Seven Falls & Bear Canyon
Santa Catalina Mountains, Tucson, Arizona
August 2003


Seven Falls is the name given to a series of rocky pools in Bear Canyon, in the southern Santa Catalina Mountains of Tucson. The falls flow and the pools are filled nearly all year. We had the bright idea to visit the falls on a mid-August day, knowing full well the daytime highs would be nearing 110 degrees.

We arrived in mid-day at the Sabino Canyon Visitorís Center. To mitigate traffic, you park farther out, and they shuttle people up to the various trailheads. We rode the shuttle to our intended trailhead at Bear Canyon, 1.5 miles from the visitorís center. They dropped us off about 1 p.m., and yes, it was very hot.

The hike is not trivial: 2.3 miles each way to the Seven Falls, but the trail is good and mostly flat. It gets steep a little toward the spot where we took a side trail to the actual falls. We just took it slow and once at the pools, jumped right in. It was fantastic! The water was delightfully cold, and we spent about two hours just soaking in the pools and goofing off in the waterfalls. There were a few other people but they all left, leaving us alone.

Eventually, we knew we must leave soon in order to catch the shuttle back to the parking lot. It was gruelingly hot by now, easily 107 degrees. Our clothing was sopping wet, and this worked well as we could let the natural evaporative effect cool us off as we walked the couple miles back to the trailhead. The hike had gone well, but when we returned to the shuttle depot, our clothes were dry by now, the shuttle depot was just a bench with no shade, and we had no idea when the shuttle would actually show up.

Rather than just sit in the hot sun waiting for a shuttle that might show in five minutes or forty-five, we decided to start walking back to the visitorís center. We figured if we saw the shuttle coming up, we could wave them to stop and get on. But they never did come by. We ended up walking all the way back to the visitorís center as they were closing things up for the day. We nearly ran over one lady as she was shutting the access to the vending machines! We hadnít planned in walking almost four miles in this heat, and we were very much in need of some cold fluids, as you can imagine. Apparently they had no plans to run another shuttle that day, so it was good we walked back rather than wait like fools back at the trailhead.

We found a nice Mexican food restaurant in town to have a dinner, plus drink about a gallon of ice-water each. This sets a record for the both of us: hottest hike of a non-trivial length. Hiking in 107-108 degrees royally sucks, but itís a fun story to tell. Nevertheless, we would recommend to not do what we did. Spring and Fall would be ideal times to visit, when itís warm but not terribly hot.

Photos (Click to enlarge)

Seven Falls

MView from higher up

Flowing water!

Bear Canyon looking south

Me, in the pools

Beth too

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(c) 2006, 2012 Scott Surgent. For entertainment purposes only.