Cactus Forest Trail

Thanks to a very wet winter, wildflowers are giving Tucson a great show right now. Yellow and orange African Daisies and Poppies fill yards where the homeowners have planted wildflower seeds, and in the outlying desert areas to the north and west yellow Brittlebush is abundant, but at the base of the Rincon Mountains on the east side of town, the dominant color is not yellow, but rather, white. This photo of White Zinnia (Zinnia acerosa) is from the Cactus Forest Trail, which I hiked with my son earlier in the week. This trail runs five miles in a southerly direction from near the east end of Broadway (just east of Freeman Rd.), through Saguaro National Park  (www.nps.gov/sagu)  to Old Spanish Trail at about Irvington Road. It’s an easy hike on mostly flat sandy soil on the northern half of the trail with gradual up and down mellow hills on the southern half. The overall elevation gain is only 550 feet, so it’s a good hike for anyone who wants to get out in the desert, but not do too strenuous a climb. Those with back or knee problems should do just fine on this trail. It’s considered a ten-mile “out and back” trail, but there is road access on each end (though only roadside parking), so you could hike the full ten miles, do a five-mile one way hike or, if you start from the Broadway end, just do a one mile hike to the picnic area and head back. Now is the perfect time to hike before the temperatures climb! We did our hike late in the day, ending just after sunset.

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