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Take a Hike This Summer, Please

Take a Hike This Summer, Please

With five mountain ranges, assortment of state and national parks, and numerous wildlife habitats and historical corridors surrounding Tucson - our city is tops in spectacular panoramas of nature. With temps rising, it's also the perfect time to head up to our mountains.

Tucson offers many options for outdoor ramblers - The city sits in a valley surrounded by the Santa Catalina, Santa Rita, Tucson, Rincon and Tortolita mountain ranges. While each range offers a variety of nature hikes or pleasant strolls, I want to single out two easy trails that offer fabulous wildlife viewing and vistas for minimal effort. If short rambles are your thing, consider two of my favorites:

Mount Bigelow is situated 8,550 feet up in the Catalina Mountains. There is a 1.5-mile trail (it's actually a dirt road) that easily brings you past beautiful pine and fir tree forest and gorgeous vistas. Your walk will lead to a group of one-time fire lookout transmission towers atop the mountain - what a view! Along the way, you'll see wonderful big views of the Catalinas. There are several small clearings where you can rest, take a picnic or just photograph. Watch for wildlife, too.

Last time I visited a saw a pretty red-tail squirrel and an assortment of unusual, colorful birds. You can reach this walk via the Catalina Highway, about four miles up, past Milepost 20. Turn right at the "Bigelow Trailhead" sign and park about a quarter-mile up this road near the observatory. Then start walking up to the right at the fork - Enjoy the 1.5 mile ramble! Learn more about the Catalina Highway from the Forest Service website: http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/coronado/forest/recreation/scenic_drives/catalina_hwy.shtml

Madera Canyon, just south of Tucson, offers so many trail options, but a favorite of mine is the 1.8-mile Nature Trail. There are interpretive signs along this walk as well as perfect scenery. The lower trailhead climbs gradually and will provide a wonderful mountain and valley views. To reach this from Tucson, drive south on Interstate 19, exit at Green Valley, Continental and continue to the canyon (about 13 miles off the exit). Watch for Nature Trail parking lot soon after passing the Santa Rita Lodge (another nice place to stop and watch the birds.). There are no food places in the canyon so bring a picnic lunch! Learn more at http://www.friendsofmaderacanyon.org/

If you're interested in additional hiking adventures to stay cool this summer in Tucson, watch the http://www.bestboomertowns.com website, or do research yourself about our beautiful, historic Arizona Trail: http://www.aztrail.org/. Happy hiking!

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