This amazing hike leads you through a Saguaro cactus forest to an iconic rock formation. Climb to the top of huge rocks to catch the sunset at one of the best places in Saguaro National Park.

Drive through the gate of Saguaro National Park and continue straight onto Cactus Forest Drive. The 8 Mile loop takes you around to Javelina Rock parking area. Take time to enjoy this drive, it offers great views of the park and opportunities to spot coyotes and other wildlife.

About 7 miles into your drive you will begin ascending along a hill. Just after the top, you will see the Javelina Rock formation on your right. There is a parking area close to the rocks. There is a Javelina picnic area, but you want to park by the rocks and not at the picnic area.

After you park, continue down the paved road on foot for 1 mile to the Cactus Forest trail head. Turn right onto the Cactus Forest Trail. This is your trail for the next few hours. The trail runs north for 2.5 miles to the north part of the Cactus Forest Drive. There are few trails and dry creek beds along the way that you can explore. Do not worry about getting lost here; you are in the middle of a big loop so you will end up by the road if do you take one of the side trails.

This trail is easy with almost no altitude gain. This is classic desert scenery with thousands of Saguaro cacti along the way. Every cactus is unique and you will not get tired of looking at all the odd shapes, who knows, you might even find your twin cactus.

Once you reach the road it is time to head back to catch the sunset. It may be the same way back, but I assure you will find things that were hidden on your way in. As the sun begins to set, the cacti cast super cool shadows on the landscape.

Back at Javelina Rock start making your way to the top of the rocks. You will not need any ropes but be careful on your way up. There are a few huge rocks around that offer great places to sit and watch the sun disappear below the horizon. If you want solitude you will find it, but people are really friendly if you want to sit by them and share the view. The park closes shortly after sunset when the ranger makes his last rounds. You can usually stay until around twilight before they ask you to head out.

Pack List

  • Annual Park Pass
  • Snacks
  • Plenty of water (you are in the desert)
  • Small Pack
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Essential Ten
  • Camera
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RT Distance 7 Miles
Elevation Gain 400 Feet
Activities Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Picnic Area
Scenic
Wildlife

Reviews

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about 2 years ago

Short-cut to the trailhead?

If memory serves me correctly, you take a right turn immediately after going through the ranger's booth, and drive approximately 1.5 miles to the Javelina rock T.H.


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