Ventana Canyon Trail, located in northeast Tucson as part of Coronado National Forest, is one of the city’s many "secret" hiking trails.
Because the trailhead begins in a small parking lot adjacent to Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, it is less popular than nearby Sabino Canyon. Even so, it still offers the beauty of the desert landscape and a great workout for Tucson hikers.
Set your GPS to Loews Ventana Canyon Resort and park in the employee parking lot, just west of the main resort. The trailhead starts at the end of the employee parking lot. The first mile or so of the hike is underwhelming as you walk right past condos/apartments and barbed wire fence, but then it becomes very interesting and scenic.
The Ventana Canyon Trailhead is open from dawn until dusk.
Not recommended. Although this is a multi-use trail, there are many narrow spots and difficult creek crossings along the route leading to the Forest Boundary. When it comes to bike-riding, more time would be spent walking and lifting the bike than quality riding.
Follow the signs when you arrive in the employee parking lot at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort. Arrive early and/or hike on weekdays to get the best parking spot.
Hike as long as you like! The entire out-and-back trail is 10+ miles, but you can choose to stop and come back at any point during your hike.
Note that this hike has a number of large rocks/boulders and switchbacks for an impressive elevation gain. Many people would describe this hike as "moderate," "difficult," or "challenging."
A hike on the Ventana Canyon Trail can really be as long or as short as you want to make it.
If you choose to do the entire out-and-back trail, plan to leave early and to spend most (or all) of your day on the trail.
There are some pools (the maiden pools), but be aware that the water may be dried up or stagnant at certain times of the year. It is best to visit after the monsoons or a rainfall if you hope to see water.
Dress for the weather. We recommend comfortable hiking shoes/boots, a hat/visor, light layers, sunscreen (lots of it), and sunglasses.
Plenty of water, snacks or lunch, a camera or phone, and extra sunscreen.
No. If nature calls, you'll have to answer in nature. Plan accordingly.
If you prefer to hike without crowds, arrive early on a weekday morning.
October through April is the ideal hiking season in Tucson due to cooler temperatures. Daytime heat can be deadly during the summer months.
Yes. Food is permitted, but note that there are no designated picnic areas. 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, but Loews Ventana Canyon Resort does!
If your stomach rumbles, you can satisfy your hunger at Flying V (serving up dinner with water views) or Canyon Cafe (a breakfast and lunch spot with indoor & outing seating, overlooking the pool and mountains). We also highly recommend the Blues, Brews & BBQ Brunch, which is available every Sunday from 11:00am-2:00pm.
Try one of the following restaurants, which are within a 6-mile radius of the Ventana Canyon Trailhead:
No. Some parts of this hike are steep and/or rocky. If you are bringing a baby with you, a carrier or baby backpack is the best option.
Dogs are not allowed on the trail in support of the Arizona Game and Fish Department Desert Bighorn Sheep Reintroduction Program.
Due to the intensity of the hike and the absence of restrooms, this hiking trail is not an ideal option for special events.
The Ventana Canyon Trail does not have its own social media accounts, but you can LIKE Coronado National Forest on Facebook.