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.
Where is the Ventana Trail located?
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.
What are the hours?
The Ventana Canyon Trailhead is open from dawn until dusk.
Why would I visit the Ventana Trail?
- To hike
- To trail run
Can I cycle or ride my horse on the Ventana Trail?
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.
How much does it cost?
Where should I park?
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.
What is the length/distance of the hike?
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.”
How much time should I allot for this hike?
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.
Is there water to play in?
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.
What should I wear?
Dress for the weather. We recommend comfortable hiking shoes/boots, a hat/visor, light layers, sunscreen (lots of it), and sunglasses.
What should I bring with me?
Plenty of water, snacks or lunch, a camera or phone, and extra sunscreen.
Are bathrooms available?
No. If nature calls, you’ll have to answer in nature. Plan accordingly.
Which days are most and least crowded?
If you prefer to hike without crowds, arrive early on a weekday morning.
What is the best season for visiting the Ventana Canyon Trail?
October through April is the ideal hiking season in Tucson due to cooler temperatures. Daytime heat can be deadly during the summer months.
What kinds of plants and animals might I see?
Saguaro cacti, palo verde trees, mesquite trees, barrel cacti, rattlesnakes, javelina, jackrabbits, roadrunners, mountain lions, lizards, and/or hummingbirds.
Is outside food allowed at Ventana Canyon?
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.
Does the Ventana Canyon Trailhead have a restaurant?
No, but Loews Ventana Canyon Resort does!
If your stomach rumbles before or after your hike, you can satisfy your hunger at Flying V (serving up dinner with water views) or Canyon Cafe (a breakfast and lunch spot w/ indoor & outing seating options overlooking the pools and mountains). A children’s menu is available for ages 12 and under, with breakfast menu items starting at $4.50 and children’s lunch entrees starting at $7.50.
What restaurants are located NEAR the Ventana Canyon Trailhead?
Our top restaurant picks within a 6-mile radius are:
- Commoner & Co, 6960 E. Sunrise Dr. (1.7 miles away) – dinner only, fine dining, entrees, salad, cocktails
- Brewd Coffee Lounge, 4960 N. Sabino Canyon Rd. (3.5 miles away) – coffee, tea, espresso, paninis, salads, open until 2pm
- Renee’s Organic Oven, 7065 E. Tanque Verde Rd (5.7 miles away) – locally sourced and organic food, pizza, pasta, wine, craft beer
- Eclectic Café, 7053 E. Tanque Verde Rd. (5.7 miles away) – American cuisine, Mexican cuisine, café setting, $8-$16 lunch/dinner
- Zona 78, 7301 E. Tanque Verde Rd (6.1 miles away) – Italian, lunch, dinner, dessert, happy hour
BABIES & KIDS
What ages would be best suited for a hike on the Ventana Canyon Trail?
Should I bring a stroller?
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.
Are dogs allowed on the Ventana Canyon Trail?
Dogs are not allowed on the trail in support of the Arizona Game and Fish Department Desert Bighorn Sheep Reintroduction Program.
Can I have my wedding or rehearsal dinner on the Ventana Canyon Trail?
Due to the intensity of the hike and the absence of restrooms, this hiking trail is not an ideal option for special events.
Is the Ventana Canyon Trail active on social media?
The Ventana Canyon Trail does not have its own social media accounts, but you can LIKE Coronado National Forest on Facebook.
What else do I need to know before I go hiking on the Ventana Canyon Trailhead?
- Don’t forget to wear sunscreen – even on overcast days! Bring extra so that you can reapply when you need to!
- Bring LOTS of water – especially on warm days.
- Always tell someone where you are going to be hiking (especially if you are hiking alone). Keep your phone handy at all times in case of an emergency.