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Gila Monster Loop, AZ

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Guide 20 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Tucson W
3 of 5 by 1
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 5.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,515 feet
Elevation Gain 262 feet
Accumulated Gain 486 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 Hours
Kokopelli Seeds 7.93
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
20  2017-08-24
SNP West Thunderbird Cactus Canyon Loop
10  2009-03-01 fricknaley
12  2007-11-22 fricknaley
12  2007-06-29 fricknaley
Author fricknaley
author avatar Guides 93
Routes 383
Photos 3,724
Trips 2,743 map ( 18,146 miles )
Age 43 Male Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jan, Dec, Feb, Mar → 7 AM
Sun  6:09am - 6:29pm
Official Route
3 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Culture Nearby
Take a bite out of the desert
by fricknaley

The Tucson Mountain foothills in Saguaro West National Park offer many trails that can be pieced together for various length hikes. I put together a nice lasso loop that rambles through the low desert foothills, perfect for early morning summer walks and daytime winter strolls. It rolls through pristine desert and huge saguaro stands. By connecting the Coyote Pass trail with Cactus Canyon via the Gila Monster trail, you have a perfect short and easy hike.

Start this hike from the Ringtail trailhead which I have described before under the Cactus Canyon hike. This pleasant trail starts off in a wash and heads east and south around the base of Picture Rocks to your left. Almost immediately the Camboh trail breaks off to the right. As you stroll along a little farther another signed intersection for the Mule Deer trail breaks off to the right. Just stay on the Ringtail. It crosses a couple of washes and just generally meanders through the desert until it ends in a wide, sandy wash known and signed as the Picture Rocks wash. The Ringtail runs a total of one mile before ending in this wash. There are some nice views out to the Catalinas along the way too.

Turn right into Picture Rocks wash and follow it for about 0.4 miles. A signed trail will break to the left out of the wash. Take it as it climbs out for 0.2 miles where the trail splits at a signed intersection. Take the left fork to Coyote Pass. This short trail cuts through perfect desert, first dropping slightly to cross a wash then slowly climbing to the Coyote Pass. From the pass you can see out over Tucson. A gradual descent follows into a wash and after a total of 0.8 easy miles you dead-end in another signed wash.

This is the Gila Monster trail. Take a right here and follow the more narrow and rocky wash. In the early morning hours there will be some blessed shade. Within 0.1 miles a small signed trail breaks out to your left, the Windmill trail. Stay in the wash as it narrows down. At about 0.3 miles along the way, the wash takes a hard left and a visible trail goes straight. Stay on this straight path as it climbs away and to your right towards the backside of Cactus canyon.

After a total of about 0.7 miles you come to a sign announcing Cactus Canyon. This is apparently the end of Gila Monster trail. Just keep going. Cactus Canyon is chock full of magnificent saguaros. It tops out on a small pass giving great views out over Picture Rocks and Panther Peak. After a total of 0.7 miles on Cactus Canyon you are back at the intersection with Coyote Pass. Keep going back to Picture Rocks wash and hang a right. Follow the wash back to the Ringtail, which breaks out of the wash to your left. From here it's back to the trailhead.

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2007-06-29 fricknaley
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WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent Triplog Reviews
Gila Monster Loop
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as expected things forced plan b, then plan c

double lasso loop from camboh picnic area using a bunch of the short saguaro national park west foothills trails
camboh - mule deer - ringtail - cactus canyon - gila monster - abington/vertical cliffs loop - coyote pass - ironwood forest and back home on camboh.

despite the tame appearing mileage/elevation stats, these are pretty challenging trails to run. lot of sharp, loose rocky footing and deep sandy washes.

got hot the last 2 miles and suffered a little.

cacti are starting to bloom. actually saw 4 or 5 people for once!
Gila Monster Loop
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morning run before work (but with the sun up for once - novel!)

Ringtail out to cactus canyon and gila monster. checked out some of the new belmont area trails (abington, veterans and vertical cliffs), then back over coyote pass and ringtail. picturesque morning and good flowers.

goes without saying that i saw nobody
Gila Monster Loop
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big lasso loop: camboh-mule deer-ringtail-cactus canyon-gila monster-a bunch of new trails-coyote pass-ironwood forest-camboh
found a bunch of new trails on the east end out by the gila monster windmill - pretty cool.
nice day
decent effort for being post call :zzz:
saw nobody. never do out here. actually not sure if i ever have
Gila Monster Loop
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Out to see what the flower situation is, and to check out my foot. This time last year (a week earlier even) there were thousands of poppies and lupine, and an abundance of chicory. Very few poppies and scattered mallow along the washes right now and little of anything else. Still a beautiful warm day.

Permit $$

Saguaro National Park
2019 $20 vehicle, $15 motorcycle or $10 for any individual on foot or bicycle - the receipt is valid for 7 days Fees

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
From Tucson take exit 246 off I-10 and go west on Cortaro until it ends at a T. Turn right here onto Ina for a short distance, then Left onto Wade. Wade quickly becomes Picture Rocks Road and crosses through the Tucson Mountains. You'll see a couple of signs announcing Saguaro National Park. As you come down the west side of the mountains the road swings hard to the right and there is a paved pull out area to the right. Park here. The trails take off just across the street.
$17 3L Hydration Bladder
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