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A handful of trails start from the Bajada Scenic Loop, giving an up-close tour of the cactus-filled desert.
Valley View is the best for combining a nature walk with landscape views.
It leads through a particularly impressive cactus forest, up a hill to a panoramic overlook.
Signs along the way explain more about the ecology and the landscape. The trail is surrounded by a supreme diversity of desert vegetation.
There are numerous species of cacti, including the giant saguaro, of course.
In some places, the saguaros grow practically in the trail, and you’ll walk directly underneath their arcing arms.
You’ll also walk among spindly-branched ocotillo, leafy trees like palo verde and ironwood, and many low shrubs.
It’s a veritable forest, but not so dense as to obscure views to the surrounding mountains, and not dense enough to give any shade, either.
This hike is best early or late in the day to avoid the worst of the heat. The trail is easy going, on a surface of coarse sand, and with well-built rock stairs on the hills.
From the parking lot, you’ll first go down into a dry wash, then cross it and start to move up.
Continuing across a hillside, you can see across to higher peaks of the Tucson Mountains.
This is just a preview, though.
Put in the work to climb one final section of steeper stairs, and you’ll find the real reward on the hilltop. The overlook grants nearly 360-degree views, with the Tucson Mountains on one side and the flat expanse of the Avra Valley on the other.
You can even see Picacho Peak, a particularly pointy mountain to the north.
There’s a bench where you can sit and take it all in.
When satisfied, simply retrace your steps to the trailhead. Sources: https://www.nps.gov/sagu/planyourvisit/saguaro_hiking.htm https://www.americansouthwest.net/arizona/saguaro/hiking-west.html