• Gabe Zimmerman Trailhead to Saguaro National Park


  • 13.9 miles

Southern Trailhead: Gabe Zimmerman Trailhead


Take I-10 east and take Exit 279 (Wentworth Road/Colossal Cave Road). Turn east (left) for 0.2 mile to Frontage Road. Turn south (right) on Frontage Road for 5.2 miles to Gabe Zimmerman Trailhead.

Northern Access Point: Saguaro National Park

  • GPS Coordinates: 32.12964° N, 110.64472° W
  • NOTE: This trailhead is not directly accessible by vehicles. The nearest vehicle access is 2.8 miles west on the Hope Camp Trail at the Loma Alta Trailhead at 32.13294° N, 110.68700° W. There is limited parking with trailer parking 0.25 miles south.


Hope Camp: No vehicle access – 3 miles required to reach the Hope Camp TH. On Old Spanish Trail, travel approximately 7 miles southeast of the Saguaro National Park Visitor Center, or go 4 miles northwest of Colossal Cave Mountain Park on Old Spanish Trail, then turn north on Camino Loma Alta Road. Go about 2.5 miles until it ends at a small trailhead/parking area. Travel 3 miles east on Hope Camp Trail to historic Hope Camp.

Trail Route Description

From the Davidson Canyon-Gabe Zimmerman trailhead the trail drops down into Davidson Canyon, joins Cienega Creek, goes under the train trestle, and then climbs out of the canyon on the north side. After joining a two-track, the route turns sharply back to the southwest and then crosses Marsh Station Road. From here the trail heads west and then north across several drainages. It crosses a pipeline road and then goes under some powerlines. From here it climbs up to a saddle and a view of the La Posta Quemada ranch and the south end of Colossal Cave Mountain Park. The trail switchbacks down and then around the ranch to the east. It enters the park and parallels Posta Quemada Canyon past the campground and up to a park road. After crossing the road, it parallels it and then comes to the La Selvilla picnic area. From here it runs north-northwest up to Pistol Hill Road, crosses this road and then the X-9 Ranch Road, and continues up through the Rincon Valley. After passing through a gate the trail crosses Rincon Creek and then reaches a kiosk at the boundary of Saguaro National Park.


  • Easy to Moderate



Water can usually be found at Colossal Cave Mountain Park in El Bosquecito Campground and the La Selvilla Picnic Area, and at La Posta Quemada Ranch. There is water in Cienega Creek and seasonal water Rincon Creek. Check the online Arizona Trail Water Report for current information at https://aztrail.org/explore/water-sources/.


  • All water along this passage should be purified prior to use.
  • A permit is required to enter Cienega Creek Natural Preserve. Please stay on the Arizona Trail route through this sensitive riparian area. If you remain on the trail, a permit is not required. Click here for more information.
  • Colossal Cave Mountain Park has a fee and you must stay in the designated campgrounds of La Selvilla or El Bosquecito.
  • A tour through Colossal Cave is an interesting side trip on this passage. There is a fee for the guided tours.
  • Mountain bikes are prohibited in the Rincon Mountain Wilderness at the very northern end of this passage.


  • Map of Passage 8
  • USGS Topographic Maps: Vail, Rincon Peak and Tanque Verde Peak
  • Saguaro National Park map.
  • BLM Information Center maps.

For more information

Current Passage Info

ARIZONA TRAIL: This epic trail, from Mexico to Utah, is right in your backyard

Vail Style Magazine (February 2021) by Kevin Boerup As darkness fell on the high, lonely desert at Cienega Creek one summer night in 1887, a Southern Pacific passenger train suddenly slammed on its brakes. Gunfire pierced the night and the Doc Smart Gang stepped out of the darkness. After robbing the train, a sheriff's posse was soon formed, and the gang's trail led to a cave in the foothills in the Rincon Mountains that they had been using as a hideout. The gang escaped to El Paso while the search for them continued. Today, the cave system where the gang had taken refuge is known as Colossal Cave, and the Arizona Trail passes right by it. It may not have been called the Arizona Trail back in the late 1880s, but that is only because the idea of a scenic, sustainable, non-motorized recreation trail from Mexico to Utah had not been dreamed of yet. To read the rest of the article, click here.
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