It’s funny how one can live in Tucson for years, go hiking a lot and yet never know about some trails. Tanque Verde Ridge trail was one of those trails for me. If it wasn’t for the map I saw on my hike at the Loma Alta trailhead, I wouldn’t have known about it. The Tanque Verde ridge trail climbs up the very long ridge to Tanque Verde peak and well beyond that, in the Rincon mountains. The entire trail is contained in the Saguaro National Park, which is where the trail begins ($10 to enter by car, $25 for an annual pass). Even though I spent six hours on the trail and hiked just short of six miles in, it still seemed like I was only beginning on the trail. Even still, I made it to 2750 feet above the parking lot (that’s 4500 feet of climbing if you include all the ups and downs).
But Tanque Verde trail is very nice for several reasons. One, the parking lot is positioned right next to the mountain, so there’s no extra walking just to get to the base of the climb. Two, the trail is very well marked with trail cairns and it’s also well worn, so it’s easy to follow. Three, the trail is not steep so someone like me who is overweight doesn’t have to stop all the time to catch one’s breath. And finally, even though the ridge is quite wide, you do get incredible views stretching over a very wide range of mountains and valleys around Tucson.
Here is the Google Earth video of my hike (full GPX file is available here):
And here is the Google Earth profile:
Here is the map that is displayed at the trailhead, along with the sign post for the trail (note the park website has a better map available here):
And this is the iPhone video I made, taken mostly at the highest point on my hike:
And the panoramas I took with my iPhone, looking in all directions: