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Canelo Hills West - AZT #3, AZ

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Guide 52 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Sierra Vista
3.7 of 5 by 10
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 16.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,343 feet
Elevation Gain 1,514 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,550 feet
Avg Time One Way 7 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 21.37
Backpack Yes
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19  2018-10-29
Candelerio and Kunde Peaks
13  2018-04-29 tibber
36  2018-04-28 tibber
28  2018-04-28 desertgirl
21  2017-11-25 sandyfortner
4  2017-10-21 writelots
11  2017-05-31
Arizona Trail along Road at Patagonia
20  2016-12-24
Pass Benchmark
Page 1,  2,  3,  4
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
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Preferred   Oct, Nov, Dec, Jan → 9 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:07am - 6:26pm
Official Route
5 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
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by HAZ_Hikebot

From the Canelo Pass Trailhead the trail runs generally westward as it climbs over a 5,600' saddle and drops into the upper end of Meadow Valley. It continues west through Redrock Canyon, passing Down Under Tank and the Cott Tank Environmental Exclosure, before arriving at Red Bank Well. Turning north, the trail passes close to Gate Spring, passes Red Rock Road (4-WD), and then continues through hills and oak and manzanita growth before dropping down to the trailhead on Harshaw Road (FR 58). From here the route follows Harshaw Road for about 3 miles and ends at the Post Office in Patagonia.

Southern Trailhead: Canelo Pass

Northern Trailhead: Patagonia - Hwy 82

This page is open to authors. Hike must be listed South to North as one-way. Do not include an overview as the above is permanent.

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2018-07-14 HAZ_Hikebot

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Canelo Hills West - AZT #3
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    After an eventful night in the tent for me with having to blow up my air pad four times, we had decided the previous nite to get on the trail by 6:30AM so that we could have a late breakfast in Patagonia... well actually pie and ice cream. We started hiking at 6:40AM. There's not much opportunity to warm up your legs as you have to tackle two hills, one a bit bigger than the other. But at least it was cooler to start so we made pretty good time. You have some nice views as you contour around some of the hills and go up a little and down a little. The first mile and 1/2 seemed to take longer than normal but it really wasn't.

    On this section of the single trail it did have some steep sections as far as terrain into drainages and some of the switchbacks were a bit steep as well. In fact, Shawn stopped at one to show us that everything that could be wrong with a particular switchback construction was evidenced here. We crossed over a couple really red rock areas. In the distance you could see Red Mountain too. As we neared the saddle we encountered a waterless hiker out for a stroll which is about a mile from the trailhead; the only person we would see on this 14 mile trek before the paved Harshaw Road.

    We rested at the saddle for a moment as I needed to adjust my pack. My pack rode well yesterday but I was struggling a bit today which I don't understand. From there it was down and down and down to the valley below. It was warming up again so I was glad we got started early. Some pretty area through here with the mesquite trees scattered about. We finally hit the Road and went over to check out the TH sign. It's quite nice but seems an odd place to put it rather than at the end/beginning of the single track. But maybe being in this big lot more people might see it and learn about the Arizona Trail.

    And now for the 3 1/2 mile or so pavement walk. I knew it was going to be long and it was. Fortunately it's easy walking and you can walk and gawk. It was interesting on the south side of the road that they had actually built up concrete to stop the water from slamming into the road when the Harshaw Creek is flowing good. And of course there's the tip toe across the cattle guards which is never any fun. We stopped and visited the Longhorns that were for sale.

    And alas, Tonto Jr was in sight. Now for that pie and ice cream, at least for three of us. So onto the Gathering Grounds where Shawn had strawberry peach with two scoops, Tracy had rhubarb and I had blueberry rhubarb. We girls had one scoop but decided 1 1/2 scoops would last as long as the pie. The pies were most excellent as was Ambika's breakfast croisant sandwich. The coffee is good too. It was a busy place. Then it was time to unwind the shuttle and we all actually got home at a reasonable time for a weekend backpack.

    In case anyone is wondering, the Arizona Trail Section Crew is 1/2 way done with the AZT and after this upcoming weekend we will have done more miles on the AZT than each of the last 3 years (it's hard when four people are working to get our schedules to mesh plus we can't do the high daily hiking miles so we have to break it up a bit more).

    [ youtube video ]
    Canelo Hills West - AZT #3
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    We were going to do this one last month but the nightly low would have been in the 30s, too nippy for us. So we did Passage 10 instead and now it was time to do Passage 3. We knew the temps would be a little warm in the day but by the afternoon, it was hot.

    After work on Friday we met up off the I-10 and then drove to Patagonia but not before getting caught up in waiting for a traffic accident to clear. We feel lucky they got the freeway going in about 20 minutes as the accident was on both sides of the road and involved about a dozen emergency vehicles. Next we had dinner at Teresa's Mosaic Cafe off of Grant Road. I had eaten there previously. It is a good place for Mexican food coming or going. A little over an hour later we arrived at the Stage Stop Inn; very easy check-in. It's a cute place with a nice courtyard and a restaurant.

    The next morning we were lucky that Tracy had found a place that opened at 7AM for breakfast. So glad too because the food at Gathering Grounds was unbelievably good and a hearty way to start the morning of our hike. We left Tonto Jr at the Stage Stop Inn and then drove to the southern Canelo Hills Pass TH where we got started at about 9:05. We checked out a Forest Service sign that said Red Tank Well was 9.25 miles which would be perfect for our last water source before camp. We were surprised by this as both Shawn and I thot it was more around the 7 mile mark. I was thinking we would use Gate Spring as our last water source but Shawn said it wasn't reliable. We would discover that the sign is VERY WRONG.

    We got to get our hiking legs before starting the mild 200 foot climb up a saddle. You had pretty nice views in both directions as you normally do from a saddle. We arrived there around 9:35 and there was a gate of course. However, the AZT logo was facing the wrong way so hopefully they can add another one. From there you continue westbound and get to enjoy the views to San Rafael and Meadow Valley with all their golden grass that hopefully will become green later this summer. Next POI would be Down Under Tank and like typical desert rats, we always admire a body of water for a moment or two before carrying on. There is a bit of a dam as you continue in the canyon.

    I'm thinking we had a banana break around 11:30; there wasn't much shade but we did manage to find a nice tree to sit under before going into a drainage. We were happy to come upon Silver Tank Well but not before passing by a feeding trough house we checked out and a couple mining claim sticks. The Well has a faucet so I put my head under (Wendy taught me this) and my hat and my bandanna to enjoy the coolness of that water as it was starting to get warmer now. This is a neat little area and it is posted for no camping as part of the Cott Tank Exclosure. We would see standing water in areas but not to the level I've seen in other people's photos.

    Around 12:30 we started seeing the red rock wall in the distance. It keeps your attention for awhile as you approach the wide drainage you walk across to get to the windmill and tanks and corral. We were disappointed to see not the cleanest tank but we filtered our water nonetheless. Next up would be our stop for lunch around Gate Spring; which interestingly enough is between two gates :lol: , but that didn't happen as there was no shade so we kept moving. We were lucky to find some nice shade in the canyon drainage around 1:30 for lunch. We were running low on motivation though as the temperature continued to get warmer.

    As we were hiking the drainage we came upon this one area that was washed out so we backtracked a bit and into the drainage. We decided we would take a break again. I had hoped we could get to mile eleven but the heat really started to drag me down. Shawn said let's hike until 3:15 but I put in the option of 3 and that's when we pulled over. The scenery was pretty off and on though but it was difficult to enjoy when you're so hot. I kept looking at the few clouds out there and thinking of the Beatles song: "Come together, right now, over me!"

    We found a nicer shaded area where we hung out for awhile but I was not cooling down and was still miserable so I decided we might as well keep hiking. During this time Shawn found us a flat place via the map for our nite's camp and it wasn't much further. It was indeed cooler to be hiking at this point than waiting it out. As it turns out he found the perfect spot in a large drainage under cottonwood trees.

    I was able to change into my cover-up but it still took a good couple hours before I finally cooled down. Then we had a moonlight dinner, hung out for a bit and then crawled into our tents. I got to use my new REI Quarter-Dome, Ambika called it my Coop as it says so on the tent. Even in the tent it felt a little warm and took about an hour to cool down enough to get in the sleeping bag. But then my air mattress had a slow leak so I had to get up four times to blow enough air in it to keep me off the ground. Well at least I got to hear the birds and coyotes every time, ha!

    Part 1 past Down Under Tank to Silver Tank area [ youtube video ]
    Part 2 Silver Tank, Cotts Exclosure area to past Gate Spring [ youtube video ]
    Part 3 from near lunch area to moonlit campsite and evening [ youtube video ]

    seemed to be quite a few belly flowers. Did see a patch of poppies and fairy duster. Ocotillos were blooming pretty good.
    Canelo Hills West - AZT #3
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    Another fun weekend at work on the AZT! The site was about 1.3 miles below the Harshaw TH just outside the cool little town of Patagonia. This project was part of the Arizona Trail Association's Trail Skills Institute training on trail design and re-routing. Our crew spent Saturday learning the fundamentals and flagging a small section for reroute. Sunday was spent doing the reroute itself. Friends were made. Laughs were had. A great way to experience the outdoors while gaining a whole new appreciation of the trails we love so well.
    Canelo Hills West - AZT #3
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    Azt #3 & #4
    February 20th

    We arrived at the Canelo Pass Trailhead just before midnight after setting up our shuttle vehicle at the end of passage 4. It was warm for a Feburary night in Arizona.

    We laid out our groundsheets, inflated our sleeping pads, and then crawled into our sleeping bags.

    Around 6:30AM we woke up, packed up camp, ate a quick breakfast, and then hit the trail.

    Back on the AZT!

    Today would be our long day (mileage), and tomorrow would be our climbing day.

    We meandered through the Canelo Hills, passing numerous running creeks and full water tanks. The abnormally warm temperatures for February in Arizona was melting the high country snow, filling the valleys below with water.

    We spotted 9 white tail deer along a mile stretch of trail.

    I got a chance to try out a new piece of gear, my lightweight umbrella, as the temperature and sun exposure increased. It was definitely worth the cost and the weight.

    The views of the San Rafael Valley and into Mexico were amazing. The towering Huachuca Mountains, and Santa Rita Mountains dominated the skyline on the US side. We were headed towards the Santa Ritas.

    The trail passes through the small town of Patagonia. We stopped to eat some pizza at Velvet Elvis, and to enjoy some beverages before continuing.

    We walked another another 7 miles out of town and set up camp near the Temporal Gultch Trailhead. The gentle grade of the trail through this area allowed us to easily bag a 23 mile day.

    February 21st

    We got a later start on Sunday. We weren't packed up and ready to leave camp til about 9:30 AM. We only had 15 miles to do, but there was a few thousand feet of strenuous climbing in there.

    I was excited to finally get to traverse our first sky island on the trail, the Santa Rita Mountains.

    The trail continued to follow a dirt road we started on in Patagonia. It was only 11AM, but it was already considerably warm. I was glad to have my umbrella to shade me until we could reach the higher elevations where the cool pines were.

    After a moderate climb, we reached the end of the well maintained dirt road and took a lunch break by a running spring.

    From here we climbed over 1,000 ft in a mile. We finally hit single track trail again about half a mile before topping out. We were rewarded with an abundance of shade and ponderosa pine trees.

    On the descent, when the hillside opened up, the views of Mt. Wrightson were great.

    About 5 miles before finishing, I bumped my head pretty good while squeezing through some boulders that had fallen on the trail. I was dizzy for a moment. After sitting down for a minute, I gathered myself and continued, slightly dizzy for the next few miles.

    We finished our descent back into the valley below and reached the shuttle vehicle.
    Canelo Hills West - AZT #3
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    AZT Segments #1 2 3
    The Arizona Trail segments 1, 2, and 3 was our first real backpacking trip. Just for the record...we are not speed hikers, so we completed the three segments in 4 1/2 days. The trail was in great shape. The Huachuca Mtns are spectacular. We did not encounter any illegal activities (and we did camp the first night at Bear Saddle). Unless, you want to consider the border patrol agents that we met on the crest trail the second day that were dropped off on the TOP of the mountain by a helicopter.

    Things I learned...

    Arizona is the most beautiful with hiking boots on!
    I don't care what the typographical maps's all uphill. :)
    Yes...bears do s#@t in the woods.
    Blisters really suck!
    The Arizona sun is REALLY hot. (luckily for us, it was only for half a day the whole trip.)
    And...Thunder and lightning storms are terrifying.

    I'm sure I'll learn more as I go.

    Pretty much all the water resources were great. We never had a problem with even getting close to running out of water. As a matter of fact, some very nice Angel (I'm guessing we call them that in Arizona too) left bottles of water at both the Canelo Hills #2 and Canelo Hills #3 trailheads.

    Special thanks to Ken Morrow, our transportation from Patagonia to Montezuma Pass. Ken had some backpacking experience and was able to give us some pointers. Although, he did say we looked like we knew what we were doing. I guess six months of reading triplogs and posting on forums and researching equipment really paid off.

    Very Very special thanks to Scott at the Parker Canyon Lake Marina. What a great guy! Even if it is a little off the trail, make sure you stop and say hi and get an ice cream sandwich.
    Canelo Hills West - AZT #3
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    AZT - Passages 1-2-3
    This was a great solo trek - my first big undertaking of the AZT, completing passages 1, 2, 3 and a bit of 4. Water was plentiful in springs and washes. Leaves were changing, aspens up high and sycamores and cottonwoods at mid-elevations. Temps were nearly perfect. A great time to do these 3 (and a bit more) passages. Water was not an issue - as I mentioned - and good clean water in the springs/washes was easily found on most sections of the trail. Passage 3 - Canelo Hills West - was a bit difficult to navigate due to the flooding this monsoon season. Sections of the trail are just not there anymore and illegal trails can easily be mistaken for AZT right-of-ways. All part of the glorious adventure. Passage 3 is also home to many trailside cat-claw acacia, pants or brush gaters are a must. Read on ---

    Up and over the highest peaks of the Huachucas escorted by the chortles and croaks of my friends, the ravens, following me for miles (four ravens do not a murder make; or do they?). Yellow had set into what is left of the post-fire aspen groves on the slopes between Miller and Carr Peaks. Autumn does exist here in southern Arizona. You just have to find it. The chance sighting of a twin-spotted rattlesnake and a Lewis’s Woodpecker made the afternoon more memorable. They are rare encounters here, the former a resident, the latter a visitor. The trail moves directly onto the crest past Tub Spring (yes, there is actually a bathtub) and Bear Saddle (no bears), dividing the view east and west. Then down, and down some more into Sunnyside Canyon with rusty orange Sycamores lining the wash, still running with water. I camped near the wilderness boundary, a fresh, still warm pile of bear scat nearby (hang the food high!). After a dinner of sardines and pasta, I sipped a bit of whiskey and listened to owls call across the oak groves, pleasantly reminded of why I do this sort of thing.

    On the trail the next morning I encountered the first of two border patrol agents I would come across during the journey and consequently the only two people I would see in three days. I wondered if I had tripped a sensor since he seemed to be waiting for me where the trail crossed a two-track road. “I’m coming from Mexico”, seemed like a fitting yet possibly misinterpreted remark. He failed to see the humor but wished me well, his diesel engine roaring off into the foothills. The trail follows shady Scotia Canyon, crisscrossing the flowing wash, and then intersects with FR 48 (BP encounter #2) near Parker Canyon Lake and the beginning of AZT passage 2: Canelo Hills East (Güero Canelo de Este).

    The trail literature mentions that in the future the AZT will actually pass near Parker Canyon Lake, but the current trail passes well south of the shore. A spur trail heads north to the lake but I continued on into the Cinnamon Hills, eager to explore an unfamiliar area. Resting near a big pool of clear water in Parker Canyon I studied the map. The elevation profile of the Canelos looks like an EKG. Up and down, up and down, for 17 miles. The trail is in great condition here with no real issues with navigation. I opted for the ol' map and compass over a GPS. Partially because I enjoy orienteering (which is not really necessary along this passage but.. still) and partially because I don't own a GPS. I pushed through this section of trail but enjoyed the landscape and scenery and spent the night in the Canelos, about a mile from the beginning of passage 3, up on the ridge overlooking the Huachucas and San Rafael Valley. Coyotes were active and they came a little too close for comfort that evening, no doubt interested in my food hanging high - or as high as possible - in a nearby juniper. Short stories by Ed Abbey kept me company that evening, refueling my mind for the next day.

    Passage 3 started the next morning pre-dawn as I made my way down the ridge and across Canelo Pass road. West of Canelo Pass I took my pack off and meandered along the saddle before descending into Meadow Valley. I'd seen lithic scatters along other saddles similar to these and I was sure I'd find some cultural evidence here at this point between two viewsheds. On to Meadow Valley's amber waves of ... grasslands. The trail was well marked through this area as singletrack merges with old two-tracks and back to singletracks, along a finger ridge and down into the head of Red Rock Canyon toward Down Under Tank (which was full to overflowing). The section past the exclosure area begins to get tricky as flooding has erased trail signs through the wash on the way to Red Rock Ranch. It's fairly easy to see where one needs to go however and other than a few moments of wandering I was able to find my way to the ranch and the windmill. It was near this point that a Sonoran Coralsnake crossed the trail in front of me -- a rare treat indeed. Beautiful.

    With some difficulty (re: navigation) I was able to find the trail that eventually leaves the wash of Red Rock Canyon and heads south toward the saddle and Harshaw Rd trailhead. Grateful to find the road into Patagonia I trudged the 2 miles into town, finding cold beer and good food at Velvet Elvis and a comfortable bed at Stage Stop Inn. The next morning, after coffee and a good breakfast in town I headed north on 1st Ave in Patagonia and along Temporal Rd, 7 miles to where my supportive, wonderful girlfriend picked me up at Temporal Gulch.


    Aspen near peak at high elevation (8,500ft) between Miller and Carr Peaks in the 'Chooks. Sycamore starting to change in the mid-elevation spots along riparian corridors: Sunnyside Canyon, Scotia Canyon, Parker Canyon, Red Rock Canyon. Cottonwoods just starting to turn in above mentioned mid to mid-low elevation (4,000 - 5,000) canyons.
    Canelo Hills West - AZT #3
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    Great day on the AZT. A bit humid, but more than forgiven with all of the water we were able to enjoy by way for streams and waterfalls, not to mention greenery! All good except the final 3 miles, where you have to hike alongside a paved road back into town, hopefully they can eventually find a way to reroute the end of three and beginning of four around the town and now along paved roads. So sorry to see Nick lose his SPOT, what a bummer. Hopefully we won't lose him next time we go out ...
    Canelo Hills West - AZT #3
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    i had pretty high hopes for this segment and it exceeded them. i love when that happens. we met ideal conditions in many ways (other than the humidity) that left me marveling at seemingly endless green grassy hills often covered in thousands of arizona caltrop. there was running water everywhere for a significant portion of the hike. just gorgeous country

    thanks for a great day boys :y:

    one of my favorite sections thus far
    Canelo Hills West - AZT #3
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    Seems like it's been awhile since the Mental Misfits had left the "Island of Misfits" and ventured back to the AZT...

    Green, Green, Green....Wow, and "Intermittent" means "Running". Recent rains had almost all the washes running. The sound of waterfalls was with us for the large portion of the hike. So calming, until about the 15th crossing.

    The trail is tightening up with some Catsclaw on the first bit, and overgrown (Grasses) when it gets down to the intermittent stream. The last 3 miles is a pavement walk to get back into Patagonia.

    All that being said, I really enjoyed this one

    Good to get back on the trails with the Goonies again, including HAZ Master Sloth
    Canelo Hills West - AZT #3
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    This segment exceeded my expectations. The first mile or so is somewhat painful due to low lying cats claw type bushes. Heard a rattler in the grass at 1.1mi but did not see her. Moving on this one is really cool for about ten miles. One of the guys said the movie Oklahoma was filmed in the area.

    GPSdaddy surprised us all by showing up with a route loaded into his Garmin :o
    When Denny sets his mind on a task it just better watch out I tell ya!

    Bruce wanted us to bake with a darn near crack o'noon start. It was a sauna for the most part with the recent rains. It didn't matter this one was a winner. Arizona Caltrop was kickin', painting the hills with summer poppies! The creeks were running! A huge cascade was rocking and a man made waterfall slipped this puppy into overdrive!

    Okay the creek thing got a tad annoying after countless crossings. Keeping dry just wasn't in the cards. I invented the pogoJoe hop where you keep one foot dry. Ten crossing later all the homies were doing it. It's unfortunate that wasn't captured on video.

    We pressed on further than the half way mark and found an awesome lunch spot. Huge shade trees and a light creek flow set the atmosphere. Of course I obliged offering my singing talent to further enhance the situation. Not sure about some of the objects tossed in my direction, figured it was a form of flattery.

    The six miles after lunch were a tad toasty and basically a sweat fest. Near the final furlong a group of ladies in Bruce's mid 90's age bracket rooted him on. That was pretty cool and put a smile on his face. I had a great time, thanks everyone!

    Video of the cascade cracking like thunder in the jungle

    Permit $$

    Coronado Forest
    MVUMs are rarely necessary to review unless mentioned in the description or directions
    Coronado Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs)

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    Take I-10 East out of Tucson 25 miles to the AZ 83 turn South. Take AZ 38 25 miles to Sonoita AZ and turn West on AZ 82. Take AZ 82 twelve miles to the town of Patagonia. As you enter Patagonia the High School is on the right and Harshaw Road goes to the left shortly after entering town.There is a large parking area at the trailhead that is located 2.8 mile up Harshaw road heading east out of the town of Patagonia.
    $17 3L Hydration Bladder
    help comment issue

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