Perfect Day: Saguaro National Park

Many people think exploring this 91,440-acre desert park is all about dodging the tall, spiny cacti that earned the place its name. But Southern Arizona Hiking Club guide Steve Singkofer knows better. His favorite 20.3-mile route - including a 4,500-foot climb - reaches overlooks of Tucson and far beyond.
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Many people think exploring this 91,440-acre desert park is all about dodging the tall, spiny cacti that earned the place its name. But Southern Arizona Hiking Club guide Steve Singkofer knows better. His favorite 20.3-mile route - including a 4,500-foot climb - reaches overlooks of Tucson and far beyond.

6:00 From the Douglas Springs trailhead, wander through saguaro and cholla forest.

7:28 At 2.7 miles, follow signed side trail to Bridal Wreath Falls. Dunk head.

7:46 Back on main trail, ascend 1,000 feet to intermittent water source Douglas Springs. Watch for sunning rattlesnakes.

9:33 Head south 2.5 miles into mountains to Cowhead Saddle. Turn west on Tanque Verde Ridge Trail and climb 2.5 miles to the top of 7,049-foot Tanque Verde Peak.

(12S 0534740E 3562180N)

12:15 Sign register; eat lunch gazing on Tucson.

1:07 Hike 4 miles west on slickrock, mostly downhill, on Ridge Trail, following cairns through Juniper Basin to Tanque Verde Dome, a prominent rock formation.

(12S 0528640E 3559366N)

4:38 Arrive at Javelina picnic area after 3 miles; pick up shuttled vehicle.

5:05 Drive north to Tanque Verde Ranch for a steak grilled outdoors.