Cactus Wren

One-way Distance: 1.4 miles
Difficulty: Easy
MTB Skill level:
Elevation: 1678 - 1758 feet
Cellphone: 3-5 bars
Time: 30 mins.
Trailhead: Desert Vista
Fee: none
Attractions: Good alternate route

The Cactus Wren trail is located in the Southern Area of the Sonoran Preserve in Phoenix, Arizona. It begins off of the Valle Verde trail where it travels around the base of Union Peak and comes to an end near the 1 mile point of the Great Horned Owl Loop. The Cactus Wren trail provides an easier alternative to the first mile of the Great Horned Owl Loop which has much steeper grades.

The Desert Vista trailhead is located at 1900 West Desert Vista Trail. There are restrooms and water available at the trailhead.

The start of the Cactus Wren trail is 1.7 miles from the trailhead via the Desert Tortoise trail.

As the trail begins it has a slight uphill grade as it climbs around the foothills of Union Peak.

The trail doesn't gain more than 20 feet of elevation before leveling off and heading on around the base of the mountain.

For the most part the surface of the trail is smooth with only gravel sized rocks.

There is at least one spot where another trail comes up at an unmarked junction. To stay on the main trail keep to the right.

The trail crosses a shallow wash and begins climbing a little more as it finishes off the last half mile.

After 1.4 miles the Cactus Wren trail meets up with the Great Horned Owl Loop and comes to an end. While the Cactus Wren trail isn't completely flat anyone that has done the first mile of the Great Horned Owl Loop will probably agree that it is a much easier alternative. Of course, that means that you lose the option of adding in the Union Peak trail that is at the midpoint of the stretch of trail that you would be skipping. We did all parts of all the trails and while hiking Union Peak is when we noticed that mountain bikers were taking Cactus Wren. After doing Cactus Wren for ourselves it was easy to see why. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is grab your bike or 'Take a hike'.