Oracle State Park: Nature Loop Trail

The best trail for wildlife viewing in Oracle State Park

Hiking Moderate

Distance
1.8 km
Ascent
39 m
Descent
39 m
Duration
0-1 hrs
Low Point
1.3 km
High Point
1.3 km
Gradient
Oracle State Park: Nature Loop Trail Map

"Oracle State Park is a 4,000 acre wildlife refuge in the northern foothills of the Catalina Mountains," asserts the park website. Here, you'll also find "day-use picnic areas and over 15 miles of trails for use by hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians." Even though a section of the Arizona Trail crosses the park, the trails here seem to be more of an afterthought than the primary purpose of the park. The primary purpose does appear to be the wildlife habitat, and you can enjoy that wildlife thanks to these after-thought trails and this loop hike through the park.

Description

While Oracle State Park is surrounded by a harsh desert landscape, the park itself lies on a series of low foothills and ridges below the Catalina Mountains. Seasonal streams flow through the bottoms of the narrow, steep-sided valleys of the park, and those valleys provide protection that allows a variety of trees and undergrowth to thrive. These long, narrow oases provide a beautiful habitat for all manner of wildlife to thrive.

According to the park, "the most commonly sighted mammals include Coues white-tailed deer, coyote, bobcat, javelina, gray fox, cottontail rabbits, all four Arizona skunks (white-striped, spotted, hooded and hognose), many other small mammals, and an occasional mountain lion.

"Common bird sightings include scrub jay, Gambel’s quail, raven, cardinal, great horned owl, cooper’s hawk, redtailed hawk, harris’s hawk, turkey vulture, gila woodpecker, say’s phoebe, curve-billed thrasher, hooded oriole, canyon towhee, phainopepla and many other seasonal migrants, including warblers, hummingbirds and sparrows.

"Reptiles include a variety of snakes and lizards featuring the western diamondback rattlesnake and clark’s and desert spiny lizards, western fence lizard, giant spotted lizard and several others. The Gila monster and desert tortoise can also be seen."

The short loop mapped here is known as the Nature Loop. This easily-accessible trail offers the best opportunity to see wildlife in the park within a short distance from the trailhead. One particular vantage point provides a great spot to look up and down a lush wash that provides a remarkable habitat for desert wildlife.

Difficulty

Moderate

Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

Low Exposure

1 out of 4

The path is on completely flat land and potential injury is limited to falling over.

Remoteness

1 out of 4

Close to help in case of emergency.

Best time to visit

January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

Features

  • Wildlife

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area