I wanted to take a new wander in the desert today to scout out some nameless peaks in the foothills of Saguaro West National Park. There's a nice network of trails out here that can be linked together into all sort of loops, of all sorts of distances. Many require some wash walking.
For this nice out and back take off from the familiar trailhead just west of Contzen Pass on Picture Rocks road, where I have previously described the Cactus Canyon trail and many others. Cross the street and enter the wash, passing through the little gate immediately where a sign tells you that you are on the Ringtail trail. Take this wash, which soon becomes a trail for about 0.4 miles. Here a sign marks the Muledeer trail to your right.
Take this short connector for 0.3 miles to the Ironwood Forest trail. The Muledeer has some nice views of Picture Rocks and Peak 3263. When the Muledeer drops you on the Ironwood Forest trail there is a sign, and it is in a wash at first. Hang a left and cruise up the wash, which soon narrows in a little meandering trail. There is mild elevation gain and every shape of saguaro you could imagine. The views throughout Saguaro National Park are very nice, and occasionally you can see the Catalinas looming across the way.
In about 1.2 miles the Ironwood will terminate in the broad Picture Rocks Wash, where there's a sign. Hang a right and go about 0.1 miles to a signed fork. Hang a left for the Brittlebush trail. Brittlebush is a combo of a wash, then trail, as it wanders pretty much due south through the foothills. There are nice views of Wasson for a while, and other nameless peaks out in the hills. There are all sorts of cacti. The wash is relatively narrow. The trail breaks out of the wash after about 0.7 miles and there is actually a little sign pointing you out. The narrow, well-defined trail rambles back through the wash and out the other side, gaining a little elevation as you go. After a total of about 0.9-1 mile the trail comes across a sign announcing it as the Brittlebush. This is a boundary with some state trust land, and the trail keeps going. If you follow it for about another 0.15 miles it tops out on a nice saddle looking east. From here you have a nice view of the Catalinas. You can also see the "Three Sisters" as I call them; three prominent pyramidal nameless peaks in the foothills that are just begging for climbing. The trail continues down to intersect with the Thunderbird trail down below.
Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.
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.