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Hiking the Seven Falls Trail in Tucson, Arizona

February 20, 2017
Seven Falls Trail in Sabino Canyon | Hiking in Tucson, Arizona

Planning on hiking the Seven Falls Trail in Tucson’s Sabino Canyon? Then check out these tips on when to go, what to bring, and what to expect along the trail. 

If there’s one thing I wanted to do on our recent weekend getaway to Tucson, Arizona, it was hike the Seven Falls Trail in Sabino Canyon. There’s something magical about hiking to a waterfall, and this is a set of seven in the middle of the Sonoran desert.

Hiking the Seven Falls Trail in Tucson, Arizona

 

When to Hike the Seven Falls Trail

The Seven Falls Trail is located near Tucson, Arizona, in the Sabino Canyon area. Late winter or early spring is the perfect time to hike the Seven Falls Trail as it is your best chance to see flowing falls in Sabino Canyon fed by snowmelt or heavy rains. We went in early February, and the falls were roaring and the creek was full. Weather-wise, fall through spring will provide comfortable temperatures in this part of Arizona. Summer heat can peak over 100°F, so plan an early morning or night hike and bring plenty of water.

This is one of the most popular hiking spots in the Tucson area (and in my opinion, it’s the best hike in Tucson!), so it’s especially busy on the weekends. The huge parking lot for Sabino Canyon was almost filled by the time we arrived at 9 am on a Saturday. Hike early or during the week for a smaller crowd.

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Hiking the Seven Falls Trail in Tucson, Arizona

Be prepared to get wet when the water is flowing!

What to Bring on the Seven Falls Trail

The Seven Falls Trail goes through several creek crossings and you’re mostly exposed to full sun, so you’ll want to be prepared. Here are our recommendations on what to wear and pack with you for the 7 Falls hike.

  • Quick-dry Hiking Shorts: Water at the creek crossings went up to my knees, so I was glad I wore shorts to stay dry. If the water level in Sabino Creek is low, it probably means warmer weather, so I’d still wear shorts. I really like these women’s hiking shorts from Gap (not too short and not too baggy) and Aaron’s a fan of these lightweight, fast-drying men’s shorts from RVCA.
  • Shoes or sandals to get wet: The hiking path crosses Sabino Creek seven times each way. With higher water levels, there really is no way to avoid getting your feet wet. Other hikers crossed the creek with shoes on because it’s time-consuming to take your shoes off each time. I hate hiking in soggy shoes, so I started by stripping my tennis shoes off each time. Eventually, I left my shoes off and hiked barefoot for a few of the crossings that run close together where the trail is soft and sandy. It’s probably not the brightest idea as there is plenty of cactus around, but I didn’t end up with anything stuck in my foot. Next time, we’re bringing hiking sandals we don’t have to take off. I (Kelly) am a fan of my Chaco’s, Aaron likes his Teva’s, and Hudson wears these Keen Kids sandals practically everywhere.
A Weekend Getaway in Tucson, Arizona | Where to stay, hike, play and eat in Tucson | Seven Falls Trail in Sabino Canyon
Seven Falls Trail in Sabino Canyon | Hiking in Tucson, Arizona
  • Swimwear: If you plan on hopping into the creek along the way or waterfalls and pools at the top.
  • Sun Protection: Including a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. I mentioned before that we hiked in February, but it was still warm and very sunny. 
  • Water: And lots of it. Though it’s not a particularly strenuous trail, it is long and most of the path is in direct sunlight. It started to feel warm even in February. Bring an insulated, reusable bottle to keep your water cool, like a Hydro Flask, or a larger water reservoir (I really like this Platypus reservoir with a larger zip top) if you tend to need a lot of water.
  • Hiking Carrier for Kids: If  you are hiking with babies or toddlers, you’re going to want a baby carrier or hiking carrier for this one. Our son was small enough that I just used my Ergobaby carrier (the Cool Air Mesh Ergobaby is great for hikes since it’s really lightweight and breathable). For toddlers a bit older, we recommend the Deuter Kid Comfort
Hiking the Seven Falls Trail in Tucson, Arizona

Rock-hopping over the freezing cold river

Hiking Difficulty

The Seven Falls Trail in Tucson is rated medium due to the 8.2-mile distance and the creek crossings. Taking the tram almost cuts the hike in half (1.8 miles off each way), making the hike only 4.6 miles RT.

Plan about 4 hours for this hike without the tram unless you’re a trail runner. If you’re hiking with a little kid that likes to run the opposite direction, I’d plan around 5 hours.

Getting to the Seven Falls Trail

The Seven Falls Trail is 15 miles northwest of downtown Tucson in the Coronado National Forest. Park in the Sabino Canyon parking lot, which costs $5 for a day pass. From the parking lot, head east and follow the signs for Seven Falls Trail. The formal name for the path is Bear Canyon Trail, FS #29, but most of the signage uses the Seven Falls Trail name.

Address: 5900 N Sabino Canyon Rd, Tucson, AZ 85750

There are bathrooms and water fountains near the parking lot. Note that dogs are not allowed in the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. This includes the Seven Falls Trail. 

Seven Falls Trail in Sabino Canyon | Hiking in Tucson, Arizona

Seven Falls Trail

The first 1.8 miles of the trail is the wide and flat tram road. After reaching the Seven Falls Trailhead, there is a gentle incline as the path crosses Sabino Creek seven times. Depending on how high the water is, you may be able to use rocks to hop across at some of the creek crossing. For quite a few, we had to walk through the water. We ended up taking off our shoes and socks, but you could also opt for something you don’t mind getting wet. 

After the last creek crossing, we hiked a series of switchbacks to climb up the side of Bear Canyon. The overall elevation gain up to Seven Falls is 917 feet. Soon the falls came into view and we finished the hike where the water was splashing down onto the rocks and forming big swimming pools. If you are planning on jumping in, just know that the water isn’t dirty; it gets its golden brown color from the tannins in the oaks on Mt. Lemmon.

This trail is in the Sonoran Desert, so you’ll see tons of saguaro, cholla, and ocotillo.

Lookup up at Seven Falls Tucson Arizona

Catch the Tram for a shorter hike

If you really want to make it up to Seven Falls but don’t want to hike the full 8 miles, then you can take advantage of the tram in Sabino Canyon. The tram runs along two trails: the Sabino Canyon Trail and the Bear Canyon Trail. If you take the tram along the the Bear Canyon Trail route, you can hop off about 2 miles in, at the official start of Seven Falls Trail. This cuts off about half of the trail, so you’ll only have about 2 more miles to go to make it to the Falls. On the way back you can wait for the tram at the same spot you hopped off, or walk the two miles back to the visitor center and parking lot. 

The tram costs $4 per adult and $2 for children ages 3-12. It runs every hour on the hour starting at 9 am and ends at 4 pm or 4:30 pm, depending on the season. 

Have any questions about hiking the Seven Falls Trail? Let us know below. I think this is one of the best hikes in Tucson, so I wouldn’t miss it!

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Hiking the Seven Falls Trail in Tucson, Arizona

Seven Falls Trail in Sabino Canyon | Hiking in Tucson, Arizona

Hiking with kids at 7 Falls Tucson

A Weekend Getaway to Tucson, Arizona | Where to stay, hike, play and eat in Tucson | Seven Falls Trail in Sabino Canyon

A Weekend Getaway to Tucson, Arizona | Where to stay, hike, play and eat in Tucson | Seven Falls Trail in Sabino Canyon

Hiking the Seven Falls Trail in Tucson, Arizona

Hiking the Seven Falls Trail in Tucson, Arizona


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Hiking the Seven Falls Trail in Tucson, Arizona
Hiking the Seven Falls Trail in Tucson, Arizona

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24 Comments

  • Reply Julie March 20, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    OMG I love how your son is such the adventurer! Mine is totally the beach baby only, haha. This looks like a great trail and thanks for all the details!

    • Reply nomanbefore March 20, 2017 at 9:48 pm

      Ha, I think he would have all beach all the time if he could! We went hiking last weekend and he kept stopping to dig in the dirt. I think he wished it was sand!

  • Reply Darla April 14, 2017 at 10:01 am

    Do you guys live in Tucson?

    • Reply nomanbefore April 14, 2017 at 1:01 pm

      Just visiting. 🙂 Seems like a nice place to live though!

  • Reply Agness of aTukTuk May 21, 2017 at 11:23 am

    This seems like an awesome trail, Kelly and Aaron! Thanks for the informational post. I will add this trail on my bucket list!

    • Reply nomanbefore May 22, 2017 at 8:18 am

      Hi Agness! This is a really fun trail! Late winter, early spring is the best time to go so you can see the waterfalls at their fullest.

  • Reply The Ultimate Arizona Bucket List: 101 Things To Do in the Grand Canyon State | No Man Before June 16, 2017 at 10:25 pm

    […] Hike Seven Falls Trail in Sabino Canyon […]

  • Reply A Weekend Getaway in Tucson, Arizona August 5, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    […] The hike is 8.2 miles round trip leaving from the  Sabino Canyon parking lot. It’s $5 for a one day parking pass. We spent five-and-a-half hours on this out-and-back trail, but we let our one-and-a-half year old walk the first and last mile as this portion of the path is wide and flat. He’s pretty fast, but often likes to run in the opposite direction. We probably ended up walking this part of the trail a few times over. At a steady pace, I’d plan about 4 hours for the hike. For more information and pictures, see our post on the Seven Falls Trail here. […]

  • Reply Monica August 29, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    Do you think someone can do this hike with a walker ?

    • Reply nomanbefore August 30, 2017 at 7:29 am

      Hi Monica, I wouldn’t recommend trying to do this hike with a walker. There are a number of river crossings, and the trail does get somewhat steep near the end. There are several trails leading out from the Sabino Canyon visitors center that are either paved or flat gravel that you could do. There is also a tram tour that takes you through the desert.

      • Reply Monica August 30, 2017 at 9:45 am

        My husband has MS and doesn’t walk well.. I want to find away to let him see the world and all these beautiful spots that god has created for us… Thank you for responding. I very much appreciate it. 🙂

  • Reply Alison January 22, 2018 at 4:51 pm

    Is there a place to rent all terrain wheelchairs?

    • Reply nomanbefore January 22, 2018 at 6:22 pm

      Hi Alison, I haven’t been able to find any information about all terrain wheelchair rentals at Sabino Canyon, but the tram tour is a great option for those that need more assistance. The Sabino Canyon tram tour is a narrated 45 minute tour that covers the initial part of the Seven Falls Trail. See below for a link with more info about the tram tour. Hope it helps!

      http://www.sabinocanyon.com/

      • Reply Alison January 22, 2018 at 6:36 pm

        Thank you!

  • Reply Naseem February 3, 2018 at 2:59 pm

    Can dogs go on this hike?

  • Reply Vicki February 15, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    Curious to know what time of year did you go? I would like to go when there is an actual waterfall. 🙂

    • Reply Kelly Barcus February 15, 2018 at 1:53 pm

      We went last February. Seems like winter is best to see the waterfalls, but I’m sure every year is different depending on the amount of snow/rain.

  • Reply Nancy Glaser October 9, 2018 at 7:22 pm

    Can you rent a pony and ride to seven falls?

    • Reply nomanbefore October 10, 2018 at 8:56 pm

      Hi Nancy, unfortunately, I don’t think you can. I didn’t see any horses on the trail (or evidence of them), and the path does get a bit steep and narrow at the end.
      If you’re interested in doing something other than hiking, there is a 45-minute narrated tram tour through Sabino Canyon that covers the initial part of the Seven Falls Trail. See below for a link with more info about the tram tour. Hope this helps!
      http://www.sabinocanyon.com/

  • Reply 5 Easy Hikes You Can't Miss Near Mesa, Arizona February 7, 2019 at 11:42 pm

    […] squeeze in a hike or two. We’ve hiked all over the state, from the Grand Canyon down to Seven Falls in Tucson, but the trails near my childhood home are still my favorites. If you’re […]

  • Reply Nicole LaBarge August 24, 2019 at 8:13 pm

    What a fabulous hike. I’ll have to check it out next time I am in Tucson.

  • Reply Scottsdale, Arizona Travel Guide November 29, 2019 at 9:08 pm

    […] Hiking the Seven Falls Trail in Tucson, Arizona […]

  • Reply 11 Best Tucson Hiking Trails March 18, 2020 at 10:29 pm

    […] Read this hiking guide for more information on the Seven Falls Trail.   […]

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