Most of my running is done on the 49er’s golf course and washes. These are peaceful runs with plenty of trees and soft grass (Saja’s Note: and plenty of cool things to smell!), but they aren’t especially challenging unless you are into sprinting. Every runner needs a change of pace once in a while, and what better change than to take to Tucson’s mountains!
I love trail running. It can be brutally hard to be sure, and you’ve got to stay focused on each and every step unless you want a twisted ankle or a shin full of cactus spines, but it is a wonderful break from city running. You probably won’t run as fast on the trail and maybe not even as far, but when you are done you’ll feel muscles you never knew existed and you’ll definitely get a good workout. I strongly recommend trail running to change up and refresh your normal routine.
Before You Go:
For moderate and established trails you can get away with wearing your normal running shoes, however I have found that these don’t give the best support and protection. Consider buying a pair of cross-training shoes or trail running shoes, preferably high tops, or just get yourself a pair of lightweight hiking boots. High Tech makes a number of inexpensive, light shoes that would work well on the trail.
Always bring water on the trail! A twisted ankle can easily turn your three mile jog into a multi-hour ordeal, and in the desert water is your first survival tool.
The Reddington Blue Line:
I don’t know if this is an official trail. There are no markers and it is not on any of my maps, but it is fairly well established and marked along its length with blue spray paint on rocks. Reddington has dozens of jeep trails you can run, but there is something appealing to me about running the foot trails. The Tanque Verde Falls trail (just opposite the first parking area) and the Upper Falls trail (about a mile and a half east) are too short and well travelled for running, although they have significant climbs on the way back so you’d certainly get your heart rate up. I have taken the former down and run east along the canyon floor, however there is quite a bit of boulder scrambling involved with this route and eventually I came to some spots that Saja just can’t climb.
The Blue Line starts a couple of hundred yards along the road from the Upper Falls trail head. It is hard to see, so park just beyond the bend from Upper Falls parking and walk east along the road. Eventually you’ll see the first blue spray marks on some rocks. I’ve marked the start with rock columns but these get knocked down, so next time I go up there I’ll get GPS coordinates. (Update: Trail starts at N32 15.54 W110 39.33)
This is fairly level trail with no major elevation changes, and runs halfway up the northern ridgeline from the road to the area where the canyon opens up to grasslands. Several jeep trails converge at the eastern end of the trail (N32 15.59 W110 38.44), so you could easily extend your run if you wanted. The first time I did this run it took about 50 minutes, but I was stopping to take pictures and give the dog water, following a couple jeep trails, and just generally taking my time. I’d say the round trip is somewhere between three to four miles. (Update: Actually it’s under 2.5 miles, but with the terrain it’s pretty challenging.) Again, I’ll take a GPS with me next time. The trail is exposed to the sun for its entire length and by 9:00 am it is already hot at this time of year. I definitely suggest getting out there early or trying it at dusk (bring a headlamp).
Saja’s Comments: Good trail, but hot. Bring plenty of water for your dogs (and you too I guess). Lots of spikey things that poke my paws, so keep an eye on your dog and check their feet once in a while! I like this run better when there’s water in Tanque Verde creek. Love that water! Splash, splash, splash. Gotta go. Hear a dog barking!
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About the Author: Tucson, AZ Realtor & Investor. My true passions however are hiking and whisky (although generally not at the same time). If you have a question about any of these just drop me a line!