The Sabino Dam East Trail at Sabino Canyon is an easy and fun hiking option if you're short on time or have small children along with you. It falls squarely in the beginner's category since it's partially paved and does not require climbing or intricate footwork.
Begin at the Sabino Canyon Visitor Center. Be sure to fill any water bottles and use the bathroom before heading East.
This is the sign you should follow.
When you get to the restrooms, veer off to the right across a bridge and follow the signs to Sabino Dam East. Congrats! You're over halfway.
Keep walking until you cross another bridge with a slightly more rocky exit. Walk along the sandy creek for a few minutes and you'll arrive at the dam (pictured).
In Sabino Canyon.
Visitor Center Hours are 8:00am to 4:30pm, seven days a week. Closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
The canyon is open 24/7.
Admission is $5/vehicle for a one-day pass. An annual pass is $20 and includes daily admission for one vehicle to Sabino Canyon, Mt. Lemmon, and Madera Canyon. An annual pass for seniors (62+) is $10.
Route to the Sabino Canyon Visitor Center and you'll find a large parking lot with plentiful, free parking. Note that the parking lot does fill up on weekends and holidays. Plan to arrive early to claim a convenient spot.
Approximately 1 to 1.5 miles each direction.
2-3 hours is about right if you plan to stop at the dam to splash, take photos, and eat lunch.
Neither mountain bikes nor motorized bikes are permitted.
Occasionally, but not year-round. On our hike in mid-April, the waterfall at the dam was running and there was a decent amount of water for splashing & swimming.
Dress for the weather. Recommended - (1) comfortable, closed toe shoes or boots (2) light layers (3) sunscreen (4) a wide-brimmed hat or visor, and (5) sunglasses.
Plenty of water, snacks or lunch, a camera and/or phone.
Yes. Restrooms are available at the Sabino Canyon Visitor Center and about halfway to the dam (pictured above). The Family Restroom at the Visitor Center is spacious and includes a toilet, a changing table, sinks, mirrors, soap, and a hand-drying machine.
Weekends and holidays tend to be the most crowded so your best bet is early morning or early evening on a weekday if you're hoping for less "traffic" on the trail.
October thru April are ideal because the temperatures tend to be more moderate than in the summer months. That said, late summer visits (after the monsoons) can also be fun if you watch the weather and plan your visit accordingly.
Saguaro cacti, rattlesnakes, javelina, jackrabbits, birds, lizards, white tail deer, cottontail rabbits, coyotes, bobcats, sycamore trees, and tarantulas.
Yes. Food is permitted and there are several enjoyable spots to stop for lunch. As with all parks, hiking trails, and state/national reserves, be sure to stow away all your trash in your bag or pocket until it can be properly disposed of.
No. There are concession machines with snacks at the Visitors Center.
Our top restaurant picks within a 5-mile radius are:
All ages! We recently went with a group of four adults and ten children (ages 2 to 8).
Sure. If your little one is three or younger, you may want to bring a stroller or wear a baby carrier. Most of the hike is paved or dirt roads (our umbrella stroller fared relatively well).
Pets are not allowed in Sabino Canyon.
Sure...but your guests (and the bridal party!) will have to hike a bit! ;)