8 Best Day Hikes in Saguaro National Park

Tucson, AZ separates Saguaro National Park into two regions – Tucson Mountain District (West) and Rincon Mountain District (East). Being so close to a larger city like Tucson makes Saguaro a very unique place to visit and allows people that wouldn’t necessarily venture to a more secluded park to get out and explore this desert landscape. Saguaro cacti are the largest in the country; they live to more than 150 years old and can grow to over 45′ tall! The weather can make it uncomfortable in the hot summer months so most visitors go between November and March. It is never a bad time to explore some of the below hikes in Saguaro National Park, just make sure to bring along plenty of water! Official Website.

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You can also view our recommendations on hiking gear and camping equipment!

Tucson Mountain District

1. King Canyon Trail

A gradual climb through the rocky desert until you get to Sweetwater Trail junction where the trail steepens. Switchbacks for the last mile get you to the top of Wasson Peak (4687′). Head back via Hugh Norris and Sendero Esperanza to make a loop of the area. The trailhead is located off Kinney Road across from the Desert Museum.

  • 8.4 miles – Loop
  • 1750′ gain
  • Strenuous

2. Safford Peak Trail

This is a steep trail to the summit of Stafford Peak offering great views of Tucson and the entire West district of Saguaro National Park. The trailhead is at the end of North Scenic Drive towards the north boundary of the park.

  • 3.4 miles – Out and back
  • 1500′ gain
  • Strenuous

3. Signal Hill Petroglyphs Trail

Short and easy trail leading to ancient petroglyphs on a rocky hilltop. The trailhead can be found at the end of Signal Hill Road off of Golden Gate Road.

  • 0.5 miles – Out and back
  • 50′ gain
  • Easy

4. Valley View Overlook Trail

Highlighted with great views with Avra Valley below and Picacho Peak to the north, this is a short and easy trail that shouldn’t be missed. The trailhead is on Bajada Loop Drive 3.5 miles north of Red Hills Visitor Center.

  • 0.8 miles – Out and back
  • No elevation gain
  • Easy

Rincon Mountain District

1. Tanque Verde Ridge Trail

Most of the hike follows the top of the ridge line on your way up to Tanque Verde Peak so the views are pretty hard to beat. Although Tanque Verde is one of the best hikes in Saguaro, this along with Rincon Peak Trail (below) are gradual inclines the entire time so know your limits and bring plenty of water. The trailhead is next to the parking lot off of Cactus Forest Drive.

  • 17.3 miles – Out and back
  • 4300′ gain
  • Strenuous

2. Douglas Spring Trail

Apart from the enormous cacti you’ll see along your journey, the highlight of this trail is Bridal Wreath Falls – a beautiful sight in the middle of the desert. The trail travels on for several more miles but I think this marks a good point to head back. The trailhead can be found near the north boundary at the end of East Speedway Boulevard.

  • 5.8 miles – Out and back
  • 1000′ gain
  • Moderate

3. Rincon Peak

Accessed from the eastern boundary of the park, this trail gets you to the 3rd highest summit in Saguaro (8482′). The hike is more about the destination, not the journey, but there are plenty of picture-worthy views on your way. The trailhead is off Easy Happy Valley Road next to a fenced, private property.

  • 15.4 miles – Out and back
  • 4000′ gain
  • Strenuous

4. Mica View Loop 

Combining Mica View, Mesquite, Cholla, and Cactus Forest Trails, hikers get an easy, relatively short hike through the desert landscape. This is a fun hike for all ages and one that can quickly be completed if in the Tucson area and looking to see what the park has to offer. The trailhead is at a parking area off East Broadway Boulevard.

  • 3.8 miles – Loop
  • 100′ gain
  • Easy

 

 

 

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