We do not inherit the
earth from our ancestors,
we borrow it from
our children.
- Native American Wisdom

Hikes & Trails at the Park

With about 200 miles of trails -- traversing flat desert landscapes as well as challenging mountainous terrain -- visitors of every ability have a place to explore at Saguaro National Park.

At the (west) Tucson Mountain District, the 400-yard Cactus Garden Trail at the Red Hills Visitor Center follows a level paved walkway through a collection of desert plants.  A second nature trail, the Desert Discovery Trail, loops 1/2 mile along gently sloping bajadas at the foot of the Tucson Mountains; interpretive signs tell about the native plants, animals and ecology of the Sonoran Desert, while canopied benches offer a place to sit and enjoy the desert beauty.  Also popular is the 0.8-mile (round-trip) Valley View Overlook Trail, which offers spectacular views of the mountains, the desert, and extensive saguaro forests.  Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, the trail gradually ascends to a ridge, offering great views of the Avra Valley below, and Picacho Peak to the north. The Javelina Wash Trail is a short trail adjacent to the Visitor Center, where interpretive signs help visitors discover the hidden world of a desert wash.  And, the Signal Hill Trail at the Signal Hill Picnic Area is a 300-yard climb rewarding visitors with views of hundreds of 800-year-old petroglyphs.  Just remember to stay on the trail, and do not disturb these important cultural resources.

A varied trail network winds through the (east) Rincon Mountain District.  The 1/4 mile (paved) Desert Ecology Trail is a self-guided interpretive trail where visitors learn of water's role in the desert; the trail has benches for resting amidst a natural cactus garden.  The Freeman Homestead Nature Trail is an easy 1-mile loop, accessed from the 2-way section of the Cactus Forest Loop drive (near the Javelina Picnic Area).  The trail winds through Sonoran Desert habitat, and passes by the adobe remains of the Freeman Homestead.  Numerous trails wind through the Cactus Forest (with elevations below 4,500 feet);  because many of these trails intersect one another, trips of varying lengths can be planned.

Bicyclists are challenged by routes in both districts, but the Cactus Forest Loop drive in the Rincon Mountain District is particularly popular.

Horseback riding is permitted on many trails at both the Tucson Mountain District and the Rincon Mountain District of the Park.

Each year, with support from Friends, Saguaro National Park is able to complete 60 miles (or 1/3 of the trails in the park) of trail maintenance and rehabilitation. 

Pack mules play a vital role in the completion of trail work, resource management projects and fire management in the remote Wilderness areas of Saguaro National Park. Mules (Rusty, Goose, Pee-Wee, Chico, Red, Ruby and Patty) are used to haul supplies and equipment to the work sites. Thanks to the generous support from our donors, FOSNP has been able to purchase five new mules since 2015 to allow the older members of the pack to retire.

Learn more about the Park's trails at the Park's website:http://www.nps.gov/sagu/