Chiva Falls, Arizona

Chiva Falls in December 2012

Arizona might not come to mind when you hear “waterfalls.” It’s all desert, right? Well, there are more waterfalls than one might expect, at least at the right time of year.

The Tucson area has a surprising number of waterfalls. I’ve visited Seven Falls almost 5 years ago, and that was the hike I base all other hikes off of. It was long, winding, and rather unenjoyable. I decided to come back to Tucson, and started looking for other waterfall hikes that weren’t nearly as bad. The Tanque Verde Falls hike is shorter, and yet seems more complicated. The hike to Chiva Falls, while longer, sounded less difficult.

And honestly, the hike itself wasn’t terribly difficult. It is 7.4 miles round trip, so distance will play some role. The path has its ups and downs, though it is moderated by stretches of relative flatness. At no point was I thinking I had signed up for voluntary torture. Once you get to the falls, you’re rewarded with a very beautiful view. I found it to be more interesting than Seven Falls, maybe because I had enough energy to enjoy the falls.

Other Notes:

  • This is seasonal, and does seem to be best viewed after a rainfall. (It had just rained that morning in the Tucson area.)
  • Reddington Road, the road to the trailhead, is rough, but still drive-able with a smaller car.
  • The path to the falls is also a 4×4/ATV path, and while you’ll likely be the only HIKER, you’re unlikely to be alone. Solitude may be difficult to find.
  • Pay attention to the signs. It’s not very difficult to find, but if you miss a sign, it may become far more difficult. (After about 2 miles in, it helps to try and identify Chiva Falls from afar.)


  1. In Tucson, drive along Tanque Verde Road, until it becomes Reddington Road.
  2. Reddington Road becomes dirt after a certain point. Drive a little more than 4 miles along the road once it becomes DIRT. You will see a staging area on your left and a parking area (which can be difficult to see) on your right. If you pass mile marker 8, you have gone TOO far.
  3. Turn right into the parking area.
  4. Start along the trail connected to the parking area. The trail is very wide since it will also be used by all-terrain vehicles.
  5. Just keep following this trail for 2 miles or so. (Don’t think to hard for a while.)
  6. After 2 miles, you will see a large pond (shielded by wire fencing) on your left. At this point, look to your right for a faint hiking trail. Take this trail. (If you miss it, that’s fine…You can still also keep following the ATV trail, since you’ll rejoin it later. It’s just nice to have a trail to yourself for a while.)
  7. Follow this faint trail to the end of a very large cedar tree. Soon after this, you will reconnect to the wider trail.
  8. You will pass a trail 4405 on your right. Stay on the ATV trail.
  9. Soon after that, you will come to a “fork” in the road. Take the right trail, which was unsigned at that specific point. Do not take trail 4426 (to your left).
  10. This right trail is 4405. Go down hill for a short distance, and you’ll come to an open space (which might be a wash with water at certain times). Keep to the far right, following the main ATV trail. If in doubt, you should see a sign (pointed toward you) for 4405.
  11. Keep walking on 4405 until you come to 4405A. Take a left onto 4405A, which heads downhill.
  12. At the end of 4405A is the falls!

Accessibility: 4/10 (moderate/strenuous)
Height: 75′
Length of Hike: 7.4 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Chiva Falls?


Seven Falls, Arizona

Full view of Seven Falls

The trip to Seven Falls is probably the farthest I’ve trekked to see a waterfall. Roundtrip, the trail to the falls must be at least 8 miles, though it seemed much longer than that. Maybe it’s 4 miles straight shot, but there is no way to walk “straight” to this waterfall. You’re going to walk up and then down, and then repeat this process over and over again. Near the end, you’ll encounter some moderately steep switchbacks.

Seven Falls is aptly named, as I believe there are seven separate drops. You will also cross the stream seven times to get to the falls. This journey is NOT for the faint of heart. Along the way, my dad and I encountered someone who had just had knee surgery. The trail to Seven Falls is NOT appropriate if you’re in any way out of shape. Just a warning!


  1. You want to get onto Tanque Verde Road.
  2. From Tanque Verde Road, you will turn north onto Sabino Canyon Road.
  3. Head north on Sabino Canyon Road to the entrance of the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area.
  4. Enter, pay the $5 entrance fee, and park.
  5. I guess you can choose to take a tram and shorten the length of the hike. This might be advisable. You can also start hiking from the parking lot, which we did, though this adds 2 miles to the round trip. (It would only be 6 miles with the tram.)

***Bring water, lots and lots of water!

***Bring very good shoes that have a LOT of give. Otherwise you’ll regret it.

***The last section of trail to the falls involves walking only feet from some very steep drops. If you’re afraid of heights, this might not enjoy this part. (I’m speaking from experience here.)

Accessiblity: 1/10 (strenuous)
Height: ~150′
Length of Hike: 8.2 miles round-trip

Lower drop of Seven Falls

Where in the World is Seven Falls?