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Matt Marine

Matt Marine is an Arizona resident who loves exploring Arizona's wonderful outdoor adventures. To find out more about Matt, click the link below.

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Cat-Dog is my faithful trail companion. Her real name is Cammie. Why do I call her Cat-Dog?

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Sara Harelson

I’m Sara! I’m 21, a senior in college, and a journalism major.  I love to read, write, travel, and listen to music.  I’m always on to my next adventure.


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Trails and roads listed within this site may be closed at any time by the Forest Service, private property owners or other governmental agencies. It is your responsibility to verify state of trail prior to attempting to run it.

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Name: Canyon Loop Trail Author's Rating:
Author: Matt Marine Avg. User Rating: Not rated yet
Type: Hike Difficulty: (Novice)
Time: 1 - 2 hours Region: SE Arizona
Length: 2.2 miles (roundtrip) Elevation gain/loss/change: +200 / -200 ft / +0 ft (roundtrip)
Type: Loop Avg Elevation: 2800 ft
Best time to go: fall, winter, spring, early/late summer Fees: Catalina State Park fee
Fitness rating: Low/Medium Educational Merit: Low
Danger/fear rating: Low Scenic Beauty: High
Hours of Operation: Area is only open certain hours - verify before going Last updated: September, 2012
Short Description: A wonderful easy hike in Catalina State Park
Geocaches: A few geocaches in the area. Snowbird in the desert
References / Contact Information: Catalina State Park
Points of interest: Easy hike. Nice views. Walk along a usually running wash.
Special Considerations: Popular trail, will usually see lots of people. This is part of the Catalina Park trail system. To gain entrance to the park you must purchase a permit. See Permit page for more information.
How to get there: Take Oracle Road north from Tucson (highway 77) and into Oro Valley. Make a right when you get to Catalina State Park. Drive the main road all the way to the end and park in the large parking area (Waypoint 001). A large sign/map denotes the trail head. Click here for directions.

Trail Description

This is one of my favorite easy hiking trails near Tucson. It’s in Oro Valley (northwest side of Tucson) and accessed through Catalina State Park. It is a very popular hike, you will see people also running it and lots of dogs. Sunset walks along this trail are just awesome.

The trail is well marked. GPS coordinates and maps should not be needed (but are provided here for completeness).

Google Maps and Google Earth

GPS tracks for this adventure were recorded with My Tracks software on my Android cell phone. This is an awesome piece of free software that allows you to record GPS tracks, waypoints and historical data. It will tell you things like elevation gain, time history, average speed, etc. It will also let you take a tour (similar to playing a time accurate movie) of your track on Google Earth. You can send your tracks to friends or upload them to Google.

Google Maps
Click here to view this adventure's track on Google Maps.

Google Earth
You can also download a Google Earth movie (called a tour) of this adventure (must have Google Earth on your computer). Right click here to download the .kml file, then select "save target (or link) as..." For help on how to play the movie on Google Earth (not very intuitive), click here.

General Information and History

This is an awesome short and easy hike in the foothills of the Catalina Mountains. This hike can be enjoyed by people of all ages and capabilities. I took my kids on this hike when they were three or four years old. They did a good deal of the hike themselves.

For such a short hike, there's lots of diversity. Wide sandy portions, rocky wash portions, water crossings. It keeps it very interesting. There are also ample benches along the way for taking rests or just sitting down to relax and enjoy the view.

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The Canyon Loop Monster

Okay, it's not really a "monster", actually it's harmless to humans and their pets, but it's still pretty creepy.

We found a few of these creatures in the water along the Canyon Loop hike. I had never seen anything like it before.

It looked to be part snake, part worm and part alien. In the end, it turned out to be a horsehair worm. You can find out more about it and why it resembles the creature from the movie Alien by going to the Horsehair Worm page I created.

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The Trail

You can hike this trail in either direction, but most people do this counterclockwise (which is my favorite direction too). Starting from the big parking area (Waypoint 001) at the end of the pavement at Catalina State Park, head to the large trail sign.

Head down toward the sandy wash, cross it and climb the steep hill. This hill is probably the most difficult portion of the trail. There's a bench at the top if you need to rest.

The trail is wide and open along this area. Keep walking until you reach Waypoint 002 (about 1/2 mile). Keep left to stay on Canyon Loop Trail (a right takes you to Romero Pools). The trail stays up on the ridge above the wash on your left until you get to Waypoint 003.

At Waypoint 003, you will go left and begin heading down into the wash. The trail splits near here, with the left made for horses and the right for hikers. The right trail has a bunch of wood steps. Climb down the steps and begin to hike along the wash.

The trail now follows the wash. For much of the year, there's water here. You will come to a series of wash crossing, but there's also some short side trails (less than 30 feet) that go to nice portions of the wash that have small pools.

Dogs love these and will enjoy the cool water (especially in the heat), but please keep your dog on a leash. The trail is popular and you don't want your dog bothering other dogs or people.

Keep walking along the trail, crossing the wash at Waypoints 004, 005 and 006. The last portion of the trail is sandy and flat and quickly gets you back to the parking area. You will also see large groves of saguaro on the ridge overlooking the wash. Very nice.

Wasn't that a nice walk?

Have fun and be safe!

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Have you been on this adventure? What did you think? Comments and updates welcome by clicking here. You can also rate this adventure by clicking here.

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