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Sabino Dam, AZ

Guide 81 Triplogs  0 Topics
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Difficulty 1 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 3 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,700 feet
Elevation Gain 10 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 3.05
Interest Seasonal Creek
Backpack No
Dogs not allowed
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46  2020-03-21
Sabino Canyon Outing
8  2019-12-25 paulhubbard
4  2018-11-05 gummo
6  2016-12-22 Timknorr
8  2014-08-26 winotron
14  2014-06-22 Timknorr
26  2013-09-19
Sabino Lower Canyon Trails
16  2013-05-06 Timknorr
Page 1,  2
Author PhilipMueller
author avatar Guides 15
Routes 5
Photos 926
Trips 53 map ( 310 miles )
Age 45 Male Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
Associated Areas
list map done
Sabino Canyon Recreation Area
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Feb, Mar, Apr, May → 7 AM
Seasons   ALL
Sun  6:09am - 6:24pm
Official Route
3 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimeteracres
🔥 2003 Aspen Fire87.7 mi*

Easy Access to Water
by PhilipMueller

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If you are in Tucson and are looking for some easy access to water in the desert, check out the short lasso loop hike to the Sabino Dam. After stopping at the Sabino Canyon Visitor Center & Bookstore amble down Bear Canyon Trail for 0.8 miles. The trail runs parallel with the road, but except for the occasional tourist tram, you're away from modernity and focused on the views of the Pusch Ridge Wilderness in the distance and the rich Sonoran Desert flora in the foreground. Head north off of Bear Canyon Trail onto Sabino Lake Trail and you'll walk above and parallel to the creek for about 0.6 miles. Shortly after passing Bluff Trail, which you can take to Upper Sabino Canyon Road, you'll cross the creek and head south on Sabino Dam Trail. On Sabino Dam Trail, you are pretty much walking in the creek bed for 0.3 miles to the dam. It's like a mini-mini Aravaipa with trees lining the water's edge and canyon walls framing the scene. Lots of great spots in those 3 tenths of a mile to relax in the shade, splash in the water, or soak up some sun--whatever your pleasure. Just beyond the dam, you have to make your own trail for about 0.1 mile west across the creek and climb back up to Sabino Lake Trail, on which you retrace your path back to the visitor center.

This is a great hike to do in the spring. You get to see lots of wildflowers and blooming cacti on your way to the dam, and you have a nice amount of water in which to cool off once you get there. Other times of the year could work, too, but spring is probably best. All of the trails are really well marked and groomed, and the hiking is overall relaxingly horizontal. If you want Sonoran Desert magic fast and easy, this hike is for you.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2008-04-23 PhilipMueller
  • Sabino Canyon Recreation Area Map
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    Sabino Canyon Recreation Area Map
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Permit $$
Visit this link for full details.
2021 - FAQ
$8 per vehicle per day
$10 per vehicle per week
$40 per vehicle per year (valid for one year from date of purchase)

There are four specific day use areas that require a Coronado Recreational Pass or a National Pass/America the Beautiful Pass.
1) Sabino Canyon - located on the Santa Catalina Ranger District (520)749-8700
2) Madera Canyon - located on the Nogales Ranger District (520)281-2296
3) Cave Creek - located on the Douglas Ranger District (520)364-3468
4) Mt. Lemmon at 11 day-use sites.

2021 Catalina State Park
Per vehicle (1-4 Adults): $7.00
Individual/bicycle: $3.00

2021 Sabino Canyon Tram is $12 extra. [ website ]

Coronado Forest
MVUMs are rarely necessary to review unless mentioned in the description or directions
Coronado Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs)

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
From Tanque Verde Road in Tucson turn north on Sabino Canyon Road and follow it 4 miles to the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area Visitor Center.
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