Saguaro in One Day
Saguaro in One Day
Before setting off, choose which section of the park to visit and pack a lunch. Also bring plenty of water so you don't get dehydrated in the dry climate (you can't depend on finding water in the park).
If you choose the western section, start out by watching the 15-minute slide show at the Red Hills Visitor Center, then stroll along the 0.5-mi-long Desert Discovery Trail. In the car, head north along Kinney Road, then turn right onto the graded dirt Bajada Loop Drive. Before long you'll soon see a turnoff for the Hugh Norris Trail on your right. Hike up and after about 45 minutes, you'll reach a perfect spot for a picnic. Hike back down and drive along the Bajada Loop Drive until you reach the turnoff for Signal Hill.
Alternatively, if you choose the eastern section, pick up a free map of the hiking trails at the Saguaro East Visitor Center. Drive south along the paved Cactus Forest Drive to the Javelina picnic area, where you'll see signs for the Freeman Homestead Trail, an easy 1-mi loop that winds through a stand of mesquite as interpretive signs describe early inhabitants in the Tucson basin. If you're reasonably fit you might want to tackle part of the Tanque Verde Ridge Trail, which affords excellent views of saguaro-studded hillsides.
Along the northern loop of the Cactus Forest Drive is Cactus Forest Trail, which branches off into several fairly level paths. You can easily spend the rest of the afternoon strolling among the saguaro.
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