The Tucson area has some fantastic hiking trails, but there aren’t a lot of dog friendly options. We’ve scoped out five spots you and your pup can enjoy together!
There is no shortage of great hiking in Southern Arizona! But the selection of dog friendly hikes near Tucson is limited. Much of the area’s best hiking is in Saguaro National Park or Sabino Canyon – but their policies don’t allow dogs.
Luckily, we have found five dog friendly hikes near Tucson. And, just for fun, I’ll share a few of our favorite spots to grab lunch with your dog after your hike. Because that’s the reward for putting in the miles!
Hiking Near Tucson With Dogs
Catalina State Park: Canyon Loop Trail
Dog friendly dining near Catalina State Park:
El Charro Cafe
7725 North Oracle Road, Tucson, AZ
Excellent Mexican food and a great happy hour menu!
Catalina State Park encompasses the best of the Sonoran desert in a small area. There are many excellent trails here, however several lead to protected wilderness areas where dogs can’t go. Please respect the park boundary signs and only take your dogs as far as they are allowed!
The Canyon Loop trail, which is 2.3 miles, is entirely dog friendly and might even have a stream running if your timing is good. Entrance to the park is $7, or you can purchase an annual Arizona State Parks pass for $75.
Marana: Tortolita Mountain Trails
The Tortolita Mountain trail network in Marana is about 30-40 minutes from downtown Tucson. But it’s definitely worth the drive!
This trail system is loaded with inter-connected trails. So, depending on the combination of trails you choose, you can hike anywhere from 0.5 miles to 10 miles or more.
READ MORE ⇒ Tips for Desert Hiking with Dogs
One of my favorite trails is the Lower Javelina Trail, which is just over 3 miles round-trip. I also like the Wild Mustang trail, which takes you up to a saddle with amazing views of the Marana Valley and surrounding mountains.
To reach the trailhead, set your GPS for the Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain (which is pet friendly). Once you pass the guard house, take the 2nd right into the parking area. No fees or permits are required, and there are restrooms and a drinking fountain at the trailhead.
Pima County: Sweetwater Preserve
Dog friendly dining near Sweetwater Preserve:
Follow the main road back into town. Near the Tucson Mall you’ll find lots of options, like Cheesecake Factory.
Note: Sweetwater Preserve and Sweetwater Wetlands Park are different places. Sweetwater Preserve welcomes leashed dogs on the trails, whereas dogs are not allowed at the wetlands park.
The Sweetwater Preserve is popular for its proximity to town and its excellent scenery. And the well-marked trail system allows you to “choose your own adventure.” These trails get crowded on weekends, but they’re perfect during the week!
You really can’t go wrong no matter which trail you choose. But try the Saguaro Vista trail to the Black Rock Loop for a nice, 4-mile hike.
Entry and parking are free, although there are no facilities – including trash bins – so be prepared to take your trash with you.
Dog friendly dining near Mount Lemmon:
The Mount Lemmon Cookie Cabin
12781 Sabino Canyon Park, Mount Lemmon, AZ
Pizza by the slice, sandwiches and cookies!
Mount Lemmon looms over the city of Tucson and is a high-elevation refuge in the summer. If you’re hoping to experience four seasons – including snow – you can find it on Mount Lemmon! Or go in the fall to see colorful leaves and flowing streams.
A day-use fee is required in the Coronado National Forest. But, if you have a national parks pass, displaying it in your car window is sufficient.
My favorite trail at Mount Lemmon can be found by parking at the Marshall Gulch Picnic Area, a quarter-mile past the town of Summerhaven. From the Marshall Gulch trailhead, continue in a loop on the Aspen Trail.
Keep in mind that this area can be closed for snow, so stop at the ranger station along the way to pick up a trail map and check the current conditions. Also remember that this is mountain lion country, so remember to keep your dogs close!
READ MORE ⇒ 15 Pet Friendly Things To Do Around Tucson, AZ
Bonus: If the trails on Mt. Lemmon are muddy or snow-covered, try the Agua Caliente trail instead. Access is at the La Milagrosa Trailhead at the intersection of North Avenida De Suzenu and East Horsehead Road. Walk through the gate heading east on Horsehead Road until you come to the end of the road where the trail picks up.
After your hike, stop for a flight of ice cream at The Screamery (50 S. Houghton Road).
Madera Canyon is another great place to find dog friendly hikes near Tucson. It’s near the town Green Valley, about an hour south of the city.
This area is very popular for bird-watching, but dogs are welcome on the trails as well. The Madera Canyon Nature Trail parallels the road through the park, so you can choose to hike any length before turning around and heading back to your car.
A day-use fee is required in the national forest. But, if you have a national parks pass, displaying it in your car window is sufficient.
We started at the Whitehouse parking lot and hiked 3 miles up to the Mount Wrightson picnic area. The trail follows a beautiful stream for the first 1.5 miles, then takes you up on a ridge with gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains.
We returned along the road, but if you’re looking for more of a challenge, you can hike to the 9,456-foot summit of Mount Wrightson!
READ MORE ⇒ Tucson Day Trip to Pet Friendly Tombstone
Know Before You Go
No matter which dog friendly hikes near Tucson you decide to try, always double check to be sure the pet policies haven’t changed. And please take care to know and follow all the rules so these trails will remain dog friendly!
Finally, if you’re new to hiking in the desert, check out our tips for desert hiking with a dog!
Looking for more dog friendly hiking in Arizona? Check out our blog post on dog friendly trails in Sedona!
READ MORE ⇒ Dog Friendly Hiking in Sedona
We hope this post helps make your dog friendly visit to Tucson even more fun!