Get good exercise with a scenic backdrop on this trail west of Tucson

Craggy ridges jutting into a blue desert sky, mountain slopes cloaked in yellow palo verde trees, and saguaros sporting milky white blooms provide the scenic backdrop for a walk on the Sarasota Trail west of Tucson.

Some hikers follow the trail for a relatively short out-and-back route of a mile or two. Others might prefer a longer trek — taking in Bobcat Ridge and other sights in a loop of about four miles.

A map posted at the Sarasota Trailhead shows the route and other trails in the area.

The trail, in Tucson Mountain Park, offers up-and-down terrain in addition to some moderate stretches. It takes in views of cactus forests and small but prominent peaks including Cat Mountain.

Palo verde trees, which are passing the peak of their bloom, still provide splashes of yellow across the landscape. Saguaros, including some very tall specimens, are likely to continue blooming for some weeks, with each of their big flowers lasting just one day before wilting.

Be cautious about heat

Hiking the trail at this time of year offers the scenic benefits of the desert in bloom — but it’s important to be aware that heat and sun exposure can pose dangers.

Starting a hike very early in the morning and returning to the trailhead before the heat of the day is a prudent approach. It’s best to avoid the hike altogether in hot weather.

Even with an early start, it’s important to use sun protection — including a hat and sunscreen — and carry more water than you think you’ll need.

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