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Matt Marine

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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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Name: Honey Bee Author's Rating:
Author: Matt Marine Avg. User Rating: (based on three votes)
Type: Hike Difficulty: (Novice)
Time: 1 - 3 hours Region: SE Arizona
Length: 3.0 miles (out-and-back) Elevation gain/loss/change: +187 / -187 ft / +0 ft (total)
Type: Loop Avg Elevation: 2900 ft
Best time to go: fall, spring, winter Fees: NA
Fitness rating: Low Educational Merit: Low
Danger/fear rating: Low Scenic Beauty: Medium
Hours of Operation: NA Last updated: March, 2006
Short Description: A great urban hike (that doesn't feel too urban) and one to do with small kids.
Geocaches:Tons of cool geocaches around. Here's one. Stumped in Honey Bee
References / Contact Information: Arizona Highways, January, 2008
Points of interest: Large rock dam made by sheep ranches in the early 1800s. Petroglyph rocks drawings by the Hohokam
Special Considerations: Popular trail, will usually see lots of people and their dogs. Use caution when entering narrow canyons (like this one) during rainy days. Mountain rainstorms can cause flash flooding even miles away.
How to get there: Directions to Trailhead: Park at Honey Bee Park (Waypoint HB), located at 13880 N. Rancho Vistoso Blvd. To get to Honey Bee Park, drive north on Oracle Road (from Tucson) to Rancho Vistoso Bld., then turn left. Honey Bee Park is 3.0 miles on the left (south side) of the street just before the bridge. Proceed to the next intersection (0.5 miles), make a U-turn and drive back to the park.

Trail Description

This is a great urban trail near Tucson that will seem like you’re miles away from the city. Starting from Oro Valley’s Honey Bee Park (northwest side of Tucson) it follows a sandy wash, has no large elevation gains or rocks to scramble over. A nice, short and easy hike, within the capabilities of most young and old alike. This is a popular trail for Oro Valley residents and their dogs. There’s also some interesting history along the way. The area around Honey Bee Canyon used to be home to a large community of Hohokum, and more recently, cattle and sheep ranchers. Interesting aspects of this hike are a large rock dam, a beautiful narrow canyon, and a rock with decorated with petroglyphs.

The trail is about 3 miles long (total out-and-back if you go to both dams), with only about 200 feet of elevation gain. The trail follows a sandy wash most of the way and footing is even and level. My daughter did this when she was six years old without any problem.

General Information and History

Ancient people have inhabited the Tucson area for more than 7500 years. Some of the earliest occupants were the Hohokam (AD 450 to around 1200). A settlement near Honey Bee Canyon (now called Honey Bee Village) was inhabited by the Hohokam people. Recent surveys have discovered many large mounds, pit structures, plaza, ball court and other rooms in the area. These are not accessed by the hike mentioned here and their exact location is being kept secret for now. It is my understanding that the Town of Oro Valley is attempting to create a Honey Bee Village preserve. I do not know the status of the project, but I hope it goes through. The only remnants of these ancient people seen on the trail are the petroglyphs.

It is my understanding that the dams seen along the trail were built by sheep farmers early in the 1900s, but I’m not positive about this.

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The Trail

Head down the trail to the ramadas, take a left at the second ramada and pick up the trail for the short walk to the large stone dam (Waypoint DAM). Walk through the narrow canyon to your left to reach the dam. Go through the small opening and climb back down into the wash. Keep going through the narrow canyon until it opens up and provides a great view of the Santa Catalina Mountains (Waypoint VIEW).

Sometimes in the early mornings you can catch sight of a great horned owl who has taken up residence in the canyon as it searches for breakfast. Just before sunset you might also find another reclusive visitor—the watercolor and colored pencil artist. I’ve seen a few of these friendly guests as they try to capture the late afternoon beauty of the canyon and it makes me wish I could paint.

Now, walk back through the canyon and dam and continue northward in the wash. After about 1/3 of a mile, you’ll pass under the bridge (Waypoint BRIDGE). Continue up the wash for another ¾ mile until you pass over a smaller rock damn. Just ahead on your left will be some large boulders. One of which has petroglyphs stenciled on it’s hard surface (waypoint PET). Please do not touch or disturb these historical treasures. Leave them alone so others can enjoy them. You can continue up the wash until you reach the third low stone dam (Waypoint DAM3). This is where I turn around. Retrace your steps back to the park.

Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed this urban hike. It’s a hidden gem among the concrete and pavement of Oro Valley.

Have fun and be safe!

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Member Comments

Love Honey Bee Canyon

April 15, 2012: We go often but we don't see very many other people. I love the canyon and the big dam with the passageway beneath it.

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