Situated in southern Arizona, Saguaro National Park encompasses a gorgeous part of the Sonoran Desert, including sand plains dotted with cacti, mountain ranges and boulder fields. Although relatively unknown, it is one of the greatest national parks in America to visit in spring. As usual when it comes to nature parks, the best way to explore it is on foot. Read on for a selection of recommended hikes in Saguaro National Park.
5 Recommended Hikes in Saguaro National Park
1. Douglas Spring Trail
In the north of the Rincon Mountain District (RMD), the 5.2-mile roundtrip Douglas Spring Trail begins among towering saguaro cacti but takes you up into the foothills of the Rincon Mountains. This fun trail features beautiful desert vegetation and scenery as well as a seasonal waterfall and great views of the Santa Catalina Mountains.
2. Tanque Verde Ridge Trail
Also in the RMD is the epic Tanque Verde Ridge Trail. This challenging 18-mile roundtrip traverses a bunch of different ecosystems and landscapes as it runs from the trailhead to 7,040-foot Tanque Verde Peak. It is ambitious to try and do this in one day—although it’s possible—so you’re advised to camp at the basic Juniper Basin campground on the way. Remember that this is steep and strenuous hike. Take your time. Make sure you bring plenty of food, water and other supplies.
3. Mica View Loop Trail
The 2-mile Mica View Loop Trail is yet another one of the many great hikes in Saguaro National Park’s Rincon Mountains. The hike starts at the Mica View trailhead and takes you to the Broadway trailhead, where you turn right onto the Cactus Forest Trail, which brings you back to your starting point. This is a wonderful spot to see young saguaros as well as wildlife such as Gila woodpeckers and gilded flickers.
4. King Canyon Trail
In the Tucson Mountain District (TMD), you should absolute hit the King Canyon Trail. This is a 7-mile roundtrip hike taking you to the summit of Wasson Peak. The trail features many highlights, from desert flora and fauna to spectacular views. It’s a challenging trail, though, and especially the last mile or so involves a lot of switchbacks.
5. Desert Discovery Trail
One of the shortest hikes in Saguaro National Park is the Desert Discovery Trail. Situated a mile to the northwest of the Red Hills Visitor Center in the TMD. It’s only half a mile long but is the perfect introduction to what this park is all about. Displays talk about the ecology and native plants and wildlife of the Sonoran Desert. I recommend that you start with this one before tackling the others listed above.
Check out this post for a two-day Saguaro National Park itinerary and more information about the park.
Have you ever hiked any of these hikes in Saguaro National Park? Or is there another one you can suggest? Share your experiences in the comments below!