Douglas Spring Trail to Douglas Spring Campground, Saguaro East - Rincon Mountain District: Douglas Spring Trailhead, Saguaro National Park, Arizona

Douglas Spring Trail to Douglas Spring Campground - 12.1 miles

Saguaro East - Rincon Mountain District: Douglas Spring Trailhead

The Douglas Spring Trail rises above the Cactus Forest into Desert Grassland and Chaparral

The Douglas Spring Trail rises above the Cactus Forest into Desert Grassland and Chaparral

Round-Trip Length: 12.1 miles
Start-End Elevation: 2,870' - 4,800'
Elevation Change: +1,930' net elevation gain
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Douglas Spring Trail to Douglas Spring Campground - 12.1 Miles Round-Trip

The Douglas Spring Campground is located 6.05 miles from the Douglas Spring Trailhead in Saguaro National Park. The Douglas Spring Campground lies in a shady, brushy plateau fed by seasonal springs.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

Hikers will transition through 4 biotic zones (Desert Scrub, Desert Grassland, Chaparral and Oak-Woodland) en route to this popular campground and spring:

The Douglas Spring Trail heads east through a high concentration of saguaro, barrel cactus, prickly pear, ocotillo and various cholla. The terrain is a combination of sandy wash and hard-pack dirt up to the Wentworth Trail split (.6 miles), past which it steepens into the rocky foothills of the Rincon.

The trail tilts sharply up to the Carrillo Trail split (1.1 miles : 3,120'), where it crosses then parallels a stone-slab wash up to the Three Tank Trail split (2.3 miles : 3,695').

Here grades moderate in a more isolated setting as tall saguaro stands yield to open hillsides, creosote, scrub oak and mesquite. You'll reach the Bridal Wreath Falls spur at 2.5 miles (3,740'), an easy .6 mile roundtrip excursion. Seasonal flows account for abundant vegetation in this vicinity.

Grades steepen shortly past the falls spur deeper into the mountains; note the prevalence of manzanita as you progress in this more intense landscape.

Though rugged and undulating, there is only a modest net elevation gain on the final 2+ miles to the Douglas Spring Campground (6.05 miles : 4,800'). The trail continues another 2.4 miles to Cow Saddle and the Tanque Verde Ridge Trail.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N32 14.120 W110 41.220 — 0.0 Miles: Douglas Spring Trailhead

Worth Noting

  • The Douglas Spring Trailhead is a popular destination wth limited parking. Arrive early to secure space and avoid crowds.
  • Be mindful of delicate vegetation and varied terrain; missteps and stumbles can be harmful to both plant and human. Rattlesnakes and scorpions inhabit this area. Remain on designated trails at all times, and never place your hands or feet where you can't see them.
  • The Douglas Spring Trail is fully exposed to sun and heat. Ample water and sun protection are essential on this longer hike into the backcountry.
  • Look for quail, roadrunner, javelina and jackrabbits at lower elevations. Higher elevations on the Douglas Spring Trail are home to deer, bobcat, mountain lion and even bear.

Camping and Backpacking Information

  • A permit is required for all overnight backcountry stays in Saguaro National Park. There is a $6 fee per campsite per night.
  • There are 3 individual campsites at Douglas Spring. The maximum number of people allowed per site is 6. The maximum size of any one group is 18.
  • There are no guaranteed water sources in the area. Backpackers should plan to carry all of their own.
  • All water sources in the Saguaro Wilderness are intermittent streams or springs. In dry seasons, water is often unavailable. Do not rely on finding water at campsites. If you're exiting on the same trail you entered, consider caching water along the trail. This will ensure a source of water on your way out. Label water caches with your name and date.
  • Fires are not permitted at the Douglas Spring campsite.
  • A small population of bears inhabit the Rincon Mountains. Bear boxes are provided to secure food.

Directions to Trailhead

The Douglas Spring Trailhead begins at the end of Speedway Blvd. Travel east from Tucson to the end of Speedway Blvd. Parking is limited. Park only in designated spots.

Contact Information

Saguaro National Park Headquarters and Rincon Mountain District
3693 South Old Spanish Trail
Tucson, AZ 85730-5601

Saguaro National Park Tucson Mountain District
27 North Kinney Road
Tucson, AZ 85743

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.


"Thank you for the feedback Brian. Firstly, so glad to here things are green and water's flowing! The Sonoran is sometimes overlooked for its amazing ecological diversity (2000+ plant species) and seasonal blooms. Re: the distance, It's not uncommon to see different measurements between units and apps, though the discrepancy you point to exceeds what might be expected. This trail was mapped / written using two Garmin CSX units, and one Garmin CO unit. Raw data suggests these units were pretty much in sync, and the averages were taken to produce the data published here. Still, inflections and inaccuracies happen. We'll review records in greater detail and take your metrics into account in any necessary revision. Again, thanks for the feedback and keep enjoying the desert!"
ProTrails Admin  -   -  Date Posted: January 5, 2017
"Just did this hike today. Using the Map My Hike app, it showed a little over seven miles to get to the campsites and took me about 2.5 hours - I'm pretty close to getting three miles an hour in. The elevation gain stated is correct, about 2000 feet. I also did Bridal Wreath falls on the way down (about .5 mi. off the main trail). My total for the day was around 14.65 miles on the app. It says 12.1 RT - not so sure about that. It just rained a lot a few days ago, so it was awesome to see all the running water and the falls flowing nice. "
Brian  -  East Tucson  -  Date Posted: January 4, 2017
"Why is Tucson so anti dog? All these trails get ripped apart by horses but dogs aren't allowed? Really."
Derrick  -  Tucson  -  Date Posted: March 1, 2014
"A side note on my comment the horse issue should not keep anyone from what is one of the best hikes in the Tucson valley it won't keep me away as I plan on hiking it for my 12th time tomorrow "
Chris  -  Tucson az  -  Date Posted: February 7, 2014
"Haveing hiked this trail manny time I have to say it is generally a vary pleasant experience however the horses and their riders are a real down side especially after you have passed signs that specifically state NO STOCK as in livestock it becomes down right frustrating when you see that there is a posted stock bypass. Growing up livening and hikeing in southern az you get used to yielding to equestrians but on steeper and more narrow parts of this trail having them around gets down right dangerous!"
Chris  -  Tucson az  -  Date Posted: February 7, 2014
"Seriously! you cant stand the smell of horse? Trails...smelly... perhaps you need a new hobby the outdoors is full of ...outdoors ...stuff Get a clue bubb. Also just a note. Horses AREN'T pets! Derp derp."
jack frost  -  Tucson  -  Date Posted: May 30, 2013
"Thank you Christi - we've made the correction."
 -   -  Date Posted: January 31, 2013
"If you read the actual park rules they state no dogs, however livestock, including HORSES are allowed. In fact, horses have right off way over bikes and pedestrians. Read the rules or learn the difference between dogs and livestock please. "
Christi  -  Tucson  -  Date Posted: January 31, 2013
"Weird that it says no pets yet there are so many horses. They leave the trails smelly and abused. These signs clearly say NO PETS and there are horses! Come on people, follow the rules!"
Mike  -  Tucson, Az  -  Date Posted: March 17, 2012
"I did enjoy this trail, with the exception of all the horses and horse manure and smell that accomppanies them. At the end of your post you specified with capital letters that no dogs are allowed and you will issue citations. It seems to me that HORSE owners really could CARE LESS FOR YOUR REGULATIONS. What are the chances that while visiting from San Diego, on a random weekend, we would have to make way to more than 9 horses, yet NO DOGS. It would be nice if you would give these people violations. One lady got down right mean when we pointed out that this trail was for people only. She said they always use this trail. It's really unsettling to have to make way to huge horses, worrying wheter or not they will spook."
Lili  -  San Diego  -  Date Posted: March 15, 2012
"NO DOGS. Dogs are strictly prohibited on trail. There are three signs at the trailhead that state the prohibitions. Park Rangers will issue tickets for violations."
U.S. Park Ranger Steven Bolyard  -  Saguaro National Park Ranger Office  -  Date Posted: March 4, 2012


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