Sabino Canyon — with its creek flowing melodically and trees along the watercourse showing brilliant hues — is in its peak scenic season.
Perhaps no better time then, in these days around the start of the new year, to take a casual or brisk walk in the canyon northeast of Tucson with family or friends.
Walk is the operative word. That’s because shuttle service in the canyon was suspended June 30 pending a transition to a new operator. The Coronado National Forest, which manages the canyon, has issued a permit to a new operator, but no date has been announced for resumption of shuttle service.
One easygoing option is to walk up the main canyon road, which begins near the visitor center and is closed to private motor vehicles.
The road winds through cactus forests beneath towering rock walls for 3.9 miles — crossing bridges over Sabino Creek several times en route to its end point high in the canyon. Walking the entire round-trip route on the road makes for a vigorous workout, but many visitors just walk a mile or two and then return to the starting point.
Stopping at one of the bridges is popular with walkers who savor the soothing sights and sounds of the creek.
Hiking one of the many trails in the canyon offers a slow-paced, up-close look at the canyon’s desert vegetation and geologic splendor.
The recreation area is accessible to the public, but Forest Service staff members have been furloughed because of the partial federal government shutdown.