Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
9,028.00 ft (2,751.73 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
34.00 mi (54.72 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Tanque Verde Ridge to Mica Mountain Loop is an exceptional and demanding multi-day backpacking journey that spans 34 miles in Saguaro National Park, Arizona. This trek takes hikers from the stark beauty of the desert floor to the cooler, forested elevations of the Rincon Mountains, peaking at Mica Mountain before descending back to the desert.

Starting from the Tanque Verde Ridge Trailhead, you'll begin your ascent along the ridge, which offers expansive views of the Sonoran Desert and the Tucson basin. The trail is strenuous and steep, with significant elevation gain as you progress.

Once you reach the Douglas Spring Trail, you'll experience a change in vegetation, from cacti and palo verde to oak woodlands and pine forests, as the trail climbs higher. This section connects with the Arizona Trail and leads you to Manning Camp, a high-elevation backcountry campsite where you can rest before tackling Mica Mountain.

Mica Mountain, standing at over 8,600 feet, is the highest point in the Rincon Mountain range and offers quite a contrast of scenery to the desert below. After summiting, the loop continues down the Cow Head Saddle Trail, known for its rugged descents and switchbacks, guiding you back to the Tanque Verde Ridge Trail and completing the loop.

FLORA AND FAUNA

Throughout this hike, you'll witness the incredible biodiversity of the park. Lower elevations are dominated by saguaro cacti, creosote bushes, and ocotillo, while higher elevations boast ponderosa pines, Douglas firs, and aspens. Wildlife sightings may include the Gila monster, desert tortoise, Mexican spotted owl, and a wide array of bird species. Mule deer, black bears, and mountain lions also inhabit this area, although they are more elusive.

CAMPING AND PERMITS

Backcountry camping is permitted in designated areas along the trail, such as Manning Camp, with permits required for all overnight stays. These permits can be obtained from the Saguaro National Park's visitor center and should be secured well in advance due to high demand.

PARKING

Parking is available at the Tanque Verde Ridge Trailhead. Ensure to display any required parking permits and secure your vehicle, as this is a popular trailhead for both day hikers and overnight backpackers.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

National Park Pass

Open Year-round

Yes

Days

3

Pros

Peak Bagging. Biodiversity.

Cons

Extreme changes in weather.

Trailhead Elevation

3,125.00 ft (952.50 m)

Highest point

8,621.00 ft (2,627.68 m)

Features

Wildlife
Backcountry camping
Big vistas
Bird watching

Typically multi-day

Yes

Permit required

Yes

Permit self-issue on site

No

Location

Nearby Adventures

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