Hiking is one of our favorite ways to explore any National Park. And the great thing about a lot of Saguaro National Park hikes is that you get major bang for your buck even when just going a short distance!
Since all of Saguaro National Park in Arizona is filled with the gorgeous cacti, you often don’t need to hike enormous distances in order to get to a major reward. That makes this a great place to explore with young or new hikers who are still working on their hiking muscles. So while there are plenty of longer Saguaro hiking trails, you don’t have to do them in order to really experience the park.
Below are some fantastic hikes in Saguaro National Park that will give you beautiful and varied terrain and views, and are easy enough for beginners!
West and East Saguaro National Park
Saguaro is divided up into two different sections, the west (Tucson Mountain District) and east (Rincon Mountain District). They DO NOT connect! So be sure you know to which side you’re headed.
The west is significantly more popular and has more dense cactus growth, but the east has stunning mountain views and far fewer people. It’s a trade off!
What to Pack when Hiking in Saguaro National Park
Desert hiking is definitely different from mountain or coastal hiking. Here are a few essentials we take when hiking in the desert with kids:
The desert is a place of extremes. Especially if you’re hiking early or late in the day to beat the heat, it can get quite cold! We like to take a lightweight but warm jacket (men, women, kids). These are my very favorite wool socks that stay dry, cool, and comfortable. And here are my favorite yoga pants with pockets that I always wear for hikes.
This is an absolute essential when hiking in the desert. I always pack this water bottle since it’s tricky carrying a hydration pack while wearing a baby.
But my kids always wear these kids hiking backpacks with water bladders and they are a literal lifesaver when hiking in hot, dry climates (or anytime, really!). They help us go so much further because they don’t need to stop every 45 seconds for a drink, and they stay better hydrated, too.
Saguaro National Park hiking can be tricky because cacti really don’t provide tons of shade. This is my very favorite sunscreen for myself and especially for my kids. It’s a mineral (zinc-based) sunscreen, so it protects the skin on top instead of soaking in.
Many zinc sunscreens are a giant pain to rub in, but this one rubs in really easily and is just the creamiest texture. I love it so much.
Definitely protect faces and necks from that desert sun! I love this hat for babies.
Again, if you’re heading out early or late, you definitely want to be prepared. A headlamp makes it so much easier and safer to see, especially to keep an eye out for things like rattlesnakes.
Now onto the hikes – here are some easy Saguaro hikes that are great for beginners!
This list of easy Saguaro National Park hikes with kids contains affiliate links, but all opinions are 100% my own. That means I earn a small commission if you purchase through my link, but doesn’t change your price.
8 Easy Saguaro National Park Hikes
Tucson Mountain District Saguaro East Hiking Trails with Kids
Signal Hill Trail
Distance: 0.5 miles
This extremely short trail is highly rewarding. With beautiful vistas and cacti, the prime reward is the ancient rock art. It’s amazing to see the work of the Hohokam people (just make sure you look and don’t touch). You can continue on up the trail if you’d like a longer hike.
Valley View Overlook Trail
Distance: 0.8 miles
Valley View is our favorite easy trail in Saguaro National Park! It’s an easy walk with gorgeous views, and that has tons of cacti around. Don’t miss this one.
Wild Dog Trail
Distance: 1.95 miles
Once you’re on the Valley View trail, you can go straight instead of taking a turn at one point to head on the Wild Dog Trail. There’s thick cactus growth, a wash, and animals that frequent the area. A beautiful Saguaro hiking trail to get a feel for the land.
Desert Discovery Nature Trail
Distance: 0.5 miles
This flat and paved trail is great for kids and adults who want to learn more about the Sonoran desert as it has interpretive signs along the way. It’s also flat and paved and fully accessible.
Distance: 2.3 miles
While this easy Saguaro National Park hiking trail is still relatively short, it does include nearly 400 feet of elevation gain. Be sure to take plenty of water and go early or late in the day. This is a great one if you’re into birdwatching!
Rincon Mountain District Saguaro East Hiking Trails with Kids
Mica View Trail
Distance: 2 miles
The east side of Saguaro National Park is smaller than the west side and doesn’t boast quite as dense a population of cacti. But it also tends to be much less crowded and we’ve felt like we had the park all to ourselves.
The Mica View Trail will take you through groupings of cacti with great views of the Rincon Mountains. It’s just long enough to feel like more than a stroll but it’s still perfect for hiking with kids in Saguaro National Park.
Desert Ecology Trail
Distance: 0.25 miles
The Desert Ecology Trail is very similar to the Desert Discovery Trail on the west side, so there’s no need to do both. But if you’re sticking to the east side of Saguaro National Park, this is a nice paved one that’s perfect for little ones.
Freeman Homestead Trail
Distance: 1 mile
Another great Saguaro National Park kids hiking trail, this one also features interpretive signs along the path to an old homestead.
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