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 above).
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.
Current admission fees:
Route to the Sabino Canyon Visitor Center and you'll find a large parking lot with plentiful parking. Note that the paved parking lot does fill up on weekends and holidays but an overflow parking lot is available just past the main entrance. 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.
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. We recommend: (1) comfortable, closed toe shoes or boots (2) light layers (3) sunscreen (4) a wide-brimmed hat or visor, and (5) sunglasses.
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.
Yes. Food is permitted and there are several enjoyable spots to stop for lunch. As with all federal lands, 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. Remember to take only pictures and leave only footprints.
No. There are vending machines with snacks outside 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 (the latter option would be preferable). 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! ;)