Guidebook

Stop and Smell the Cactus Flowers: Easy Hikes in Saguaro NP East

Casual hikes that are easy to reach from the city, and just happen to be in a stunning national park.

Jesse Weber

Description

Many people don’t know that the city of Tucson is sandwiched between two halves of a national park, making this city one of America’s best for outdoor adventures. Saguaro National Park’s Rincon Mountain District is just east of Tucson, providing a wealth of trails within easy reach of the city. Locals and visitors alike can enjoy a quick jaunt or long forays into the vibrant desert landscape at any time of year. You can avoid the desert heat by going early in the morning and during the winter months, and you’ll rarely have to worry about rain ruining your day.

Of course, the main attractions of Saguaro National Park are the cacti, but you’ll find a surprising bounty of other life in the desert as well. Giant saguaros dominate the landscape, and they’re surrounded by a host of other prickly plants, in all shapes and sizes, each with their own colorful flowers and fruits in season. The flora attracts an abundance of birds, butterflies, and other wildlife year-round. You’ll see geologic formations like sculpted canyons, and can even find rushing waterfalls at certain times of year.

To see all of this on a casual outing in the national park, explore these easy trails in Rincon Mountain District. Some begin from the Cactus Forest Loop Drive, within the main entrance. Others begin from trailheads outside the main park area, giving different options for access points and scenery. Perfect for a solo stroll or for the whole family, these trails explore some of the most amazing outdoors near Tucson.

Mica View Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Mica View Loop

0 - 1 hrs
3.1 km
22 m
22 m
A relaxed stroll in the Cactus Forest, excellent for viewing desert plants, birds, and wildflowers.
Easy
Private
Douglas Spring and Converse Trail Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Douglas Spring and Converse Trail Loop

0 - 1 hrs
2.9 km
37 m
37 m
An easily accessed corner of the Cactus Forest, with especially rich desert flora and broad vistas.
Moderate
Private
Loma Verde Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Loma Verde Loop

1 - 2 hrs
6.0 km
65 m
65 m
A scenic, varied, and uncrowded loop beginning in the Cactus Forest and climbing to higher views near the foot of the mountains.
Moderate
Private
Freeman Homestead Trail

Freeman Homestead Trail

0 - 1 hrs
1.7 km
36 m
36 m
Short loop hike from the Cactus Forest Drive—great for kids and nature lovers of all ages.
Easy
Private
Ridgeview Trail

Ridgeview Trail

1 - 2 hrs
3.8 km
108 m
108 m
Short and sweet hike to an impressive viewpoint in a lesser-visited corner of Saguaro National Park.
Moderate
Private