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Best Bet For Perennial Water
Best Day Hike
Best Deal On A Summer Cooler
Best Dog Run
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Best Leisurely Stroll
Best Mountain-Bike Trail
Best Place To Watch A Sunset
Best Public Landscaping
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Best Vanishing Riparian Area
Best Way To "Waste-Water"
Best Weekend Adventure

Best Day Hike

Sabino Canyon
5700 N. Sabino Canyon Road

READERS' PICK: One of the few places in Arizona that can show off its natural beauty to walkers, hikers, bikers and the vehicular crowd without ever seeming overrun, Sabino Canyon seems to please everyone with its lush mix of cottonwood and sycamore along banks with perennial waters. While the only way to actually hike the canyon is along Telephone Line Trail, an hourly tram tour runs the length of the canyon, with nine scenic stops along the way. Of course, you can hoof it on the asphalt if that's your thing. Trams run hourly from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Bring your swimming gear--nothing's better than taking a dip at the end of the trail. Travel advisory: Try to make your trip in the early morning or during the week to avoid crowds.

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: When people say Mount Lemmon, they generally mean the entire Santa Catalina Mountain Range, which encompasses a lot of day-hike possibilities. If you could pick from all the mountain ranges in the world to have in your city's backyard, you'd be hard pressed to choose better than the Santa Catalinas. They have it all: If you want to drive to the top, there's a road. If you want to hike through at least four distinct biological zones and a riparian area, hike up Sabino Canyon. From there go to Sabino Basin, into the Wilderness of Rocks and, ultimately, into the aspens of Marshall Gulch or the towering Douglas firs on Mount Lemmon itself. If you want to escape the crowds, the pavement and the heat, hike along one of the roadless stretches of the northern slopes. Best Day Hike doesn't begin to cover it. Best lifetime of day hikes is more like it.

STAFF PICK: Only an hour's drive from Tucson stands Mount Wrightson, a prominent feature on the southern skyline, higher than Mount Lemmon, cloaked in local history, approachable from several trails, always a challenge, with a terrific panoramic view from the top, usually some nice people on the trail but not too many, serious snow conditions in the winter if you want them, oaks and pines, springs, birds, deer, an occasional bear, an occasional mountain lion...and if you read through all that without losing your breath, you probably have the lung capacity to make it to the top.

Case History

1998 Winner: Seven Falls
1997 Winner: Mount Lemmon

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