Once you arrive to either district of the park, you can get around by driving, biking, hiking, or horseback riding.
Getting around the Rincon Mountain District (East):
Driving- The Cactus Forest Scenic Loop Drive is a paved, combination one- and two-way road. The Loop Drive features several trailheads, scenic vistas, and pullouts in a total of 8 miles (12.9 km). A guide to the natural and cultural history of the Cactus Forest Loop Drive is available for $2.00 at the visitor center. Trailers longer than 35 feet or any vehicle wider than 8 feet are not permitted on the winding Cactus Forest Drive.
Biking- Bicycling is allowed on the 8 mile Loop Drive as well as on two trails within the park. The Loop Drive is narrow with many tight turns and steep hills. Use extra caution when approaching the first steep downhill after going through the entrance station! Bicyclists must obey all posted speed limits and stop signs.
Mountain biking- Trail riding is permitted only on the 2.5 mile (4.0 km) multi-use portion of the Cactus Forest Trail, which is circled by the Cactus Forest Loop Drive. The trail may be ridden in either direction, but you may not ride against traffic on the one-way portion of the Cactus Forest Loop Drive if you exit the trail on the north end. Trail riding is also permitted on the 2.9 mile (4.7 km) Hope Camp Trail. Click here to go to the Biking Page.
Hiking- To reach the hiking trails from the visitor center, you must drive into the park on the Loop Drive. The first trailhead is accessed in about 2 miles and begins at the Mica View Picnic Area. There are several trailheads with parking off the Loop Drive. Trailheads are also reached from the east end of Speedway Blvd where it dead ends at the Douglas Spring trailhead; the Broadway trailhead; and from Camino Loma Alta, off Old Spanish Trail, about 7 miles south of the park’s entrance. Click here for the Hiking Page.
Multi-use Trail- The portion of the Cactus Forest Trail inside the Loop Drive is open to hikers, bicyclists, and horseback riders. Stay Alert! Make your presence known to other trail users well in advance, particularly when approaching from behind. Cyclists yield to all other trail users and hikers yield to equestrians.
Horseback Riding & Stock Use- Horseback riding off-trail is prohibited. To protect resources and limit damage, livestock are restricted from certain trails entirely:
- South of the intersection of Carillo and Wild Horse Trails
- Tanque Verde Ridge Trail
- Desert Ecology Trail
- Freeman Homestead Trail
Livestock are also prohibited from:
- Mica View Picnic Area
- Javelina Picnic Area
- Visitor Center Area
Horse Trailer Parking: Use designated trailer parking. For trails in the Cactus Forest, use the Wild Horse Trailhead. In the Rincon Valley, trailer parking is available 0.4 mile (0.6 km) south of the Loma Alta trailhead. No trailer parking is provided off the Cactus Forest Loop Drive or at the visitor center. Please park trailer outside the park.
Getting around the Tucson Mountain District (West):
Driving- The Scenic Bajada Loop Drive is a popular way of exploring the district’s foothills. This unpaved, combination one- and two-way graded dirt road offers scenic pullouts, picnic areas, and hiking trailheads in a 6 mile (9.7 km) loop. High clearance or four-wheel drive is not needed to drive the loop. A guide to the natural and cultural history of the Bajada Loop Drive is available for $1.00 at the Red Hills Visitor Center. Trailers longer than 35 feet or any vehicle wider than 8 feet are not permitted on the Bajada Loop Drive.
Directions to the Bajada Loop- The Loop begins at Hohokam Road, one and a half miles west of the Red Hills Visitor Center. Leaving the Red Hills Visitor Center, turn right onto Kinney Road. Follow Kinney Road 1.6 miles (2.6 km) to the loop’s entrance on the right.
The Loop ends where golden Gate Road meets Sandario Road. To return to the visitor center, turn left onto Sandario Road. Continue 0.2 mile to the junction with Kinney Road. Turn left. The visitor center is 2 miles (3.2 km) ahead.
Biking- Bicycling is permitted along the Bajada Loop Drive and Golden Gate Road (both roads are unpaved), as well as all paved roads. Bicycling is not permitted on any trails, except the 0.5 mile (0.8 km) Belmont Multi-use trail. Picture Rocks Road (on the north) is not recommended for bicycling for safety reasons. Click here to go to the Biking Page.
Hiking- Hiking trails can be accessed from several locations throughout the park. Check the map or ask at the visitor center for recommendations. Click here for the Hiking Page.
State Trust Lands- State trust lands are parcels of land within the park held by the Arizona State Land Department. A State Land Recreational Permit is required to hike in these parcels. For more information and to obtain a permit, call (602) 542-4631 or visit http://www.azland.gov.
Horseback Riding & Stock Use- Stock groups are limited to 15 animals. Stock are prohibited from off-trail travel. To protect resources and limit damage, livestock are restricted from certain trails entirely:
- Desert Discovery Trail
- Hugh Norris Trail
- King Canyon Trail from Sweetwater Trail junction to the Hugh Norris Trail junction
- Cactus Wren Trail south of the Encinas Trail
- Manville Trail from Signal Hill Picnic Area to Manville Road
- Bajada Wash Trail from Valley View Overlook Trail to Sus Picnic Area
Livestock are also prohibited from:
- Red Hills Visitor Center Area including the Cactus Garden, Javelina Wash, and Watering Hole trails
- Sus Picnic Area
- Signal Hill Picnic Area
Stock trailers should use Cam Boh, El Camino del Cerro, and Sendero Esperanza trailheads.