4 Miles

188 feet


A+++ Views

Saguaro Nest Trail Hike Overview

There is so much to look at on the Saguaro Nest Trail hike! Mountains galore. Make this hike as short or as long as you want. There is minimal elevation, making it a great hot weather hike. This prime Sonoran desert hiking. It’s beautiful, relaxing, and will make you feel great afterwards.

Map & Elevation Profile

Total distance: 3.99 mi
Max elevation: 2648 ft
Min elevation: 2460 ft
Total time: 01:23:49

Map for the Saguaro Nest Trail Hike

Get this map! It’s a good idea to have this guy with you in case you want to go further, explore a new trail or get turned around!

mcdowell mountains green trails map get outdoors get happy

McDowell Mountains Greentrails map

You definitely won’t regret having this map for your McDowell Sonoran Preserve hikes!


We parked on N 128th street along the road and later learned we weren’t supposed to park there. Whoops! According to the map, you should park at Tom’s Thumb trailhead or the Fraesfield trailhead.

Saguaro Nest Trail Hike Trail Notes

This area is so peaceful! It is quiet and beautiful. If you are looking for a nice chill hike to recharge, give this area a try. We only saw one mountain biker and one unicyclist mountain biker (it was crazy and awesome!).

Expect 360-degree mountain views and no powerlines (unlike at Brown’s Mountain). If you love the unobstructed mountain views like me, you will love this hike!

There are lots of little ups and downs without it being too difficult. It’s a great hot weather option (it’s 3 degrees cooler than down in the low valley!) when you need to get some outdoor time in. This area has all the classic desert plants as well. Check out the photos below of a crested saguaro and a weird barrel cactus. You’ll likely see wildlife as well! We saw roadrunners, bunnies, and deer.

When you cross over into the McDowell Mountain Regional Park, you’ll find Jackass Junction (see featured image at the top). It’s a great little stop with supplies to fix a flat or grab a snack. It’s an awesome reminder that people and being outside is good!

So, is the Saguaro Nest Trail hike worth it?

It would probably make sense to spend days and days walking around here. You will definitely get that ‘ahhh, that was so nice’ feel afterwards. You’ll feel happy that you went out there!

Other hikes close by

Check out the Whiskey Bottle Trail hike at the Fraesfield trailhead or hike around Brown’s Mountain (it’s one of the most scenic mountains in this area, IMO!).

Get more inspired to get outside:

Hike to the Lookout, McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Why hike to Tom’s Thumb with you can hike to the Lookout? The views are even better, the trail is fantasic and there are less people!

Dispersed Camping Fire Control Road (NF-64), Payson, AZ

The dispersed camping along Fire Control Road (NF-64) in Payson, AZ, is great! There are quiet sites with great views. Read more here!

Piestewa Vs Camelback? Which Should You Hike?

Piestewa vs Camelback? Not sure which one you should hike? Read this article to help you decide. Hint: they both have pros and cons!

Natural Tunnel Via Dirt Road Trail Hike, South Mountain Preserve

Hiking to the Natural Tunnel via the Dirt Road Trail starts out lame (you’re on a dirt road) but quickly turns into a sweet hike. Learn more!

Latigo Chuckwagon Loop Hike, McDowell Sonoran Preserve

The Latigo Chuckwagon Loop Hike is the best hike starting from the Brown’s Mountain trailhead. It is not as busy and has great views!

Sunrise Trail Hike, McDowell Sonoran Preserve

The Sunrise Trail Hike has a lot to offer: some elevation but not too much, SUPERB views, and not too far outside the city! Read more here.

Forest Road 2076 Hike, Tonto National Forest

The Forest Road 2076 hike starts out pretty lame but then opens up to huge views as you hike out of the wash. Plus you most likely won’t see another soul!

136th St Express Trail Hike, McDowell Sonoran Preserve

The 136th St Express Trail Hike is easy, high on the solitude scale and has mountain views in all directions. Great for those more chill days!

136th St Express/Cow Poke Loop Hike, McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Create a scenic 4 mile loop with the 136th St Express/Cow Poke Loop Hike. It’s beautiful over here and there are fewer people too!

15 Practical Ways to Motivate Yourself to get Outside

It happens to everyone! Sometimes our motivation to get out and enjoy nature is low. That’s ok, here are 15 practical ways to motivate yourself to get outside!