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Canyon Loop via Horse Trail

 3.7 (7)

A quick, fairly sandy loop at Catalina State Park with a few extension options.

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2,898' 883 m


2,714' 827 m


285' 87 m


286' 87 m



Avg Grade (2°)


Max Grade (9°)

Dogs Leashed

Features River/Creek


One of the great benefits of this trail is that it's very close for Oro Valley residents. The ability to connect with other trails and make multiple different routes and loops will also keep bringing you back. For those nervous about getting out too far in the wilderness, this is a great trail as it's pretty heavily used. Additionally, this trail has some short, reasonably steep uphill sections to get your heart rate up.

Need to Know

Seasonal water in the washes may necessitate some rock hopping or after big rains getting shoes wet to cross at several points.

There is an entry fee for Catalina State Park of $7 daily fee or $75 for a yearly pass.


The Canyon Loop Trail is an extremely popular pedestrian trail that serves as a quick trail getaway without heading far from town. The trail itself is largely pretty sandy and crosses several different washes which will have water in them during monsoon season and after winter storms/snow melt runoff. Most of the times, the smaller wash crossings allow for rock hopping to avoid getting wet.

From this loop, there are several connecting trail options which can lengthen your route, including the Nature Loop, Birding Loop, Sutherland Trail, and Romero Canyon Trail which shares some of this loop's path. This loop, along with the Nature & Birding loops are used twice a year for the Everyone Runs trail races (5.2 & 10.3 mile options), which has participants travel in both directions.

Begin at the Catalina State Park main trailhead and head on the asphalt towards the road's roundabout end and you'll catch the trail straight ahead. The trail is very intuitive and largely doubletrack with the only a few sections of singletrack to navigate. This route (that I've mapped) uses the horse path trail instead of the steps at the 1.1 mile point heading this direction. The horse trail is seldom occupied by horses and allows for an ascent of the hill with more rhythm than taking the steps. There is a bench and nice view point at the top of this hill at the 1.2 mile mark.

Heading back downhill, you'll be on a generously wide doubletrack that is often fairly sandy unless you catch it right after some rain. At the 1.75 mile mark this route heads up towards the Romero Pools singletrack entrance point, just as used in the Everyone Runs events.

Heading up this path makes for a sandy, gentle, ascent and brings the total mileage of the loop to just about 3 miles when complete. Bomb back down this out and back section and continue down the hill until reaching a steep downhill section. Heading straight at the base of the hill takes you to the Birding Loop, while a right turn takes you across the major wash and to the trailhead and parking lot. This wash might not be crossable without getting your shoes wet, especially after heavy rainfall or during snow melt season.

Flora & Fauna

Snakes and other desert wildlife may be present. From time to time mountain lions have been sighted in the park area, so keep an eye out especially at dawn and dusk.


Land Manager: Arizona State Parks

Shared By:

Stephen Woodall

Trail Ratings

  3.7 from 7 votes


  3.7 from 7 votes
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in Arizona


11 Views Last Month
2,394 Since Feb 6, 2016



Some of the more scenic parts of the trail were barely touched by the Bighorn Fire.
Dec 12, 2020 near Catalina, AZ
The rocks make it appear as if you can safely cross on them. Don't be fooled, your feet are gonna get wet!
Dec 1, 2019 near Oro Valley, AZ
Looking east at the Catalina's on one of the many slightly sloping, wide parts of the trail.
Dec 12, 2020 near Oro Valley, AZ
Start of trail.
Jul 5, 2019 near Oro Valley, AZ
Exploring Romero Canyon.
Dec 18, 2015 near Oro Valley, AZ
Romero Canyon Trail
Dec 18, 2015 near Oro Valley, AZ



Current Trail Conditions

All Clear 73 days ago
Add Your Check-In


Feb 15, 2021
Ken Steele
Dec 11, 2020
Eric Heise
There are areas where you can see the damage from the Bighorn Fire earlier this year, but it's in good condition and so much else to see along the way 2.4mi — 1h 00m
May 22, 2020
Gilberto Mendoza Jr
Hot day — 1h 28m
Sep 2, 2019
Brad Dow
A very dog friendly trail. Easy level track — 9h 00m
Feb 26, 2019
Craig Smith
Feb 24, 2019
Ricardo Roa
Feb 19, 2018
Tom Adams
Bridle-nature-canyon-birding loops 6.2mi
Jul 16, 2017
Jeneane K