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Cactus Canyon from Picture Rocks, AZ

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Guide 28 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Tucson W
3 of 5 by 3
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 5.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,400 feet
Elevation Gain -200 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2-3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 6.2
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
20  2017-08-24
SNP West Thunderbird Cactus Canyon Loop
18  2012-02-21 rwstorm
16  2010-11-06 CenAZwalker
5  2010-01-24 lP14
1  2009-03-19 leadhiker
20  2007-08-26 fricknaley
7  2007-06-09 fricknaley
11  2007-04-15
Coyote Pass from Picture Rocks
Page 1,  2
Author fricknaley
author avatar Guides 93
Routes 383
Photos 3,724
Trips 2,742 map ( 18,136 miles )
Age 43 Male Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jan, Dec, Feb, Nov → 8 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:07am - 6:33pm
4 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Secluded Saguaros
by fricknaley

Cactus canyon is simply one of many trails in the northern region of the Tucson Mountain District of Saguaro National Park West. There is a whole network of short trails off Picture Rocks Road that can be combined in any number of routes and loops. I'll call this route Cactus Canyon becuase that is the destination leg of the route we did, and it is very scenic and typifies the Saguaro West region.

Start off by crossing Picture Rocks Road and taking off down the wide sandy wash across from the parking area. Cross through a gate and see a sign that announces you are on the Ringtail trail. This quickly narrows out to an easy to follow trail. A sign for Cam-Boh breaks off to your right, soon after by Mule Deer trail. Keep to your left and travel away from the road. The surrouding area quickly becomes very scenic with close and distant peaks and smaller canyons all around you. The trail winds around, mildly up and down. After a mile the trail ends up in a cross-cutting wash, the Picture Rocks Wash. Hang a right here and follow the wide sany wash for 0.4 miles.

Abruptly on your left is the signed Coyote Pass. Though it is signed, this could be easy to miss since it climbs abruptly out of the wash so heads up. A quick 0.2 mile mild climb on this trail brings you to the signed intersection for Cactus Canyon. Take right here onto Cactus Canyon trail. This is really the best part of the hike I think. Cactus Canyon has a nice secluded feel, is surrounded by low hills and mountains, and has a spectacular stand of large saguaros concentrated in it. A very picturesque area, unfortunately my camera batteries died so I can't prove it. We followed this trail for about 0.7 miles where a small sign marks the trail coming from the other direction. This is the park boundary with some state trust land, though you couldn't tell it. The trail continues onward for quite a ways. We didn't follow it today but I have in the past and it just continues gradually down into a wash and keeps going, staying very pleasant all along. Anyhow, turn around here at the park boundary and go back the way you came to the Picture Rocks Wash.

At the Wash hang a left and continue southwest down it. The wash actually narrows down and becomes much more interesting. After 0.3 miles the signed takeoff for Ironwood Forest trail breaks out of the was to your right. Follow this for 1.4 miles thorugh the desert as it winds and climbs in and out of little washes and ravines. After 1.4 miles a signed Mule Deer trail takes off to your right. Follow this through similar country as you angle your way back to the road. In 0.3 miles you are back at the Ringtail trail. Hang a left and quickly you arrive back at the road and your car.

Check out the Triplogs.

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.

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2005-11-12 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
Cactus Canyon from Picture Rocks
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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!
Cactus Canyon from Picture Rocks
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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
Cactus Canyon from Picture Rocks
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Saguaro West Double
For some reason, I was really feeling like getting in some off trail today. Freshly armed with my newly renewed Saguaro Annual pass, I made my way out from the El Camino del Cerro TH about 3:30. North on the Thunderbird trail to the old mining prospect, and then I started up the eastern side of 3373. I made it up to the ridgeline and continued up to the highpoint for a short break. I continued down the northwest slope and dropped into the Brittlebush wash. This was a nice stretch, almost better than the actual trail. I reconnected with the trail in about a half mile, and then circled east to 3037. I headed up the south face of this one, I actually found it to be more difficult for the sake of more loose footing, and much more cholla. I took another break on top, and then back to the trail and around to the van. Views were good, I could see the Superstitions to the north, but a little hazy. Good off trail excursion, I made it through with only a few little scratches. Shorts approved bushwhack! Two more peaks I haven't yet climbed as well.

Good Brittlebush show, some Creosote bloom, and some occasional Desert Zinnia and Penstemons
Cactus Canyon from Picture Rocks
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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
Cactus Canyon from Picture Rocks
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Finally back out for a creaky hike in the Tucson Mountain foothills. I didn't actually make it all the way out to Cactus Canyon, but I will.

Felt great to be out in the desert again. The cacti are blooming pretty heartily, which is always nice.

Man, I missed the smell of hiking out in the desert.
Cactus Canyon from Picture Rocks
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Cooler than normal today allowed this otherwise "no way"hike in early August. Awesome day today. Saw a massive jackrabbit... :lol: This was the greenest I have ever seen the Tucson Mt. foothills.

Foot feeling better.
Cactus Canyon from Picture Rocks
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I'm back on the trails (I hope). Starting off easy with this nearby little loop. I like to get out in the desert to see the Saguaros bloom at least once a year before it really gets too hot. Leg did OK all things considered. Did a little off trail exploring to scout out a route to an unnamed peak I want to climb soon too. Man, it's good to be back. :)

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.
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