While the rumor of gold in Oro Valley lured some of its first visitors, it’s the beautiful desert landscape, ripe with scenic vistas, that proves to be the real reward for today’s outdoor explorers. Whether you’re in the mood for a gentle paved walk or looking to get your heart pumping, you’ll find that “X” marks the spot in the Valley of Gold.
Head over to the Big Wash Trail for a sample of Sonoran Desert terrain. An easy-to-intermediate trail for both hikers and mountain bikers, the Big Wash Trail follows the wash for 1.2 miles, showcasing cholla cacti and views of the Santa Catalina Mountains. For the best experience, access this trail from the new Big Wash trailhead, located on Rancho Vistoso Boulevard near Innovation Park Drive. You can also access the Honeybee Canyon Trail network from Big Wash but be aware that you’ll need a permit since that network is on Arizona State Trust Land.
Honeybee Canyon Trail
Credit: Angela Reichman
For a longer trek into the desert, take a visit to Catalina State Park. Bring your bike or a good pair of shoes to set off on one of the park’s many trails, like the 50-Year Trail, an 8.6-mile one-way hike that begins at the park’s equestrian center and takes you along a ridgetop for 2.6 miles. This moderate-level path has an elevation gain of a few hundred feet as it takes you up and down through the foothills.
Looking for some dramatic, panoramic views of Oro Valley? Visit the Linda Vista trailhead for a 2.2-mile loop in the Coronado National Forest at the base of majestic Pusch Ridge. The trail also connects to the very challenging Pusch Peak trail, which is rated difficult, and is recommended for experienced hikers.
Pusch Peak Trail
Credit: Maggie Dill
For a bit of history, check out the Romero Ruin Trail, a 0.75-mile loop that leads you to the Romero Ruins archaeological site, where you can observe the remnants of a Hohokam village dating back to around AD 500. Please note that this trail is open to hikers only; mountain bikes are not permitted.