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Sabino Canyon Dam East near Tucson

Sabino Canyon Dam East near Tucson has all the things my kids love in a hike- easy, short, and ends in a waterfall!

Lucia Perez

Sabino Canyon Dam East near Tucson has all the things my kids love in a hike- easy, short, and ends in a waterfall!

The hike to the dam is about a mile and mostly paved. It would be easy to bring a stroller or a wagon if you feel comfortable leaving it a short distance from the dam. We saw many families who had brought strollers or wagons filled with sand toys and snacks. Parking at Sabino Canyon Visitor Center is $8 or you can use the America the Beautiful pass.

There was no ranger the day that we went, but there was a kiosk to buy the pass. Parking does get very crowded-we arrived at 10:30 am on a Wednesday and had to circle a few times before we found parking.

Once you park, head to the visitor center. There are bathrooms and drinking fountains. When you’re facing the visitor center entrance, go right down the trail. You will hit a sign showing the way to the “7 falls”, follow that sign to the left. You’ll walk down that trail until you hit the main paved road. There is a large rock and a small sign pointing to “7 falls.” Follow that sign to the right. Follow the paved road until you see the bathrooms.

There is a sign directing you to Sabino Dam East and Sabino Dam West. Turn right at the bathrooms and cross over Sabino creek. You will see a sign to Sabino Canyon Dam pointing to the left. Follow the path until it dead ends into an area with a picnic bench. This is where you will need to leave your stroller or wagon if you bring one. At this point, you can walk straight and go over the stone wall. There is an unoffical path straight down to the water through the trees, and I think it is much easier for little kids. You can also follow the path up to the right and the trail will take you up and back down to the dam.

Sabino Canyon Dam East near Tucson

My 3 yo was able to do this without a problem, but we needed to go slow because it is a little steep coming down. After we arrived at the dam, we were told that following the sign for Sabino Dam West would allow you to follow the paved road all the way to the other side of the dam, but we have not tried that way- maybe next time!

The entire hike is beautiful with views of Mount Lemmon and saguaro cactuses, but my kids were the most excited to arrive at the dam. The dam is excellent for water play. My kids were able to climb right up to the waterfall and also slide down some of the rocks. They enjoyed racing sticks from the top of the dam and being splashed by the cascading water. We were able to play barefoot without a problem, but there were some slippery rocks and we did see many kids with water shoes.

The dam feeds into Sabino creek, which my kids also loved! There is sand to play in and my kids enjoyed wading in the water. There are some trees near both the dam and the creek area, so l was able to sit in the shade while supervising the water play. We stayed at the dam for a few hours before hiking back to our car. My kids are already requesting to go back! It was a great adventure in Tucson! More details about Sabino Canyon can be found on their website.

More great things to do around Tucson can be found here!

Author

  • Lucia Perez

    Lucia is a transplant from Ohio (via Austin, TX and Columbia, MO) and mom of four. When she isn’t homeschooling or preparing a second (and third) lunch of chicken nuggets, she enjoys finding cheap and free things to do in her endless attempt to expend her children’s energy. She is a self-professed book nerd and will go to great lengths to see trees changing color. She has been known to wear a cardigan in October no matter what the temperature.

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