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This trail enters the Cactus Forest from an alternate trailhead that’s not on the loop drive and thus does not require the entry fee.
Begin at Douglas Spring Trailhead on Speedway Blvd.
From there, the trail enters “the kind of cactus forest that inspired the creation of this park,” according to the [National Park Service](https://www.nps.gov/sagu/planyourvisit/saguaro_hiking.htm), with giant saguaros arcing their arms above the trail and all manner of other desert plants that show off their blossoms in spring. Douglas Spring Trail leads gently uphill through this natural garden, heading for the foothills that rise to the Rincon Mountains.
For the simplest version of the loop, turn at the junction with Converse Trail.
If you want more of a challenge, continue up Douglas Spring Trail for as far as you like before turning around.
It gets steeper and rockier but reaches impressive viewpoints from the hills. Converse Trail offers elevated views as well, though more subdued.
The trail crosses the slope at the base of the foothills, looking over Tucson and Mount Lemmon beyond.
At one point the trail crosses a wash and a low area that collects moisture.
Here you have the best chance at spotting wildlife, so approach quietly and attentively. Converse Trail continues to a junction with Garwood Trail, where you’ll turn downhill to round out the loop.
Garwood Trail goes through some of the most impressive cactus forest yet, before rejoining Douglas Spring Trail near the starting point. Sources: https://www.nps.gov/sagu/planyourvisit/saguaro_hiking.htm https://www.americansouthwest.net/arizona/saguaro/douglas-spring-trail.html