Sendero Esperanza Trail to the Gould Mine Loop, Saguaro West - Tucson Mountain District: Sendero Esperanza Trailhead, Saguaro National Park, Arizona
Sendero Esperanza Trail to the Gould Mine Loop - 8.1 miles
Saguaro West - Tucson Mountain District: Sendero Esperanza Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||8.1 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||2,988' - 2,988' (3,610' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+622' net elevation gain (+1,360' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Sendero Esperanza Trail to the Gould Mine Loop - 8.1 Miles Round-Trip
The Sendero Esperanza Trail and Gould Mine Trail join to form an 8.1 lollipop loop through the Tucson Mountain District of Saguaro National Park.
This topographically diverse route leads through a vast bajada, over the Hugh Norris ridge, down a wash and around the southern foothills.
Hikers will notice subtle ecological changes as the trail gains elevation and alternates between north and south facing slopes:
The Sendero Esperanza Trail heads south on a sandy, brush-lined path (once an old wagon road) toward the north flank of Wasson Peak.
Though saguaros are relatively sparse in this north-facing bajada, diverse cholla gardens, mature ironwoods and large barrel cacti highlight the first mile. Wildlife is particularly active in washes across this area.
The trail passes Dobe Wash (.7 miles : 3,140') and continues mildly into the foothills.
At 1.2 miles it scales moderate switchbacks up the north flank of Wasson Peak with good views over the bajada through which you've just risen.
The trail crests on a narrow ridge at the Hugh Norris Trail junction (1.75 miles : 3,610'), the route's highest point. Note the diversity of grasses and brush in this transition from Desert Scrub to Desert Grassland.
From the Hugh Norris junction, the Sendero Esperanza Trail begins a winding, moderately steep descent down the south side of the ridge. Anticipate loose, slippery rock on this descent.
Look southeast for Brown Mountain and Golden Gate Mountain (4,288'), which are located within nearby Tucson Mountain Park.
The trail reaches the Gould Mine Trail junction (2.75 miles : 3,160'), where you'll continue left on the Sendero Esperanza to begin the Loop portion of the hike.
The trail undulates mildly past a few old mining structures and the Mam-a-gah Picnic Area to the King Canyon Trail junction (3.2 miles : 3,177').
Turn right just beyond the sign and drop into the wash (see notes below on alternative routing for this segment). This particularly wide wash is flanked by high walls and dense brush.
Deep sand and several minor drop-offs make for interesting travel on the .9 mile descent to the King Canyon - Gould Mine Trail junction.
The King Canyon Trail connects with the Gould Mine Trail at an ill-defined point in the middle of the wash, just below the King Canyon Trailhead Parking Lot (4.2 miles : 2,905').
Despite vague signage, Kinney Road and the Parking Lot are obvious landmarks for the junction and continuation of the loop (you can not travel any further in the wash).
Just before this man-made dead-end, look to the right for a faint path leading up the wash's north bank. In a few steps uphill you'll officially access the Gould Mine Trail and continue the loop.
These rocky, south-facing slopes are ideal habitat for saguaros, and you'll pass many along this stretch. The Gould Mine Trail follows a steady grade for one mile to its connection with the Sendero Esperanza Trail (5.3 miles : 3,160'). This completes the Loop portion of the hike.
The Sendero Esperanza Trail rises steeply back up the ridge's rocky, south-facing slope. Though the climb is relatively uneventful, hikers will now have a more complete understanding of the area's complex topography.
The trail reaches the ridge-top and Hugh Norris Trail junction once again at 6.4 miles, where it begins a final descent through the bajada to the Sendero Esperanza parking lot (8.1 miles).
- N32 17.069 W111 10.029 — Sendero Esperanza Trailhead
- Petroglyphs can be found in the wash near the Sendero Esperanza-King Canyon Trail junction. Ask a Park Ranger about their locations.
- The Mam-a-Gah picnic area is named after a Tohono O'odham Indian Chief.
- Keep a safe distance from mining structures and shafts. Never enter mining shafts.
- From the Sendero Esperanza-King Canyon Trail junction, the above description follows a wash (southwest) toward the King Canyon Parking Lot. This is an unofficial alternative route that actually travels
just below the official trail, which is a less eventful fire road just above the wash (south side). The route described above is equal in length but arguably more interesting, and is therefore recommended
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 Sendero Esperanza Trailhead is located approximately 6 miles from the Red Hills Visitor Center, 1.5 miles east of the intersection of Hohokam Road and Golden Gate Road.
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 continue to the Golden Gate Road intersection. Turn right onto Golden Gate Road and continue for 1.5 miles to the marked Sendero Esperanza Trailhead on your right hand side.
Saguaro National Park: Tucson Mountain District
27 North Kinney Road
Tucson, AZ 85743