Tanque Verde Ridge

Tucson, Arizona

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A hike along a scenic ridge in the Rincon Mountains and Saguaro Wilderness in Saguaro National Park. The Tanque Verde Ridge Trail first heads southeast across the desert foothills, climbing onto the west end of Tanque Verde Ridge. Here, the trail swings northeast and starts a steady climb up this long ridge. The trail dips and winds around small hills and across small drainages, but always tends to follow the main ridge. At first, you will be in the saguaro cactus “forest.” The national park was established to protect this unique and beautiful desert landscape, as well as its plants and animals. As the trail climbs along the ridge, the cactus forest gradually gives way to high desert grassland and pinyon pine–juniper forest. Saguaros are not tolerant of frost, so they disappear from the cooler north-facing slopes first. There are many points with good views of the Tucson area and its mountains along the lower portion of the ridge. As the miniature pinyon–juniper forest becomes thicker, views become limited. Permit: No off-trail hiking below 4,500 feet (the 2-mile point on this hike). Backcountry camping requires a permit; camping allowed only in designated wilderness campsites.

Tanque Verde Ridge Professional Review and Guide

"A hike along a scenic ridge in the Rincon Mountains and Saguaro Wilderness in Saguaro National Park. The Tanque Verde Ridge Trail first heads southeast across the desert foothills, climbing onto the west end of Tanque Verde Ridge. Here, the trail swings northeast and starts a steady climb up this long ridge. The trail dips and winds around small hills and across small drainages, but always tends to follow the main ridge. At first, you will be in the saguaro cactus “forest.”

The national park was established to protect this unique and beautiful desert landscape, as well as its plants and animals. As the trail climbs along the ridge, the cactus forest gradually gives way to high desert grassland and pinyon pine–juniper forest. Saguaros are not tolerant of frost, so they disappear from the cooler north-facing slopes first. There are many points with good views of the Tucson area and its mountains along the lower portion of the ridge. As the miniature pinyon–juniper forest becomes thicker, views become limited. Permit: No off-trail hiking below 4,500 feet (the 2-mile point on this hike). Backcountry camping requires a permit; camping allowed only in designated wilderness campsites."

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Tucson
Distance: 12.4
Elevation Gain: 2,930 feet
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Difficult
Duration: Day hike
Season: Best October to April
Trailhead Elevation: 3,000 feet
Top Elevation: 6,000 feet
Local Contacts: Saguaro National Park
Local Maps: USGS Tanque Verde Peak; Trails Illustrated Saguaro National Park
Driving Directions: Directions to Tanque Verde Ridge

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May 2018