By D.R. WILLIAMS
Only a short drive out of the city limits, Redington Pass offers a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of Tucson.
It’s the bridge between the Santa Catalina and Rincon mountain ranges and is a piece of paradise for hikers, bikers, day dreamers and nature lovers of all ages.
Follow Tanque Verde Road as far east as it will go. Eventually the name changes to Redington Road, a paved two-lane street that winds up the side of the foothills before transitioning to dirt.
As soon as you cross a cattle guard, a sign acts as the first warning to be responsible. Of equal importance, it reminds everyone to pack it in, pack it out. Remember to bring a bag for trash and any litter found along the way if possible.
Lower Tanque Verde Falls
300-foot elevation gain
2-3 hours roundtrip
The first hiking trail you come across is about a half mile up the dirt road. It’s hard to miss due to the large parking area and a trailhead sign pointing in the right direction.
The trail, commonly referred to as the Tanque Verde Falls trail, yields a breathtaking view of a waterfall more than 50 feet high.
The short trek along the ridge and into the canyon is another half mile but is filled with plenty to see along the way, ranging from countless cacti to the javelinas that feed on them.
At the bottom of the canyon, the trail becomes less defined as you head upstream for about 30 minutes. Though some paths are easy to see, there is no official path to the top.
If you visit during the right time of year, you can hear water running long before you reach the bottom of the trail. It serves as a great cool-down from the direct sunlight.
The best times for high water levels are during the monsoon season and after the winter storms pass, leaving snow melt.
The final hurdle before the big pond is an ascent up a steep rock formation that can be slippery when wet. Many voyagers turn around at this point, after deciding the passage is too high to risk a fall.
If you are able to make it up the granite ladder, you receive your reward and enjoy the view.
Take a victory lap around the pond under the waterfall and check out the different lines and patterns formed within the rocks as a result of millions of years of cooling and erosion.
Bring plenty of drinking water because the hike is often hotter once you head back. Walking along the water offers cool air similar to a swamp cooler but once you’re out of the canyon and back on the main trail, the temperature heats up quickly.
Getting back to your vehicle will take 2-3 hours roundtrip, depending on how fast you move and how long your breaks last. You could spend all day with proper snacks and supplies.
Upper Tanque Verde Falls
100-150 foot elevation gain
45-60 minute roundtrip
If it sounds like a good idea to start off with something smaller, the next best spot would be a nudist area located exactly one mile from the start of the dirt road.
Parking is in shorter supply and the trail is harder to find, but not by much. A close look along the passenger side should be enough to find the path that leads to a large sign that reads “clothing optional.”
A short 10-minute walk is all it takes to get to the bottom of the canyon. A large open area along the bottom is ideal for laying down a blanket and relaxing. From here, you can go back the same way or hike downstream.
Going downstream offers the most excitement. If time is limited, this is a perfect little morning hike. Similar to the first hike, the terrain offers cool jumps and swimming areas but is much less strenuous.
Start to climb the mountain when you see another sandy beach downstream. The trail is easily visible and takes you right back up to parking, completing a full circuit.
Stick to the buddy system and bring plenty of water.
Try to keep the wilderness wild, so future generations can also enjoy these beautiful places.