The Sabino Canyon Road is a high-traffic part of the Coronado National Forest just northeast of Tucson. Its towering ridgelines, flowing creek, and Sonoran desert plant and wildlife form the picturesque backdrop for this easy ride. Starting at the visitor center parking area, the paved canyon road climbs to a short hilltop at mile 0.75 where you'll catch your first glimpse of the lush desert habitat supported by Sabino Creek's perennial flow.
A short descent to the base of the canyon lands alongside the creek, which the road crisscrosses nine times, starting with a short bridge near mile 1.5. During high water (especially after storms), some of the lower bridges can be flooded; a brief portage may be required. You'll climb about 500 feet in 2 miles, with the last mile of the climb getting steeper and offering views of the lower canyon. The road ends at the #9 Shuttle Stop and a trailhead that offers deeper canyon access by foot. Turn around and enjoy the easy coast to the parking area.
Note: Popular with walkers and runners, and serviced by a regular shuttle, the narrow, winding canyon road is only open to bicyclists before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. every day but Wednesdays and Saturdays, but is worth the early wake-up call and $5 per car entry fee to the parking lot. For regulations, road conditions, or more information, call the Santa Catalina Ranger District at (520) 749-8700.
TO TRAILHEAD: From downtown Tucson, head east on Tanque Verde Rd. Turn left onto Sabino Canyon Rd. and drive 2.1 miles. Turn left to stay on Sabino Canyon Rd. and drive another 2.3 miles. Just after the 4-way stop on Sunrise Dr., turn left into the Sabino Canyon Trailhead and Visitor Center.
Distance: 7.54 mi
Total Time: none
Speed: 0.0 mph
Pace: 0:00 / mi
Active Time: none
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Points of Interest
Location: 32.309968, -110.822976
There is plenty of parking, restrooms, a gift shop, and (if you're feeling lazy) a shuttle service at the Sabino Canyon Visitor Center, the start point of this ride. There's a short warm-up climb from here before your descent into the canyon.
Location: 32.317476, -110.813824
Bypass the Cactus Picnic Area and stay on the main road. At mile 0.7, you'll reach the top of a small hill. Enjoy the full view into the canyon before the short descent.
Location: 32.324928, -110.805745
At mile 1.5, you'll cross the first of nine bridges across Sabino Creek. These low-water bridges are typically dry, but can be inundated with water and damaged (as they were in 2006) by major flooding.
Location: 32.327743, -110.801556
There are 11 restroom facilities in the canyon, like this one between shuttle stops 3 and 4. But, drinking water isn't available at these facilities, so plan to bring your own.
Location: 32.340195, -110.784631
The final 0.4 mile to the trailhead at the top of the canyon road is steeper than the rest, approaching 9-percent grades.
Location: 32.343711, -110.780575
The top of the canyon road serves as a trailhead for several scenic hikes and is also the turnaround point for this ride. As you begin the fast descent, look south toward 5,325-foot Thimble Peak and the Saddleback Ridge.
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