sure, organized sports are meant to be fun and challenging, but the scenery of a basketball court or softball dugout is anything but, well, scenic. While Sabino Canyon sees a high volume of visitors, it's reassuring to know that people actually desire to spend some time outside delving into wilderness, canyon pools and the rest of the bountiful Sonoran Desert on display. (It's a sad fact that "nature-deficit disorder" has entered our country's discourse.) Create your own itinerary for the day, and take it easy with a leisurely stroll--or ramp it up a notch and bag some miles. It doesn't matter; Sabino's there for you.

Runner up:

3. Catalina State Park/Romero Canyon Trail, Park Web site

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