Ironwood Forest Trail to Picture Rocks Wash, Saguaro West - Tucson Mountain District: Ringtail Trailhead, Saguaro National Park, Arizona

Ironwood Forest Trail to Picture Rocks Wash - 5.5 miles

Saguaro West - Tucson Mountain District: Ringtail Trailhead

Diverse vegetation along the Ironwood Forest Trail

Diverse vegetation along the Ironwood Forest Trail

Round-Trip Length: 5.5 miles
Start-End Elevation: 2,389' - 2,670'
Elevation Change: +281' net elevation gain (+351' approximate total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Easy-Moderate
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Ironwood Forest Trail to Picture Rocks Wash - 5.5 Miles Round-Trip

The Ringtail Trailhead is located in the Tucson Mountain District of Saguaro National Park.

It accesses a well-marked trail network with numerous routing options through an ecologically rich and topographically complex landscape.

The Ironwood Forest Trail and southern portion of the Picture Rocks Wash Trail lead deep into an isolated section of the foothills, where visitors will enjoy diverse flora and light crowds:

The Ironwood Forest Trail trail begins in a sandy wash past the Cam-Boh Trail junction (.1 mile) to a split where you'll bear left to remain on track (.35 miles).

The sign is partially concealed, but a cairn lies in the wash just before the sign to mark it. The trail bends south past the Mule Deer Trail (.4 miles : 2,418') and narrows on a mild climb above the wash.

Saguaros in all growth phases are joined by palo verde, mesquite, creosote, various cholla species and omnipresent prickly pear. Look for javalina and deer activity in this area.

The trail can lose clarity beyond the first mile, especially after heavy rain. Horse prints and droppings - common along this trail network - offer reliable guidance.

Views of Amole Peak and Wasson Peak emerge as you reach the trail's highest point (2,564') and drop to the Picture Rocks Wash Trail junction (1.8 miles : 2,517). Turn right in the wide and well-defined wash.

In about 150 yards you'll reach the Picture Rocks Wash - Brittlebush Trail split (1.9 miles : 2,529'). Bear right and continue up Picture Rocks Wash, which is densely lined by mesquite, cats claw, palo verde and jojoba.

At 2.75 miles a prominent sign in the center of the wash ends the official trail (2,670'). No stock is permitted beyond this point, but travel is possible on foot for a short time before the wash fades in the foothills.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N32 19.655 W111 07.835 — Ringtail Trailhead

Worth Noting

  • At the trail's terminus in the wash, experienced hikers may continue deeper into the foothills on a social path. Be mindful of rattlesnakes, and never place your hands or feet where you can't see them.

  • Despite good signage and markings, hikers are encouraged to bring a map for safety, and allow for a bit of improvisation.

  • Regardless of intended route and distance, always carry extra water and full sun protection.

Camping and Backpacking Information

  • There is no camping in the Tucson Mountain District of Saguaro National Park. Backcountry camping is permitted only in Saguaro East; reservations and a free permit are required and can be obtained at the visitor center.

Directions to Trailhead

From Tucson take the Ina Road exit off I-10 and head west for a few miles on Ina Road. Turn left onto Wade Road which quickly becomes Picture Rocks Road and begins to head west through the Tucson Mountains. Shortly after the Saguaro National Park sign, you'll head downhill into a true hairpin curve and at this curve in the road there is a paved yet unmarked pull-out area to your right on the north side of the road. Park here and the trails begin just across the street on the south side of Picture Rocks Road. Because this trailhead is technically unmarked, pay close attention to the directions.

Contact Information

Saguaro National Park Tucson Mountain District
27 North Kinney Road
Tucson, AZ 85743

Arizona State Land Department
233 North Main Ave
Tucson 85701

Trip Reports

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