Tanque Verde Ridge Trail - Saguaro National Park
For living so close to Saguaro National Park, I don't make it there as much as I should. The Park is split into two districts, East and West, on either side of Tucson. The East district is 10 minutes from my home. I decided to hike a trail I've hiked before but only the hundred feet or so. I knew this trail climbed some more and I was excited to gain some elevation to get a better view of the surrounding Sonoran Desert.
In April the desert is already starting to heat up so I got an early start to beat the heat. I also beat the crowds. This is a popular trail and can be fairly crowded, especially closer to the trailhead. If you want to get away from the crowds seeing the National Park I suggest hiking further along the trail.
I steadily climbed up Tanque Verde Ridge until I could see on either side of the ridge, the Santa Catalinas to my north, the Santa Ritas to my south, and Rincon Peak peeking up from another ridge.
Beautiful blooms of the ocotillo, prickly pear, brittlebush, and wildflowers sprinkled the desert. It's still a bit early for saguaro blooms, those typically start to come out in May.
Tanque Verde Trail continues to climb into the Rincon Mountains, all the way to Juniper Basin and intersects with several trail junctions that can take you to Grass Shack, Manning Camp and Mica Mountain. I ran into a backpacker who had stayed at Juniper Basin the night before but only stayed one night since the spring there was dry and he'd run out of water. It's always disappointing to cut a trip short but better to be safe and smart than in trouble.
For this hike I turned around at the crested saguaro. There isn't an officially trail sign designating a turn around spot but this is where people generally turn around. I thought the crested saguaro was a great marker for a turn around spot, you definitely can't miss it!
This beautiful hike was a great reminder that I need to take advantage of the National Park more often. People travel from all over the world to visit here and it's in my backyard! How lucky am I to be so close to such a national treasure.
Tanque Verde Ridge Trail, Saguaro National Park
Date hiked: April 16, 2022
Total miles: 3.5 miles out & back
Elevation gain: 925 feet
Total time: 3 hours
Land acknowledgement: Ancestral lands of the Tohono O'odham and Yaqui