9 hiking tips to help keep you safe during Southern Arizona summers

 Here are 9 tips to help you keep you safe while hiking in Southern Arizona

In an emergency, call 911

Hikers in Bear Wallow
There is no official trailhead but a popular hiking trail traces the canyon bottom

In the event of an emergency, call 911 or send someone to get help. 

Bring the essentials

Hikers start up trail
Hikers start up the Finger Rock Canyon Trail north of Tucson. There’s no need to hike the entire route

Ten essential items to carry on a hike:

  1. Navigation: map, compass, GPS
  2. Sun protection: hat, sunscreen, long sleeves
  3. Insulation: extra clothing such as jacket, fleece
  4. Illumination: headlamp, flashlight
  5. First-aid kit
  6. Fire: matches, lighter
  7. Repair kit and tools: multi-tool, whistle, signal mirror
  8. Nutrition: extra food
  9. Hydration: extra water
  10. Emergency shelter: large plastic bag, space blanket

Check your water

Upper Sabino Canyon
Hikers trek a verdant forest trail in Upper Sabino Canyon high in the Catalina Mountains

Bringing water with you should be a given. But it’s important to turn around before half of your water is gone.

The Pima County Sheriff’s Department recommends bringing along around one liter of water for each hour you’ll be hiking.


King Canyon Trail
Hikers on the King Canyon Trail in Saguaro National Park’s west unit. The trail leads to the summit of Wasson Peak

It’s always important to communicate with your friends and family. Tell a responsible person where you are hiking and when you expect to be back.

Do not hike alone

Saguaro National Park
Saguaro National Park drew more than 950,000 visitors in 2017, a record number.Doug Kreutz / Arizona Daily Star File photo

It’s always best to hike with other people. Plus, it’s more fun to venture into hiking trails when you have friends or family with you. 

Bring your phone

Hikers in Marshall Gulch
Hikers in Marshall Gulch, which has picnic areas and trailheads, and can be reached by hiking the Sunset Trail.Photos by Doug Kreutz / Arizona Daily Star

Take a fully charged cell phone with you. Turn your phone off or place it in airplane mode to save its battery life. You never know when you’ll need it.

Your cell phone may not work in the back country. You may have to move to a higher or more open location to place a call.

Plan ahead

Trails on the eastern slopes of the Santa Catalina Mountains
Chuck Spain and Margarete Zirnheld hike the Butterfly Trail in the Catalina Mountains. Photo taken July 13, 2011.Doug Kreutz / Arizona Daily Star

Plan your hike so you are not hiking during the hottest part of the day. Always check the day’s weather before leaving for your hike.

Know your limits

Hikers find cooler temperatures in forests of the Catalina Mountains than in desert areas

Hike within your ability. Know what’s within reasonable distance or elevation for you. 

Stay away from wildlife

Classic hikes
A pair of deer watch from the cover of tall grasses as a hiker passes nearby in Madera Canyon south of Tucson.

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