Best Of Tucson®

Best Hike

Sabino Canyon

5700 N. Sabino Canyon Road

READERS' PICK: With its lush, lower Sonoran desert riparian vegetation, cushy asphalt road, and some of the most attractive bodies in town sweating it out in tiny work out clothes, it's no wonder that our readers chose Sabino Canyon as their favorite place to hike. You can don your Nike Air Sabinos and haul your haunches all the way to the top of the tram route, or take one of the many trails that test your hiking mettle. The canyon is open to walkers and runners 24 hours a day and there is no charge to enter on foot. The entire tram route hike is just under 8 miles, but you can easily adjust the distance to your comfort and/or fitness level. Same goes for the hiking trails. The staff at the Visitors' Center will offer you details about each path before you set out. All you need do is ask. Should you wear out during your tram route hike, and it happens to be during tourist hours, the tram will shuttle you back for $6 per adult and $2.50 for children between the ages of 3 and 12. If you poop out on a trail, just hope that one of those hard-bodies in tiny workout clothes will toss you over his or her shoulder and fireman-carry you out.

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Pima Canyon. See Best Chance To Spot A Golden Eagle, above.

LOOSE CHANGE: Mt. Wrightson, Santa Rita Mountains. The strenuous full-day hike up and down Mt. Wrightson is truly one of the best natural gems southern Arizona has to offer. It's not a secret that the 25,260-acre designated wilderness in the Coronado National Forest consistently gives us refuge from the sprawled-out strip mall we call Tucson. Start early in the morning if your goal is the 9,453-foot peak. Whether you take the direct route up Old Baldy Trail (Forest Trail #94, 10.8 miles round trip) or the easier Super Trail (#134, 13 miles round trip), you'll still need to give yourself 8 to 10 hours to complete this trek in the Sky Islands. The rewards are sweet. Over 200 species of birds have been spotted in Madera Canyon, which you'll walk through on the first part of your journey. If you're lucky, you could spot a couple of shy black bears, mountain lion, coatimundi, javelina or deer. The views from the saddles and peak are phenomenal if the smog is cooperative, but you won't be thinking about poor air quality among Douglas fir, aspen, oaks, madrone, chihuahua, ponderosa, apache, and Arizona white pines. Bring lots of water for the long day hike. But fear not, for fresh water springs flow year-round (don't forget your filter). When you get in your car and head back to Babylon, the afterglow should provide you with a sufficient supply of accomplishment and enlightenment to face the concrete jungle. Thank God (and Teddy Roosevelt) for public lands.

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