Hike | Sabino Canyon | Tucson

Trail Stats

  • Length:  16.4 miles (round trip) **Tram ride will shave off 7.6 miles if you choose to ride it both ways**
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Trailhead Elevation:  3,300 ft.
  • Gain/Loss:  -550 ft.
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Dog Friendly: No

Trail Description

Sabino Canyon is one of the most popular and spectacular canyons in the Santa Catalina wilderness. This canyon is home to Hutch's Pool and has plenty to offer including mountain vistas, beautiful red rock, desert flora and fauna, and a large flowing creek. The canyon and creek can be observed by hikers, bikers, joggers, and tram riders.

The journey to Hutch's Pool begins at the busy Sabino Canyon Recreation Center where you can purchase a daily use pass for your vehicle for $5 (As of 2015). A paved road runs 3.8 miles into the canyon and crosses 9 stone bridges over Sabino Creek before the actual Sabino Canyon #23 trail begins. A fee of $8 (As of 2015) can be purchased to ride the tram to the end of the pavement or hikers can take Phoneline Trail #27 which runs along the southern side of the tram road until it meets up with Sabino Canyon trail.

Once on the Sabino Canyon Trail #23 it is a quick 2.6 mile hike up and down to the canyon floor. Along the trail you will see beautiful Ocotillo's, wildflowers, and large Saguaro's. The trail begins with a few easy switchbacks and then wraps around and into the canyon. When the trail descends into Sabino Creek look out for cairns (stacked rocks) to help guide you through the creek bed. From here there are a couple of options. You can head east and take the East Fork Trail which will connect to Bear Canyon Trail or you can head west up the West Fork towards Hutch's Pool. On this trip we decided to go west and swim at Hutch's pool.

After you cross the creek bed and onto the West Fork Trail you will stay on the north side of the creek for about .5 miles and then cross to the southern side. Once on the southern side you will begin to see an abundance of greenery that is fed by the scenic Sabino Creek. After hiking for 1.6 miles you will come to an unmarked trail that forks to the right (towards the creek) which leads to Hutch's Pool. Turn right and head towards the creek. Hike about 1/4 of a mile and to the right you will see a small waterfall that feeds the long and narrow pool called Hutch's Pool. This is quite a sight to behold in the desert and a very refreshing one as well. Once you have enjoyed the pool you can continue up the West Fork and make a loop to Esperero Canyon or you can go back the way you came. On this trip we stayed the night in one of the few campsites along the creek.

Absolutely love this hike! One of my favorites for just about any time of year. It is a moderate hike with a great reward at the end. Hutch's Pool is deep, refreshing, and beautiful. I love this area for all the scenery, wildflowers, flowing streams, and overall great desert hiking. If you are in Tucson, get out and try this hike!

hiking tips

  • Bring a swimsuit
  • Try to plan your trip early in the morning to be the first one to Hutch's pool
  • If you are staying overnight there are about a dozen cool, sandy spots to set up camp near the creek
  • If you are staying the night it is worth it to purchase the weekly parking  pass because it is the same price as two day passes
  • Pick up your trash
  • Follow the cairns (stacked rocks) through the creek crossings and you can't get lost
  • If you do take the tram, take it all the way to Stop #9 which is the last stop

map to trailhead

Directions: From the Phoenix area, take HWY 87 North towards Payson. Once in Payson, take HWY 260 east toward the town of Christopher Creek, AZ. About 25 miles from Payson, near mile marker 277, make a right turn on paved Colcord Road (FR 291). Drive 1.3 miles and park next to the telephone line on the right side of the road.

 

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TucsonCameron JarmanComment