Broadway, one of Tucson’s major thoroughfares, will take you to sprawling shopping malls, bustling brew pubs, a cornucopia of cuisines — and a beckoning network of hiking trails.

Trails? On Broadway?

Yes, but here’s the thing: To reach the trails, which lie in the northwestern corner of Saguaro National Park East, you’ve got to follow Broadway far east of its bright lights-big city attractions — to a signed trailhead just short of its eastern dead end.

There, a maze of interconnected trails — more than a dozen of them — allows hikers, runners and equestrians to create their own linked and looped routes ranging from child-friendly strolls to challenging treks covering 10 or more miles.

CLASSIC DESERT TERRAIN

The landscape traversed by the trails is classic Sonoran Desert terrain with saguaros standing out as scenic centerpieces amid other cacti and desert trees.

The Rincon Mountains, often capped with snow in the months of winter, serve as backdrop and scenic skyline for hikers and horseback riders.

“Beautiful!”

“Gorgeous desert!”

“Nice trails.”

That’s a sampling of comments from hikers encountered on the trail one day recently.

Among those enjoying the sun-kissed day with temperatures in the 70s were Dennis and Gloria Ward, visitors from Alaska speaking warmly of the warmth.

TRAILS TO TRY

A map showing the network of trails is posted at the trailhead on East Broadway just west of Camino del Codorniz. You can also find a trail map at the Saguaro National Park website. Go to nps.gov/sagu and click on the maps section.

Here are some of the many possible trail routes:

  • For a short, easy excursion from the trailhead, head south on the Mica View Trail, which extends 0.7 of a mile to a picnic area.
  • A loop totaling about 3 miles — and involving only a few gentle ups and downs — follows the Shantz Trail east from the trailhead. It continues via well-signed junctions east on the Pink Hill Trail, south on the Loma Verde Trail, west on the Cholla Trail, and north on the Cactus Forest Trail back to the trailhead.
  • Trail travelers can devise numerous fairly long loops by linking several trail segments. One, totaling about 8.8 miles, takes in parts of the following trails: Cactus Forest, Mesquite, Loma Verde, Squeeze Pen, Carrillo, Freight Wagon, Creosote, Kennedy and Shantz.
A FOXY ENCOUNTER

See if you can believe this:

A fox peers down from a perch on the limb of a saguaro along one of the area’s trails, spots a hiker approaching, leaps to the ground and dashes away into the desert.

For this reporter, who was the approaching hiker one day last month, it was one of those “I swear it happened but can’t prove it” moments. No photo proof is available because the fox was out of sight before one could open a camera and squeeze off a shot.

True story?

Hey, why would anyone dream up a tale of a cactus-climbing fox?

TRAIL INFO

Getting to the trails involves merely driving east, way east, on Broadway to a signed trailhead just west of Camino del Codorniz and the dead-end of Broadway.

Be aware that pets and bicycles are prohibited on the trails.

Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at dkreutz@tucson.com or at 573-4192. On Twitter: @DouglasKreutz