Cactus Canyon from Picture Rocks, AZ

Guide 28 Triplogs Mine 0 0 Topics
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 5.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,385 feet
Elevation Gain -200 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2-3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 6.2
 Dogs not allowed
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Photos Viewed All MineFollowing
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
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author avatar Guides 93
Routes 396
Photos 4,198
Trips 3,551 map ( 23,244 miles )
Age 47 Male Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
Associated Areas
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Tucson Region
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Preferred Jan, Dec, Feb, Nov → 8 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  5:25am - 7:18pm
4 Alternative
Nearby Area Water
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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 several routes and loops. I'll call this route Cactus Canyon because that is the destination leg of the route we did, and it is very scenic and typifies the Saguaro West region.

Start 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 Trail breaks off to your right, soon after by Mule Deer Trail. Keep to your left and travel away from the road. The surrounding 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 sandy 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 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 narrows down and becomes much more interesting. After 0.3 miles, the signed takeoff for Ironwood Forest trail breaks out off to your right. Follow this for 1.4 miles through 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.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

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.

 Permit $$

Saguaro National Park
2022 $25 vehicle • $20 motorcycle • $15 individual on foot or bicycle
Receipt is valid for 7 days
$45 Annual Park Pass View All

No fee required from Miller Creek Trailhead off Mescal Rd.

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.
 90+° 8am - 6pm kills
Avoid Heat Illness - stay cool

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