Douglas Spring

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

Elevation Gain5,306ft
Trailhead Elevation2,752ft
Elevation Min/Max2752/6128ft
Elevation Start/End2752/2752ft

Douglas Spring

Douglas Spring is a hiking and horse trail in Pima County, Arizona. It is within Saguaro National Park (East) - Rincon Mountain District. It is 9.9 miles long and begins at 2,752 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 20.1 miles with a total elevation gain of 5,306 feet. The Douglas Spring Trailhead parking is near the trailhead. The Aguila Tank (elevation 3,730 feet) and Tina Larga Tank (elevation 4,393 feet) reservoirs and the Douglas Camp Spring can be seen along the trail. This trail connects with the following: Cow Head Saddle Trail, Three Tank Trail, Converse, Garwood Trail, Bridal Wreath Falls Trail, Ernie's Falls Trail, Tanque Verde Ridge Trail, Manning Camp Trail and Carrillo Trail.

Douglas Spring Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Hiking Arizona's Cactus Country-Third Edition (Falcon Guides)
Erik Molvar
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"A backpack from the national park boundary to the Chimenea Canyon Trail, 10.2 miles one way. This trail follows the northern border of Saguaro National Park, climbing steadily through the foothills of the Rincon Mountains. It begins in a typical Sonoran Desert community of mixed cactus and desert scrub, climbs through high-desert grasslands, and winds up in oak-pine woodlands at Cow Head Saddle. Here it links up with the Tanque Verde Ridge Trail, which backpackers can follow all the way to Manning Camp on the Mica Mountain massif. Alternately, travelers might choose to drop down into Chimenea Canyon to camp at Grass Shack Spring or head west to camp at Juniper Basin."

Douglas Spring Trip Reports

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This is an excellent trail for an out-n-back backpack trip. My son (13) and I did it this weekend. Let me provide some sorely missing details. First, to stay overnight at Douglas Springs, you need to get a permit from the park HQ. They will only issue a same-day pass if it's before noon, so plan to get the pass BEFORE NOON if you plan to hike/camp the same night that you get the permit. The trail is well-beaten, so ignore the warnings about not recognizing the trail (we found it easily). The park service has kept the trail in very good condition. WATER IS NOT DRINKABLE at Douglas Springs, so bring ALL your own. When we got to the spring in late April, there were several clear pools, but the water was not potable. HEAT - the hike from the parking area took us exactly 3 hrs to get to the campground (2.5 hours to return), and it was HOT. So, pack plenty of water (plan on at least 2 gallons per person per 3-hr trip for this hike and NEVER UNDERESTIMATE the risk of dehydration in Arizona's RUTHLESS deserts). Wear sunscreen and A HAT, as the sun will abuse you terribly on the trek up. Now, the hardest part of the hike is the first 3-miles. The total distance to the campground is 6.7 miles, and you will gain nearly 2 thousand feet. The steepest grade is in the first 1.6 miles. So, when you start your hike, do not be discouraged by the steep initial grade, as the trail tames out abit after the 3.0 mile marker - BUT, the trail rarely goes flat, so prepare for a nice, steady climb all the way. As for scenery, do not plan on seeing waterfalls unless it's the rainy season or just after the snow melts. Arizona is not known for it's rushing mountain streams, and this trail is no exception. The first 3 miles are typical Sonoran ruggedness - exposed rock gulleys, burnt spurs and lotsa cacti. We went in the Spring, and the cactus flowers were stunning.
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Did the first ~6 miles of this as a trail run. The many rock steps make for slow running/hiking and I smacked my leg once failing to lift my foot enough. However, the scenary and views are very rewarding and the return trip is challenging and fun and, best of all, downhill!

Douglas Spring Photos

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Trail Information

Saguaro National Park (East) - Rincon Mountain District
Nearby City
Saguaro National Park (East) - Rincon Mountain District
Moderate to Difficult
Skill Level
Additional Use
USGS Tanque Verde Peak, Mica Mountain; Trails Illustrated Saguaro National Park Map; Rincon Mountains Hiker’s Map
Local Maps

Trail Log