Chiva Falls is an outstanding waterfall in the shadow of the Rincon Mountains east of Tucson. Found in Joaquin Canyon, it only flows after heavy rain events, periods of consistent rainfall, or during snowmelt.
Accessed from Redington Road, visitors must find their way to Chiva Falls by navigating a series of harrowing jeep trails. I mean it when I say this; there are some tough sections of road here that will destroy your vehicle if you are ill-equipped or unexperienced.
As you might expect, many people opt for lifted 4×4 rigs, UTVs, and ATVs but others get there by foot or mountain bike. I wrote this guide for people interested in hiking to Chiva Falls. To avoid the bulk of vehicular activity on the way, I recommend going on a weekday and getting an early morning start.
- Distance: 8.7 miles out and back
- Hike Time: 4-5 hours
- Elevation Gain: 690 feet
- Fee: Free
- Dogs: Yes
- Difficulty: Moderate
From the parking lot/trailhead, take the jeep trail on the east side of Redington Road, marked #4417. Follow it about 2 miles until you reach Chiva Tank, a small reservoir that is sometimes filled with water. To the right, there is a single track footpath you can use to bypass a small portion of the vehicular route.
After a short walk, the footpath meets back up with a jeep trail marked #4426 – High Rd. Follow this for a few paces then immediately bear right onto #4055 – Mesa De La Osa. Almost right away, you will drop down into a gully and cross Tanque Verde Canyon.
Note: Further down this drainage, there is a wonderful hike to another beautiful waterfall called Tanque Verde Falls.
Once you have ascended back out of Tanque Verde Canyon, continue following #4405 for a half mile until you reach another junction. Stay to the left on #4405A and Chiva Falls will soon come into view.
From here, you can head left or right to reach the base of the falls. For the extra adventurous, there is a way up to a cave behind Chiva Falls found to the right. It requires a Class 2 scramble over slippery exposed granite, so proceed with caution.
From Tucson, drive east on Speedway Boulevard then turn left onto Houghton Road. After 1.1 miles, turn right onto Tanque Verde Road. When Tanque Verde Road crosses Wentworth Road it becomes Redington Road. After 3.5 miles of pavement, Redington Road becomes unpaved. At this point, reset your odometer and continue 4.1 miles to reach a corral. Park in the lot to the right of it at Chiva Falls Trailhead.
Gear to Bring
Don’t show up underprepared for this one. It’s a long haul to the falls and you’ll encounter lots of sun exposure. Bring a hat, hiking shoes or sandals that provide good traction and trekking poles to help with stability.