Mesquite Loop

Round Trip Distance: 3.9 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 2768 - 2884 feet
Cellphone: 3-5 bars
Time: 1 hr. 30 mins.
Trailhead: North Cactus Forest
Fee: $15/vehicle
Attractions: Desert ecosystem, variety of cacti, wildlife

The Mesquite Trail is located in the Rincon Mountain District of Saguaro National Park on the eastern outskirts of Tucson, Arizona. A loop hike is made by combining sections of the Cactus Forest, Cholla and Loma Verde trails with the Mesquite trail. The Cactus Forest hiking area has numerous interconnecting trails that can be combined to make a hike of any length that suits an individuals preference.

The Cactus Forest North trailhead is the 3rd trailhead along the Cactus Forest Loop Road. It is located between the Desert Ecology and Loma Verde trailheads. There is a trail heading south from the parking area that leads to the Lime Kilns and the south trailhead as well as a trail that heads northward that is across the road from the parking area. This hike begins by crossing the road and following the Cactus Forest trail to the north.

The trail is easy to follow and very pleasant to hike. For hikers that are unfamiliar with the area and all of its interconnecting trails it is recommended to pick up a free hiking brochure at the Visitor Center to take along on the hike.

The hike begins by following the Cactus Forest trail north for about 6 tenths of a mile to the beginning of the loop at the junction of the Mesquite trail.

Continue north on the Cactus Forest trail for another half mile to the point where the Cholla trail branches off to the right.

Follow the Cholla trail eastward toward the Loma Verde trail. There is an octopus looking saguaro cactus near the start of the Cholla trail. Some of the saguaro look so unusual it is like they have their own personality.

Continue on the Cholla trail to the Loma Verde trail and follow it south toward the Loma Verde trailhead and Cactus Forest Loop Road.

After following the Loma Verde trail for about a third of a mile the Mesquite trail branches off to the right.

The Mesquite trail comes close to the Cactus Forest Loop Road but then begins moving away again while it bends toward the northwest. The Mesquite trail is only about 1 mile in length by itself. When it rejoins the Cactus Forest trail at the beginning of the loop return to the trailhead over the now familiar route. It is interesting the the Mesquite trail begins in a grove of mesquite trees but after a very short distance they become few and far between.

Several young saguaro growing up beneath the sheltering cover of a palo verde tree.

The Mesquite Loop is an example of how you can make up your own hike by combining several of the numerous trails in the Cactus Forest area to suit your own personal fancy. The free hiking brochure that you can pick up at the Visitor Center or print online lists some recommended hikes to begin with and from there you can get a little creative on your own. If you would like to try it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.