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    Brown Mountain Trail

    This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
    This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
    This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
    7.6 km
    This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
    201 m
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    Directions to Trailhead

    The hike along the Brown Mountain Trail from the Brown Mountain Picnic Area is an awesome trip that delivers great views without being too difficult. This route begins from the picnic area within Saguaro National Park West, known for its dense covering of saguaros. This route also features cholla and several different kinds of cactus. The route travels over Brown Mountain from end to end and completes a loop by returning along the northern side of the mountain.

    This route is a bit rocky and has some steep parts, but overall we consider it suitable for most skill levels and ages. As with all hikes in this area, bring plenty of water and get your hike in before the heat of the day hits.

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    Route Description for Brown Mountain Trail

    The Brown Mountain Trail leads you up one side of Brown Mountain and down the other for an excellent view of the sea of saguaros that surround you in Saguaro National Park West. Since this route starts from the Brown Mountain Picnic Area, it’s ideal to tag onto a picnic if you’re spending a few hours in the park.

    This route takes a loop approach to the hike. Most users prefer going clockwise as it’s a bit easier on the knees, but you can certainly do it either way. Hey, do it both ways and let us know which you prefer.

    While this hike isn’t too long or strenuous, it is still steep in parts and quite rocky. You’ll want to bring poles if you have them and small children may not be able to complete the entire route. If you find the ascent to be too much, turning around on the top of the mountain and hiking this trail as an out and back is a good compromise.

    There are jumping cholla on this route, so closed-toed shoes are definitely recommended. Bring lots of water and wear sun protection.

    From the trailhead in the picnic area, go to where the trail splits. To go clockwise, turn left and take Brown Mountain Trail to the junction with Cougar Mountain Trail. Stay right here to approach the base of the ridge.

    A set of switchbacks leads you through the ascent. It doesn’t last too long, so soon you’ll be atop the mountain, traversing across the ridge. The views of the mountain ranges beyond are excellent and it’s truly jaw-dropping how many saguaros you can see in this wide view.

    Continue across the entire ridge, following the trail where it takes two quick switchbacks to drop elevation before crossing a saddle and then dropping down off the mountain. The Arizona Sonora Desert Museum is ahead.

    Turn east and begin the trip back to the trailhead, hiking between Brown Mountain and the road. It’s straightforward all the way back to the picnic area.

    Hiking Route Highlights

    Saguaro National Park West

    The two sides of Saguaro National Forest–East and West–encompass two patches of beautiful desert scenery on the eastern and western sides of the city of Tucson. The parks may be small, but they don’t lack when it comes to scenery. Saguaro National Park West is lower in elevation with a denser saguaro forest, and Saguaro National Park East is more mountainous and offers the opportunity to backpack if desired. Bobcat Ridge shows off the west park in its cactus-covered glory.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Is Brown Mountain Trail kid-friendly?

    Active children should be able to complete this trail. It has some steep sections but they don’t last too long.

    Are dogs allowed on Brown Mountain Trail?

    No, dogs are not allowed on this trail.

    Insider Hints for Brown Mountain Trail

    • Swing by the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum afterwards if you’re curious to know more about the desert around you.

    Getting to the Brown Mountain Trail Trailhead

    The trailhead for Brown Mountain Trail is off the Brown Mountain Picnic Area access road.

    Route Information

    • Backcountry Campground


    • When to do


    • Pets allowed


    • Family friendly


    • Route Signage


    • Crowd Levels


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    Brown Mountain Trail Elevation Graph

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