5 Awesome Tucson Hiking Adventures

Today’s article wraps up our series of 5 awesome hiking in Tucson adventures. In our first article of, we showcased the glorious pinnacle and stunning views of Mt Wrightson. We followed that with the Tucson hiking trails of Redfield Mountain, the place that time forgot. We then shined our light on the Monsoon Magic on The Red Ridge Loop and followed it up with the spectacular sky islands of Arizona, Rincon Peak.

As glorious as those Tucson hiking Adventures are, If you are looking for one of the best Tucson Hikes you can experience, you cannot go wrong with Palisades Canyon. Palisades Canyon is magnificent and trekking it comprises one of the most exciting adventures in the southwest. This epic canyoneering trek originates in the upper reaches of Tucson’s Santa Catalina Mountains and plummets 14 miles to Sabino Canyon, a popular recreation area. The route starts out in a ponderosa pine forest and culminates amidst the saguaros and paloverdes of the upper Sonoran Desert.

Palisades Creek and its tributaries tumble over polished stone into numerous pools and slots. It courses through hard Precambrian granites and gneiss which compose the heart of the range. The Santa Catalina Mountains, like a few other sky islands, were created by tectonic uplift deep within western North America’s crust. It is considered a metamorphic core complex, formed over fifty million years ago by granite that has risen to the surface from great depths.

As if soaring cliffs, craggy peaks and stunning scenery isn’t enough, there are waterfalls, one of nature’s grandest spectacles. At Palisades in late summer, cascades are found in absurd abundance in all sizes and varieties. Sometimes, depending upon the angle and reflection of the sun, vibrant rainbows are created. Imagine rappelling into a rainbow!

The price of admission is high in terms of physical exertion, but the rappels are some of the best around. Palisades features seven spectacular waterfall rappels and some of the slickest rock in the state. Keeping one’s footing is of paramount importance; it is often easier to slide down the falls on your side with your feet dangling in midair. The hike itself is over 13 miles long with a total elevation loss of over 4,000 feet and a 1,500-foot ascent at the end. Therefore, this trek is recommended only for experienced technical canyoneers in good physical condition.

Those less than experienced in the rigors of technical trekking should tackle less challenging canyons and Tucson hikes before attempting Palisades. Canyoneering is the fastest growing alpine sport in the United States and for good reason. An intrepid backcountry enthusiast can access, and experience amazing and remote places only seen by a few. Palisades Canyon is one of those beautiful and rarified places.

To safely descend this canyon, you’ll need a 200-foot rope and a 200-foot pull cord as well as harness, helmet, carabiners, quick links and about 140 feet of webbing. Wear boots with good traction and wetsuits come in handy in all but the hottest weather. Groups of five or less is recommended because of the time commitment involved, fourteen hours and a hike out in the dark. But if you are up to the challenge, the full descent of Palisades Canyon is a sublime journey indeed and, as we said, one of the best Tucson Hikes you can experience.

Speaking of magnificent and obscure hikes near Tucson, don’t miss Dos Cabezas – Hiking a Desert Classic.