The Seven Falls Trail is a moderate length hike that starts at the Sabino Canyon Visitor Center. It is considered one of the most popular hikes in Arizona and offers breathtaking views of seven waterfalls that flow most of the year. The hike is set in a deep canyon in the desert, surrounded by impressive granite walls.
- Distance: 8.7 miles out and back. 3-4 miles less if you take the tram
- Hike Time: 4-5 hours. Allow yourself time to swim!
- Elevation Gain/Loss: 810 feet
- Fee: $5 per day per vehicle
- Dogs: No
- Difficulty: Moderate. Can be difficult if the water is high
Seven Falls is one of the best hikes the Tucson area has to offer. It begins at the Sabino Canyon Visitor Center and takes you on a two mile walk through beautiful Sonoran Desert scenery to the official Seven Falls trailhead. You can bypass this section by hitching a ride on the tram, but the walk is rather docile and well worth the opportunity to spot cactus blossoms, Costa’s hummingbirds, and the other delights of Sabino Canyon.
Tip: Love hummingbirds? Learn how to make a DIY portable feeder.
From the Seven Falls trailhead, it is a little over two miles to Seven Falls. Bring water friendly shoes – The route includes seven river crossings each way, with a gradual ascent over a well-established foot path. Depending on the time of year, the crossings may only dampen your soles or soak you to the waist.
The canyon is an excellent example of a desert riparian zone. Perennial water flow provides for lush vegetation and abundant wildlife. You will notice a sharp contrast to the dry mountains that surround this verdant valley. Keep your eyes out for the roadrunners that frequent the area, and if you are lucky, you might even spot a bighorn sheep!
Your shoes will still be squelching as you ascend a final set of switchbacks, but your efforts are about to pay off – the canyon opens to a stunning amphitheater of towering cliffs. At the center, the falls snake down into a an ice cold pool that is just begging to be swum in. Reward yourself with a dip in the water or just lay back on the warm rocks and soak in the tranquility of this desert oasis.
Be mindful of the slippery rocks surrounding the pool, and tread carefully around spillways if you decide to climb up to view the falls from above.
The hike begins at Sabino Canyon Visitor Center, with the option to take a tram to the Seven Falls Trail and skip the first section. As an alternative, you can also approach from the Bear Canyon Trailhead.
Gear to Bring
Don’t show up underprepared for this one. People frequently have to get rescued from this canyon. The route is rugged and at water crossings, the rocks are slippery. Bring hiking shoes or sandals that provide good traction and trekking poles to help with stability.
- Water: There is plenty of water along the Seven Falls Trail, but make sure to treat it. Otherwise, carry a gallon per person.
- Best Time to Travel: September through May to avoid the hottest months. That being said, you will encounter fewer crowds during unfavorable conditions.
- Safety: Check for flash flood warnings and know the forecast before you go.