Ringtail Trail to Brittlebush Wash, Saguaro West - Tucson Mountain District: Ringtail Trailhead, Saguaro National Park, Arizona

Ringtail Trail to Brittlebush Wash - 5.5 miles

Saguaro West - Tucson Mountain District: Ringtail Trailhead

The Ringtail Trail is lined by thick desert scrub and dozens of succulent species

The Ringtail Trail is lined by thick desert scrub and dozens of succulent species

Round-Trip Length: 5.5 miles
Start-End Elevation: 2,389' - 2,715' (2,715' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +326' net elevation gain (+370' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Easy-Moderate
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Ringtail Trail to Brittlebush Wash - 5.5 Miles Round-Trip

The Ringtail Trailhead is located in the Tucson Mountain District of Saguaro National Park. It accesses a well-marked trail network through diversely vegetated washes, bajadas and foothills.

The Brittlebush Wash Trail follows a lightly traveled wash into the Tucson Mountain foothills with good views from high points at the terminus:

Follow the wash past the Cam-Boh Trail (.1 mile) to pick up the Ringtail Trail.

The Ringtail Trail rolls by the Mule Deer Trail (.4 miles : 2,439') to the Picture Rocks Wash Trail (1.0 miles : 2,446'). Turn right into the wash - it is the trail.

This relatively wide space is lined with mature saguaro and sprawling mesquite, ironwood and palo verde trees.

Travel slows through deep sand past the Coyote Pass Trail (1.4 miles) to the Ironwood Forest Trail junction (1.75 miles : 2,517'). Bear left in the wash onto the Picture Rocks Wash Trail.

In about 150 yards you'll reach the Picture Rocks Wash - Brittlebush Trail split (1.8 miles : 2,529'). Bear left onto the Brittlebush Trail, a much narrower wash with a slightly steeper grade.

The trail stays in the wash for about .8 miles, leaving it very briefly on 2 occasions to circumvent obstacles:

The first occurs moments beyond the Brittlebush Trail split, the second near the end of the trail where the wash narrows through a rocky notch.

This second obstacle (2.6 miles) forces you up the west bank (right side) and back down into the wash, where a sign directs you immediately back across the wash and up its east bank (left side).

The trail leaves the wash on a twisting path to the official terminus at the National Park - State Trust Land boundary. (2.75 miles : 2,715').

This elevated area at the base of the foothills offers rangy views across the bajadas, foothills, Amole Peak and Wasson Peak.

From here the trail enters State Trust Land and continues on as the Thunderbird Trail to the El Camino Del Cerro Trailhead. A permit is needed before entering State Trust Land (see contact information below). No stock is permitted on this segment.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N32 19.655 W111 07.835 — Ringtail Trailhead

Worth Noting

  • Rattlesnakes inhabit this area. Remain on designated trails, and never place your hands or feet where you can't see them.

  • Though well marked, sections of these trails can lose clarity, especially after heavy rain.

  • Regardless of intended distance, always carry extra water and full sun protection.

Camping and Backpacking Information

  • There is no camping in the Tucson Mountain District of Saguaro National Park. Backcountry camping is permitted only in Saguaro East; reservations and a free permit are required and can be obtained at the visitor center.

Directions to Trailhead

From Tucson take the Ina Road exit off I-10 and head west for a few miles on Ina Road. Turn left onto Wade Road which quickly becomes Picture Rocks Road and begins to head west through the Tucson Mountains. Shortly after the Saguaro National Park sign, you'll head downhill into a true hairpin curve and at this curve in the road there is a paved yet unmarked pull-out area to your right on the north side of the road. Park here and the trails begin just across the street on the south side of Picture Rocks Road. Because this trailhead is technically unmarked, pay close attention to the directions.

Contact Information

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

Arizona State Land Department
233 North Main Ave
Tucson 85701

Trip Reports

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