7 Tucson Hikes with Nearby Eats to Ring in the New Year

A good hike always earns you a good meal — so get stepping and reward yourself.

January always brings renewed resolutions and promises to try new things.

After a season of cocktails, celebratory meals, and cookies, what better way to start out the year than exploring some of our great Tucson hikes?

While Tucson’s food scene has blossomed the last few years, the hiking trails and complementary weather have always been a main attraction for tourists and locals alike.

Here is our list of places to hike and work off all of the holiday treats. But, as a good hike always earns you a good meal, we are also recommending nearby places to indulge (or eat light!) afterward.

Finger Rock: Blanco Tacos + Tequila

Area of Town: Northeast
Finger Rock Trail (Credit: Jennifer Stash)

Finger Rock Trail (Credit: Jennifer Stash)

Longer – out and back

Located in the heart of Tucson, this distinctive landmark looks like a closed hand with an index finger pointed towards the sky.

The hike starts out easy and progressively gets steeper as you ascend the side of Finger Rock. The trees provide some much needed shade as you weave your way through the desert landscape.

Take this trail for the full stretch, which is 11.1 miles, or until you decide it is time for lunch and head back to your car.

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Tacos, bowls, and guac, oh my!

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Post-hike refuel

The Blanco Tacos + Tequila location at Skyline and Campbell is a fabulous post-hike choice. Dig into a bowl of guac or sip on a zingy cocktail while unwinding on the patio.

Their happy hour is one of the best in the city with good eats and drink deals — the Crispy Shrimp “Po Boy” Torta and Nachos are popular choices.

Finger Rock Trail info: alltrails.com

Blanco Tacos + Tequila info: blancotacostequila.com

Madera Canyon: Elvira’s Restaurant

Area of Town: South
Cliff at Madera Canyon (Credit: Flickr/WarrenIC)

Cliff at Madera Canyon (Credit: Flickr/WarrenIC)

Varied trail lengths and degrees of difficulty

Heading about 25 miles southeast of Tucson, Madera Canyon is in the Santa Rita Mountains.

It includes miles of hiking trails and is known as a premier spot to camp, picnic or bird watch.

The trails vary from gentle, handicap-accessible paths to steep, extreme treks. The most popular is the Old Baldy Trail, which is a challenging nine-mile hike around the base of Mount Wrightson.

Flank Steak Molcajete at Elvira's (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Flank Steak Molcajete at Elvira’s (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Post-hike refuel

You will not be too far from Elvira’s Restaurant in Tubac. Enjoy one of the classic dishes it is famous for and perhaps a margarita or two.

Madera Canyon info: friendsofmaderacanyon.org

Elvira’s info: elvirasrestaurant.com

Pima Canyon: Village Bakehouse

Area of Town: North Central
Pima Canyon (Credit: Flickr/Bill Morrow)

Pima Canyon (Credit: Flickr/Bill Morrow)

Medium/Longer Hike – out and back

Another hike tucked amongst the city, you can take this trail as far out as you would like.

The most common route is to stop at the dam, about five miles in. It gets steeper the farther back you go into the canyon, but the views are well worth the climb.

This is a popular hike for trail running as well.

Breakfast Sandwich at Village Bakehouse

Breakfast Sandwich at Village Bakehouse (Credit: John Dubrawa)

Post-hike refuel

A great place to head afterward is Village Bakehouse. Known for its pastries and sandwiches, you really cannot go wrong whatever you are craving.

Pima Canyon trail info: fs.usda.gov

Village Bakehouse info: villagebakehouse.com

Sabino Canyon: Commoner & Co.

Area of Town: Northeast
Sabino Canyon (Credit: Jennifer Stash)

Sabino Canyon (Credit: Jennifer Stash)

Varied trail lengths and degrees of difficulty

Sabino Canyon has several different hikes within the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains. You can choose a variety of trails that range from easy to difficult.

If you are up for a challenge, Blackett’s Ridge includes several steep switch-backs that peak with gorgeous views.

The Telephone Line/Phone Line Trail is particularly beautiful during the spring and fall months. For the Phone Line Trail, if you are more inclined to stay on a paved path, you can head up the main road that ascends across Sabino Creek over nine stone bridges.

In Bear Canyon, the Seven Falls Trail is a must. This out-and-back trail ends with a waterfall and is popular year round. If you go in wetter months, your feet are going to get wet (over and over) — consider yourself warned.

Beets at Commoner & Co.

Beets at Commoner & Co. (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Post-hike refuel

After you are done exploring, finish your day off at Commoner and Co.

The fresh dishes and craft cocktails are going to taste delicious after you have explored all the things Sabino Canyon has to offer.

Sabino Canyon info: hikingproject.com/trail

Commoner & Co. info: commonertucson.com

Signal Hill: Teresa’s Mosaic Cafe

Area of Town: West
Petroglyphs Overlooking the Valley (Credit: Flickr/Chris Palmer)

Petroglyphs Overlooking the Valley (Credit: Flickr/Chris Palmer)

Shorter – Easy

Signal Hill leads you through a series of petroglyphs left among the rocks by the Hohokam.

The rock art is seen throughout the short trail located in Saguaro National Park. The small peaks and gentle climbs make it a great hike for those looking for a short trip with a lot to see.

If you are looking for something a little longer, continue onto the Cactus Wren and Manville trails to see more of the park.

Pollo en Mole Estilo Oaxaca at Teresa's Mosaic Cafe (Credit: Teresa's Mosaic Cafe)

Pollo en Mole Estilo Oaxaca at Teresa’s Mosaic Cafe (Credit: Teresa’s Mosaic Cafe)

Post-hike refuel

When your hike is over, a great spot to get lunch is Teresa’s Mosaic Café. The authentic Mexican food will help to round out your perfect Tucson day.

Signal Hill trail info: protrails.com

Teresa’s Mosaic Cafe info: teresamosaiccafe.com

Tumamoc Hill: Seis Kitchen at Mercado San Agustin

Area of Town: West
Tumamoc (Credit: Jennifer Stash)

Tumamoc (Credit: Jennifer Stash)

Shorter — out (up) and back

If you are in search of some of the best views of the city, head up Tumamoc Hill.

Located on a research station for the University of Arizona, the road up is limited during the weekday. But, it is the perfect place to catch a sunrise or a sunset.

Approximately three miles total, the uphill climb will definitely leave you wanting somewhere to eat when you are done.

Seis-Chata, Chorizon con Papas breakfast tacos at Seis Kitchen (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Seis-Chata, Chorizon con Papas breakfast tacos at Seis Kitchen (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Post-hike refuel

We recommend heading to Mercado San Agustin and eating at Seis. Whether you are there for a breakfast burrito or tacos at dinner, it will be the perfect place to relax after your hike.

Tumamoc Hill info: tumamoc.arizona.edu

Seis Kitchen info: seiskitchen.com

Wild Burro Trail: The Ritz Carlton, Dove Mountain

Area of Town: Northwest
Wild Burro Trail (Credit: ArizonaHiking.blogspot.com)

Wild Burro Trail (Credit: ArizonaHiking.blogspot.com)

Varied trail length depending on individual

This Marana trail starts out fairly mellow, going in and out of a riverbed until you get to an old stone house.

Afterwards, there is a steep climb for a short distance and then it reaches a canyon where you can look back at how far you have come.

The Wild Burro Trail leads into a network of additional trails that loop around and reconnect back together.

Avocado Toast and brunch at CORE Kitchen & Wine Bar at the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Avocado Toast and brunch at CORE Kitchen & Wine Bar at the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Post-hike refuel

The trail will take you right to the Ritz Carlton where several dining options are available. We suggest trying Core Kitchen & Wine Bar for an amazing breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner.

Wild Burro Trail info: hikingproject.com/trail

Core Kitchen & Wine Bar info: ritzcarlton.com

Jennifer Rothschild is an aspiring freelance food writer by night.