Of course my perspective is biased because I have been a Tucson native my entire life, but I would think Tucson to be much more advantageous to a hiker (depending on what is important to one in terms of hiking opportunities). I have been to Phoenix many times, hiked Camelback Mountain and seen parts of the Superstitions, and quite honestly, I was not impressed. Firstly, there are no true forests for at least a 30 mile radius. A relatively short drive from anywhere in Tucson will take you to high-elevation mixed conifer and ponderosa pine forests, or, one can hike to 9,157-ft. Mount Lemmon in less than a day's time. It is also nice to have the option of a nearby summertime escape, rather than being forced to pack up the car and drive for at least an hour to find shelter from the brain-frying heat. Lastly, Tucson is surrounded by mountain ranges in all directions, and they all have their own distinct qualities, so one has a more diverse array of flora and fauna to observe.
I have also taken the opportunity to do some urban hiking in Tucson, which I think is much more exciting than walking around the asphalt jungle of metro Phoenix. A jaunt down the Rillito River on the north side of the city provides excellent views of the mountain ranges, and an interesting observation of the desert-urban interface. The more intellectual of urban hikers in Tucson will find such a trip to be a sufficient indicator of the city's sprawl, and how the growth of the urban infrastructure is affecting the natural properties of the desert.
Phoenix certainly has its share of hiking opportunities, but in sum, I see Tucson as being the more diverse of the two in terms of natural areas.
Last edited by Wildcat04
on May 25 2003 3:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.