Saguaro National Park (West)

Had enough of the Phoenix area for a while so I started heading east. Ended up at Saguaro National Park, West Section (Tucson Mountain District) which is of course in Tucson, Arizona. Weather was a perfect 72°F and partly sunny, however I forgot it was a Saturday which means National Parks regardless of location are packed with self-centered jackwagons who don’t know how to behave. More on that later, not gonna let it ruin my fun, now on to the photos!

Signal Hill Trail

Didn’t really know where to start – it’s a very large park split into east and west sections. Figured daylight is a wasting so I hit the first trail which ended up being the Signal Hill Trail which I would make into a loop. From the parking area it’s only a short walk but does involve a rock staircase to the top of the boulder pile. From here you can see the minor Tucson Mountains range including the highest local point in Wasson Peak.

What’s really special about this spot is the largest collection of petroglyphs in the Tucson Mountain District. These drawings are prehistoric ranging in age from 550 to 1500 years old and were made by the Hohokam people (which I have been learning about other stops like Casa Grande). Lots of spiral shapes, eyes/suns, stick-figure people, and shapes of horned animals like deer or elk.

Trails are clearly marked and there are easy to find warning signs saying “STAY OFF THE ROCKS, STAY ON THE TRAIL” to protect these unique cultural resources. But of course you know what that means…

Of course that means people don’t read and don’t care. One example is this guy who was in complete I-have-to-touch-every-rock mode while he video’d with his cell phone. Dude might have been tripping on peyote from what I could see (or just high on life but he was a bit odd). There were other people not in this photo doing the same thing. Most people were respectful though.

Cactus Wren Trail

From atop Signal Hill you can also see the desert floor below as it stretches clear across to the next mountain range. From here it looks flat and extremely green for about as far as the eye can see. The trail leads back down the hill and onto the Cactus Wren Trail to get a closer look down in the sandbox.

Overall it’s a very flat and easy hike, save for a few spots where the sand is softer and needs some extra leg muscles to keep moving. Horses are legal to ride on many of these trails so be sure to check the park map to know where they will be. Watch out for horse apples!

If you like cactus this might be the trail for you – lots of different species and they are everywhere. The bright yellow pineapple fruits on top of this fishhook barrel cactus are one of the more unique and eye-catching features in an otherwise monotonous blue/green/brown color pallete of the area.

Mannville Trail

As the Cactus Wren Trail loops around it turns into the Mannville trail. Basically the same view in reverse. Lots of people walking their dogs here including these careless and rude folks who let their two dogs run free (one of them has a fake “service dog” harness and was definitely not a service dog). Piss poor dog owners are the worst of the worst.

Did I mention all the dog logs on this trail too? Turds everywhere. Dogs off leash everywhere. Piss poor dog owners are the worst of the worst. I can only hope Cujo Lecter turns on them someday and eats their liver with a nice side of Snausages…fft fft fftt fftt.

Nearing the end of the loop you go through a broad wash where the sand/gravel is a little soft and hard to move quickly through. However this was the quietest and most serene spot of the place and I saw several birds & other wildlife here (no photos, they are much too fast). After this it was back to the truck and time to head out – I’ve had enough of the other tourist’s antics and there is so much more to see elsewhere!

Hiking Data

Here’s the trail path I took – Signal Hill -> Cactus Wren > Mannville in a counterclockwise loop. I seem to always go counterclockwise. Maybe I’m the one who is backwards?

Elevation, pace, and distance stats. Pretty easy 4.3 miles Nice spot for a flat walk to stretch your legs but go during the week to avoid crowds.


Author’s Note: Due to many reasons – none of them very good – I’m posting this from the future in March 2022. Actual visit date/time December 7, 2019 12:47pm. I’ll backdate it later so as to maintain chronological order. I’ve got an overwhelming backlog of photos to process which is probably why I procrastinate. Hope you enjoy them all the same.

Lat = 32.2897491 , Long = -111.2086792 -- Show at Google Maps

2 thoughts on “Saguaro National Park (West)”

  1. Pingback: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum – AdamMartin.SPACE

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.