Tucson vs. Phoenix

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Which city do you think is a better place for a hiking-minded person to live- Phoenix, or Tucson

Phoenix
84
56%
Tucson
66
44%
 
Total votes: 150

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Lizard
Posts: 189
Joined: Feb 05 2002 6:40 pm
City, State: Phoenix, AZ

Tucson vs. Phoenix

Post by Lizard »

An interesting topic came up last night while I was talking to a friend. Which city do you think is a better place for a hiking-minded person to live- Phoenix, or Tucson? Why?

I'll post my own answer, but I'm curious to see what others have to say first.

Lizard
"Of course we weren't lost. We were merely where we shouldn't have been, without knowing exactly where that was."
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MaryPhyl
Posts: 237
Joined: Apr 29 2002 7:58 am
City, State: Flagstaff, AZ

Post by MaryPhyl »

I would choose Tucson. Nearby hiking is much better and it has retained it's small town laid back atmosphere--Phoenix is too hectic and I avoid going there. We lived on Tucson in the early 70s when we were in school and liked it very much. My parents both went to school there too so I guess it is a family thing. My grandparents went to school right here in Flagstaff and Flagstaff is where I choose to live. If the canyon is in your soul Flagstaff is the place to be. You will have mountain lungs and all which help a bunch in that canyon.
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ellehcim
Posts: 96
Joined: Dec 01 2002 8:38 pm
City, State: Mesa, AZ

Post by ellehcim »

Wildcat04 wrote: 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.
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.
Now, Now.... You can hike in and around Squaw peak and still have the feeling of being completely alone in the wilderness... sans planes flying about. You just have to take the circumferance trail...

And if you are hiking south mountain from the west side of the national trail, there are places where you would not believe yourself to be in a metropolis!!! I have watched wild havalina (sp) climb up and away from me, seen cayotes (sp) walk across my trail, stare at my dog companion and then scratch themselves....

I think the best place to be is Phoenix, cause we can do all that within 3 minutes and then visit ya'll on a weekend ;]
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mjmann
Posts: 43
Joined: Apr 14 2002 6:37 am
City, State: Chandler, AZ

Post by mjmann »

Well...personally I prefer Tucson. I think the hiking around Sabino Canyon is some of the most beautiful trails in AZ. Don't forget Mount Lemmon, the Dragoons...etc.

Hike to Seven Falls (especially when the water runs in full force) and you'll know what I mean.

My vote goes for Tucson and the surrounding area...I think the mountain ranges there are much more scenic. That's my opinion...and I'm stickin' to it!... :gun:

Marty
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Wildcat04
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Joined: Feb 24 2003 9:59 pm

Post by Wildcat04 »

ellehcim wrote:
And if you are hiking south mountain from the west side of the national trail, there are places where you would not believe yourself to be in a metropolis!!! I have watched wild havalina (sp) climb up and away from me, seen cayotes (sp) walk across my trail, stare at my dog companion and then scratch themselves....

I think the best place to be is Phoenix, cause we can do all that within 3 minutes and then visit ya'll on a weekend ;]
havalina= javelina
cayotes= coyotes

Wow, seems pretty amazing that you can do all that in 3 minutes. Seems to me one would want to spend more than 3 minutes hiking, not to mention in cleaner air.
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RedRoxx44
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Joined: Feb 15 2003 8:07 am
City, State: outside, anywhere

Post by RedRoxx44 »

My vote is Tucson- much better is southern utah- I don't want to see many people when I hike. You can get into the wilderness quickly just outside of Tucson and go to the Chiricahuas, Santa Ritas, Catalinas, San Pedro wilderness, Miller Peak wilderness and Galiluros pretty quickly. Of course I've been in southern utah and not seen another person for five days. It was great- I almost forgot how to talk when I drove into the gas station after doing the wilderness thing.
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domromer
Posts: 119
Joined: Aug 16 2005 7:58 pm
City, State: Flagstaff

Post by domromer »

1:Payson
2:Flagstaff
3:Phoenix
4:Tucson
5:Prescott
6:Sedona
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PaleoRob
Posts: 2342
Joined: Apr 03 2006 12:21 pm
City, State: Grand Junction, CO
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Post by PaleoRob »

In response to RedRoxx44's reply:
S. Utah gets my vote, but for in-state, I'd have to vote Flag (if it was an option).
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azbackpackr
Posts: 8278
Joined: Jan 21 2006 6:46 am
City, State: Flagstaff AZ

Post by azbackpackr »

I was surprised anyone would pick Phoenix, but when I read the reasons I could understand. But the hiking around Tucson is great, and you can be in the pines in 45 minutes in summer. Also there used to be some great swimming holes, but drought and fire have made them less attractive in recent years. And you can hike into real wilderness right from the edge of town, like the one guy said. That is a real neat feeling.

I lived in Tucson for 13 years so I'm comfortable there, whereas I'm a fish out of water in Phoenix, and haven't hiked around there much except in the Supes. I think our biases might be based partly on our familiarity (or lack thereof) with the two areas.
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zonagoph
Posts: 17
Joined: Apr 25 2005 8:23 am
City, State: Phoenix, AZ

Post by zonagoph »

I never thought I'd say this.. but I gotta defend Phoenix. As a Flagstaff resident through the 90's, my hiking heart will always be with the north country. I mean, for two years, I was able to commute to work using my mountain bike on true single track! Nothing beats that! The trails leaving out of Buffalo Park were easy to navigate and always scenic (pre MacMillan Mesa development). However, what good are all those glorious trails if the forest is closed?!? In my time there, that happened at least twice. That, and the housing situation, are two of the reasons that led me to PHX.

Tucson is nice too, the vistas and trails are numerous, but I haven't hiked around there enough to truly form an informed opinion on the hiking. Are all of those great trails in the Catalinas accesible without paying extra?

But Phoenix, man, let me tell you, almost anything within an hour. Desert, peaks, lakes. More parkland set aside than any city in the U.S. Great views and sunrises/sets (ps, awesome recent pix Joe). Loop trails to hit any preferred distance or time. Plus- we can still get to FLG and TUC for easy day or weekend trips.

Let's face it. You can be almost anywhere in AZ and be near a hiking heaven. We sure are lucky!!
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clutch7
Posts: 8
Joined: Jul 01 2003 10:30 am
City, State: Tucson, AZ

Post by clutch7 »

Nighthiker wrote:Phoenix. More choices and easier to get out of town.
I think it's harder to get out of town in Phoenix. Nothing kills the hiking mood like a traffic jam.

This IS a good question. I've given it quite a bit of thought and I choose Tucson, but that may be because I think it has a higher quality of life than Phoenix, in general. That said, Phoenix does have more unique hiking options as was stated earlier, but Tucson has numerous high-quality options, as well. Many of those options offer solitude and a true wilderness experience, whether day hiking or backpacking, and that's important to me. Also, Each of the sky islands in SE Arizona are unique, in their own right. The Chiricahuas, the Dragoons, and the Galiueros rival any trifecta to be found in this state.

Obviously, part of the answer to this question depends on what you enjoy most about hiking.
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joebartels
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Joined: Nov 20 1996 12:00 pm
City, State: Phoenix, AZ

Post by joebartels »

In response to clutch7's reply: whew! I don't know clutch

Tucson / Phoenix may be close on this poll but I bet most agree Phoenix blows away Tucson in travel ease.

Tucson made the decision long ago to be anti sprawl by lack of freeways. That's a whole 'nutha topic. All I'll say is I moved twenty some miles south four years ago to be closer to Tucson and it didn't pay off. I can get to Marana in a flash. From Marana to an upper Catalina trailhead or whatnot takes forever, the lights are never in sync. Who decided double right hand turn lanes are more important than moving forward (okay only a few instances) And could we get a street that goes straight with one name :lol:

On the other hand there's a bunch of cool HAZ members down in Tucson so it must be on the up and up. I couldn't live without the experiences Lizard, RedRoxx and Nickfraley to name a few have shared over the years. Also gotta admit some of the desert hikes(which most don't like) have a peaceful serene feeling to them. BTW... It's good to hear from you again!
- joe
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big_load
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Joined: Oct 28 2003 11:20 am
City, State: Andover, NJ

Post by big_load »

joe bartels wrote: Tucson / Phoenix may be close on this poll but I bet most agree Phoenix blows away Tucson in travel ease.
That's true most of the day, but hikers are supposed move out at the crack of dawn, when Tucson traffic flows relatively free (said the night person). I like different things about both towns, but I'd still probably give Phoenix the edge.
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joebartels
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Joined: Nov 20 1996 12:00 pm
City, State: Phoenix, AZ

Post by joebartels »

That's a good point!

I think I'm still bitter from being detoured by construction umptine times, but it's all good now :)
- joe
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fricknaley
Posts: 432
Joined: Jun 20 2003 4:07 pm
City, State: Tucson, AZ

Post by fricknaley »

joe bartels wrote:
On the other hand there's a bunch of cool HAZ members down in Tucson so it must be on the up and up. I couldn't live without the experiences Lizard, RedRoxx and Nickfraley to name a few have shared over the years. Also gotta admit some of the desert hikes(which most don't like) have a peaceful serene feeling to them. BTW... It's good to hear from you again!
Thanks for the kind words joe, I'm happy to try and give people a feel of what's cool about Tucson and southern Arizona hiking. I always think it's worth a trip down here now and then. I definitely like to make periodic trips up your way as well, cause I gotta admit Phoenix hiking rocks too.
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clutch7
Posts: 8
Joined: Jul 01 2003 10:30 am
City, State: Tucson, AZ

Post by clutch7 »

Thanks for the words of welcome. I keep a personal hiking journal, documenting trail conditons, etc...which makes me more of a lurker here, unfortunately. However, this is absolutely the best hiking site for Arizona, or anywhere else, for that matter. It's well-designed and the participants are more civil and more knowledgeable than on other Arizona sites. You do a great job managing the site, Joe.

To explain my previous traffic comments: I grew up back East and was disappointed with Tucson's lack of freeways when I first moved here; however, I now see some positives in that lack of freeway development. I'm a biker, as well as a hiker, and biking around Tucson can be tremendously pleasant and relatively free from major interaction between bikers and motorists, if you plan your routes (there are numereous options, usually). A large network of freeways, as in Phoenix, creates obstacles for bikers and tend to segregate communities, in general. As an urban planning enthusiast, I understand the problems of both approaches, but I think the strategy of building more roads becomes less beneficial over time, though it is the prevailing response to urban growth in the West. I must admit that Tucson could use an East/West freeway but part of what I like about Tucson is the sense of community that permeates many of the older neighborhoods here. Like tree rings, this city's growth history can be experienced as you travel out from the city, from neighborhood to neighborhood. Much of that "community" and that history would be lost if freeways had been built indiscriminately, as in Phoenix, which admittedly has experienced far more growth than Tucson. On the other hand, congestion is becoming a problem here, and Tucson must follow through with the transportation plan that just passed, if it has any hope of growing healthily into the future.

As for getting to/from hiking destinations, I agree with the earlier poster who noted that hikers usually leave early so traffic is less of a factor. That said, the "rush hour" window in Phoenix is far larger than here in Tucson and that is was the reason for my earlier comments. It is very easy to avoid traffic jams here, particularly if you know the area, and there is almost never stop-and-go type jams that most cities of this size deal with on a daily basis. In addition, I live centrally, in downtown Tucson and can easily reach trailheads in the Rincons, the Catalinas, and the Tucson Mountains in 20 minutes or less. Trailheads along the back-side of the Rincons (a personal favorite) and the Santa Ritas can be reached in 40 minutes or so, with little to no traffic problems.

I must admit that I know less about traveling to/from trailheads in Phoenix, while starting from within the city. However, I imagine that a central location there is not that same as a central location in Tucson, since the Valley of the Sun is so much larger. I know there are trailheads that are only minutes away from different areas of the city, but my experience has been that those trails are exceedingly crowded, particularly on weekends and that you have to drive fairly long distances to reach wilderness areas or low-use trails. For example, I have enjoyed a couple hikes on the eastern side of the Superstitions, but that's at least a 40 min drive from downtown Phoenix and probably longer with traffic being what it is in the East Valley (just a guess on my part).

When I have visitors here in Tucson, I have a couple of beautiful trails that I show them, both of which are 15 minutes from house, and we usually have the trails to ourselves.

I've enjoyed reading through this topic and agree that both have their merits. For longer travel times to trailheads, I think Phoenix has more variety, particularly with the perennial streams that are relatively close, but Tucson and the surrounding sky islands are a better fit for me. I do plan to explore the hiking options in the Phoenix area, as time permits, so maybe I'll change my mind.
joe bartels wrote:In response to clutch7's reply: whew! I don't know clutch

Tucson / Phoenix may be close on this poll but I bet most agree Phoenix blows away Tucson in travel ease.

Tucson made the decision long ago to be anti sprawl by lack of freeways. That's a whole 'nutha topic. All I'll say is I moved twenty some miles south four years ago to be closer to Tucson and it didn't pay off. I can get to Marana in a flash. From Marana to an upper Catalina trailhead or whatnot takes forever, the lights are never in sync. Who decided double right hand turn lanes are more important than moving forward (okay only a few instances) And could we get a street that goes straight with one name :lol:

On the other hand there's a bunch of cool HAZ members down in Tucson so it must be on the up and up. I couldn't live without the experiences Lizard, RedRoxx and Nickfraley to name a few have shared over the years. Also gotta admit some of the desert hikes(which most don't like) have a peaceful serene feeling to them. BTW... It's good to hear from you again!
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azbackpackr
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Joined: Jan 21 2006 6:46 am
City, State: Flagstaff AZ

Post by azbackpackr »

I just don't see it. Tucson has the Catalinas and Rincons right there, with choices to hike at any altitude any day of the year, from 2600 feet up to over 9,000, all within 15 to 45 minutes of town. And it's real wilderness, too, and there are quite a few swimming holes in late monsoon within less than 5 miles hike. If you live on the north side of town, you can put on your overnight pack and walk through the wilderness boundary within a few minutes, hike uphill and you can go hiking up through all the bio-zones until you are up in the aspens and spruce. You can't do that in Phoenix! At least, not within 20 miles of hiking!

I do see what people are saying about Phoenix being more centrally located, if you want to go up around the Verde Valley or on up to Flag or Grand Canyon. But for hikes right next to town that gain some real altitude and take you up to the pines, Tucson has Phoenix beat. Tucson traffic has gotten a bit worse since I quit living there. (Now there's an idea! MOVE to the mtns. (and be poor!) I highly recommend it! :) By the way, after living in Eagar in the White Mtns. I have discovered it takes almost exactly the same amt. of time for me to get to my son's place in central Phoenix as it does to get to my brother's place in Tucson. Actually, NW Tucson a bit closer--about 4 hours, as opposed to 4 1/2 to Phx.)
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Hakatai
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Joined: Jun 25 2006 12:57 pm
City, State: Tucson, AZ

Post by Hakatai »

The idea that Phoenix is more centrally located is a no-brainer, just look at the map. Getting to the Grand Canyon and N Az is quicker, but the proximity to the Tonto NF is Phx's biggest asset. But what Tucson has, in spades, are peaks. Lots of people from Phoenix and points north haven't checked out the lesser known ranges like the Winchesters, Whetstones. Even the better known ranges such as the Galiuros and Dragoons don't get alot of Phx hikers. They don't get alot of hikers period. All of Arizona has awesome hking. There is even great hiking near Wikieup. All being said Tucson gets the nod because the brown cloud is smaller and there are good mountain views from anywhere in town.
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azbackpackr
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Joined: Jan 21 2006 6:46 am
City, State: Flagstaff AZ

Post by azbackpackr »

Yeah, I agree, all of AZ has great hiking. I'm planning to spend the winter near Yuma, which has five wilderness areas nearby, plus the Goldwater bombing range, which you can get permits to camp in, plus the Colorado river which you can kayak or canoe for over 100 miles. There are all these interesting-looking and very rugged little mountain ranges around there. Add that to some interesting mountains right across the river in Calif., and you could spend a few years exploring it all!
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joebartels
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Joined: Nov 20 1996 12:00 pm
City, State: Phoenix, AZ

Re: Tucson vs. Phoenix

Post by joebartels »

Phx is holding stong
- joe
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Jeffshadows
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Joined: Jan 30 2008 8:46 am
City, State: Old Pueblo

Re: Tucson vs. Phoenix

Post by Jeffshadows »

Suits me ;)
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