Cactus Forest Trail

Saguaro National Park (East) - Rincon Mountain District, Arizona

Distance5.0mi
Elevation Gain661ft
Trailhead Elevation2,762ft
Top3,096ft
Elevation Min/Max2761/3096ft
Elevation Start/End2762/2762ft

Cactus Forest Trail

Cactus Forest Trail is a hiking and horse trail in Pima County, Arizona. It is within Saguaro National Park (East) - Rincon Mountain District. It is 5.0 miles long and begins at 2,762 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 10.1 miles with a total elevation gain of 661 feet. The Broadway Trailhead parking is near the trailhead. The Cactus Forest Traihead parking can be seen along the trail. This trail connects with the following: Mesquite, Lime Falls Trail, Shantz, Cholla Trail and Mica View.

Cactus Forest Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"A network of day-hiking trails in the low desert of Saguaro National Park allows hikes as short or long as desired.

This intricate network of well-maintained trails crisscrosses the lowlands and foothills of Saguaro National Park’s northwestern corner. There are a large number of trailheads to choose from. Hikers who start from the Cactus Forest Scenic Drive will have to pay an entrance fee; this is not required for other trailheads. The Douglas Spring Trailhead (at the end of Speedway Boulevard) is notorious for break-ins; hikers should always lock their cars with the windows shut and all valuables safely stowed out of sight. The Cactus Forest is open for day hiking and horse use only; overnight camping is not permitted here."

"This trail starts from the scenic loop drive and wanders north through gentle desert terrain past magnificent stands of saguaro cactus. The first portion of the trail, inside the scenic loop drive, is open to mountain bikers. Look for several examples of dead and fallen saguaros, which reveal their inner structure. Unlike trees, saguaros are supported by a ring of woody, individual ribs just under the outer skin of the plant.

The interior consists of a moist pulp, which is protected by the ribs. Unlike some desert plants, saguaros do not use deep groundwater to survive dry periods. Instead, these huge cacti have a shallow root system that collects water rapidly after rains. The entire plant expands as it stores water and gradually contracts as internal moisture is used."

"This trail starts from the scenic loop drive and wanders north through gentle desert terrain past magnificent stands of saguaro cacti. The first portion of the trail, inside the scenic loop drive, is open to mountain bikers. Special Considerations: Carry plenty of water during the hot summer months."

"Starting from the Rincon Visitor Center, the Cactus Forest Loop Drive winds for about 6 miles through a classic section of the Sonoran Desert Valley, with large stands of saguaro cacti as well as expansive views of the Rincon Mountains. The entire loop is paved and most of it is one-way.

In the summer, plan your drive for the cool of early morning. Take a picnic and plan to have lunch at one of the picnic areas, and take a walk along the very short Desert Ecology Nature Trail or a short distance along one of the other trails. Highlights: This scenic drive provides access to the short Desert Ecology Nature Trail and several picnic areas, plus views of saguaro cacti and the Rincon Mountains."

Cactus Forest Trail Reviews

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5/10/2006
Nice flat trail suitable for all ages and abilities. I saw more wildlife on this trail than any other in Tucson area. Views of mountains and desert are very good. Trail can be accessed from 2 points and there are many side trails available.
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3/27/2006
This is a great easier hike to do and get the "feel" of Tucson. There is an incredible variety of cactus. The trails are very well marked, and the terrain changes as you head east into the park. Do it in the cool part of the day though, as it can get hot.
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3/12/2006
Nice and easy walking in a natural desert garden. Trails were well maintained and easy to follow. Good for all ages.
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10/5/2000
This is a nice trail to run on. It is very flat. The scenery is nice and you may run into some animals along the way, so be prepared. Watch for horses, mtn bikers and cross country running teams. If you are looking to get away this is not the trail. very heavy traffic.
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Trail Information

Saguaro National Park (East) - Rincon Mountain District
Nearby City
Saguaro National Park (East) - Rincon Mountain District
Parks
Moderate
Skill Level
A complete map of these trails (including mileages) is available free of charge from the visitor center.
Local Maps