Cactus Wren Trail - Manville Trail Loop, Saguaro West - Tucson Mountain District: Signal Hill Trailhead, Saguaro National Park, Arizona

Cactus Wren Trail - Manville Trail Loop - 4.5 miles

Saguaro West - Tucson Mountain District: Signal Hill Trailhead

Diverse desert and thornscrub covers the flats around Signal Hill

Diverse desert and thornscrub covers the flats around Signal Hill

Round-Trip Length: 4.5 miles
Start-End Elevation: 2,455' - 2,455' (2,495' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +240' total roundtrip elevation gain
Skill Level: Easy-Moderate
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Cactus Wren Trail - Manville Trail Loop - 4.5 Miles Round-Trip

Though many visit Signal Hill for its fascinating collection of petroglyphs, few venture beyond these attractions to explore the ecologically rich Cactus Wren and Manville trails.

The two form an easy 4.5 mile loop through a lush desert scrub community highlighted by mature saguaro and large ironwood and mesquite trees.

It's worth noting that, despite light use, these trails run close to the park boundary, and hikers will likely experience elements of civilization. Dawn and dusk are ideal times to minimize such factors, and increase your chance of seeing the area's abundant wildlife.

The following description travels counter-clockwise from the Signal Hill Trailhead:

Follow signs from the parking lot across the wash toward Signal Hill and the Cactus Wren and Manville trails.

Interpretive signs direct your attention to the petroglyphs on Signal Hill, where a short spur leads to the main petroglyph viewing area (.15 miles : 2,483')

Continue down from Signal Hill onto the Cactus Wren Trail, which levels through a busy desert scrubland. The next 1.1 miles pass easily through dense plots of saguaro, cholla, ironwood, mesquite and palo verde.

Frequent wash crossings are a good place to look for animal tracks, while breaks in the vegetation offer views of Apache Peak (3,076'), Wasson Peak (4,687'), Panther Peak (3,435') and Safford Peak (3,563').

The Cactus Wren passes the Encinas Trail (1.15 miles : 2,350'), which bisects the Loop and provides an optional shortcut.

The Cactus Wren Trail continues straight to the Manville Trail and 1st of two connections with Sandario Road (1.95 miles). Make a sharp left turn south.

The Manville Trail crosses the Encinas Trail (2.35 miles) and consecutive washes to its 2nd connection with Sandario Road (3.5 miles). Make a hard left turn toward Signal Hill.

The trail turns sharply east in a wide, brushy wash back to the trailhead. This is actually the same wash you first crossed to access Signal Hill and the Cactus Wren Trail at the very beginning of the hike.

The wash is sparingly marked, but the path is fairly intuitive and well defined. Anticipate moderately deep sand and occasional obstructions in the wash on this final mile.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N32 17.378 W111 12.515 — Signal Hill Trailhead

Worth Noting

  • Despite proximity to busy park access roads, these trails see light use and are good choices for easy dawn and dusk hiking.

  • The Cactus Wren-Manville Loop is a fun and scenic running trail, though significant portions pass through moderately deep sand.

  • Portions of the loop are vague, and may lose clarity through washes and overgrown segments. Remain vigilant, especially through washes.

  • Rattlesnakes inhabit this area. Be mindful of your footing and stay on designated trails at all times.

  • Distance Note: Though some maps show this Loop to be 3.6 miles, it's likely the final .9 miles of the Manville Trail - illustrated but not tallied - account for the discrepancy.

Camping and Backpacking Information

  • Backcountry camping is not permitted in the Tucson Mountain District of Saguaro National Park. Backcountry camping is permitted in the Rincon Mountain District (east of Tucson). Reservations and permits and can be obtained at the visitor center.

Directions to Trailhead

The Signal Hill Picnic Area & Trailhead is located on the Bajada Loop Drive, 3.5 miles north of the Red Hills Visitor Center in the Tucson Mountain District of Saguaro National Park.

From Tucson, take Speedway Blvd west (it will become West Gates Pass Road) and continue west to Kinney Road. Turn right onto Kinney Road and follow it past the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum and Red Hills Visitor Center until it intersects with Hohokam Road. Turn right onto Hohokam Road (also known as the Bajada Loop) and follow to Golden Gate Road, looping left onto Golden Gate Road. The Signal Hill Picnic Area is accessed via a well-marked 'driveway' off of Golden Gate Road.

Worth Noting: The Bajada Loop is made up of Golden Gate Road (top half of loop) and Hohokam Road (bottom half of loop).

Contact Information

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

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