David Yetman Hiking Trail in Tucson Mountains

A City Surrounded by Mountains

Tucson, Arizona is a great place to live if you like the great outdoors.  

The city is situated in a valley surrounded by mountain ranges on all four sides - the Santa Catalina and Tortolita mountains to the, north, the Santa Rita mountains to the south, the Rincons to the east and the Tucson mountains to the west.

In addition to surrounding us with spectacular scenery every day, these nearby mountains are great for hiking, horseback riding, picnicking or just a place to get away from it all for a few hours.

Hiking trails are numerous and range from simple, straight and level well marked dirt paths to rugged wilderness climbs.

Sign At Gates PassTrail Head of David Yetman Trail

While I have previously written about the Finger Rock hiking trail that starts at the city’s northern edge in the Santa Catalina mountains which my son and I frequently hike, this is not the only trail we visit.

A great trail, which is level and straight and makes for a relaxing walking experience is the David Yetman trail that is right off Gates Pass Bouvelard in the Tucson Mountains.  

The Tucson Mountains are a relatively small and low elevation range on the west side of town and Gates Pass is the easiest and most convenient way to cross them.

The Tucson Mountains and David Yetman Trail are Just West of Downtown Tucson, AZ

A markerDavid Yetman Trailhead Gates Pass Tucson AZ -
Gates Pass, Tucson, AZ 85745, USA
[get directions]

Start of David Yetman Trail at Gates Pass in the Tucson Mountains on the west side of Tucson, AZ

Chika Decided to Join Us on This Outing

Driving Over Gates Pass

While Gates Pass is a bit of a climb and the road winding on both sides of the pass, most cars can make it easily without shifting to lower gears.

In addition to the spectacular views, the main thing that slows cars down going over the pass is the number of runners and people on bicycles running or biking over the pass - in other words, Gates Pass and the Tucson Mountains as a whole don’t pose much of a barrier.

As you start down the west side of Gates Pass, just past the peak, there is a turn off to a small parking lot on the left. Pulling in and parking there puts hikers right at the trail head of the David Yetman trail.

We Begin Our Hike

Peaks tower above the trail
Peaks tower above the trail
Chika in her Hiking Gear
Chika in her Hiking Gear

A Gentle Walking Trail in the Middle of a Rugged Mountain Area

The main trail is fairly straight and level with minimal changes in elevation.  It is listed as an 11.6 or 12 mile hike but that is the distance for the round trip - hiking from Gates Pass Blvd to the end of the trail and then turning around and hiking back.  So it is about 6 miles one way.

We have hiked there a number of times over the years but usually make it a casual walk going in two to three miles or less and then turning around.  We once took a long hike and got as far as an area of homes near the other end but didn’t make it to the end where someone could have met us with a car.

There is a small and gentle downhill section of the trail as you approach the area of homes and the mountains open up into a level area here.  

However, the rest of the main trail (there is a spot where the trail splits into two with one part of the trail climbing up and appears to become a more rugged mountain trail) from Gates Pass to the edge of the subdivision is situated between high peaks on both sides.

The Trail is Relatively Level

A view of the Trail as we head away from the trail head.
A view of the Trail as we head away from the trail head.
Looking back toward Gates Pass Blvd and the start of the trail.
Looking back toward Gates Pass Blvd and the start of the trail.

All Sounds of the City are Shut Out

In addition to making for incredible beauty, being in this narrow valley with mountain peaks on both sides has the effect of cutting off all noise from the city.

Just leaving the city allows one to escape the major sounds of civilization.

However, there is a very low background noise to populated areas that we are so used to hearing that we don’t notice it.

Don’t notice it, that is until you come to a spot like this were even the low background noise is cut off. It is somewhat eerie at first, like being in a totally soundproof room.

But the utter silence is also very calming and peaceful.

Chika Pauses to View the Scenry

Driving Directions for the Camino de Oeste Start of David Yetman Trail

While I have never reached the other end of the trail, from what I have heard and read, the trail head for that end is located at the end of Camino de Oeste.

The trail head can supposedly be reached by turning south on Camino de Oeste from Speedway Blvd. before it merges into Gates Pass Blvd.

Camino de Oeste becomes a dirt road after turning on to it and then dead ends where the trail head starts.

The parking is supposedly limited there so the Gates Pass trail head is considered by most to be the better starting point. I can’t say because I have never driven to nor hiked to the Camino de Oeste trail head.

This trail is a great place for a casual hike for everyone in the family.

Memories of a Day's Hiking

Hiking in from the Gates Pass trailhead
Hiking in from the Gates Pass trailhead
Chika looking back to see how far she has come.
Chika looking back to see how far she has come.
The trail with mountain peaks towering above.
The trail with mountain peaks towering above.
Chika in full hiking gear.
Chika in full hiking gear.
The trail with mountain slopes on either side.
The trail with mountain slopes on either side.
Chika pausing to catch her breath.
Chika pausing to catch her breath.
"Don't you think we should turn around and start back now?"
"Don't you think we should turn around and start back now?"
"Open the car door and let's get in and get the air conditioning going!"
"Open the car door and let's get in and get the air conditioning going!"
Chika in her element - the outdoors are great but she is basically a pampered house mut.
Chika in her element - the outdoors are great but she is basically a pampered house mut.

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Comments 5 comments

May PL profile image

May PL 5 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

The trail looks as inviting as the bush walking treks surrounding Melbourne Australia. Thanks for the hub, it was interesting.


Craig - DoorSmart 6 years ago

I lived in Winslow, AZ for a number of years and was reconnected with the landscape from hikes years ago. Kudos for sharing.


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

What a lovely trail- and Chika is ADORABLE!!


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

The trail looks a bit rugged and washed out in places, but if Chika could make it...! Lovely hub, thank you, and thanks for the pics.


msorensson profile image

msorensson 6 years ago

Thank you Chuck. I will be sure to check it out when I get back to Arizona sometime.

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