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Wild Mustang - Alamo Spring Loop, AZ

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Guide 55 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Tucson NW
3.3 of 5 by 12
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Loop 8.75 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,675 feet
Elevation Gain 1,276 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,983 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 18.67
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
22  2018-12-19
Tortolita Mountains Inner Loop
25  2018-12-17
Tortolita Mountains Super Loop
8  2017-03-28
Wild Burro/ Upper Javelina/ Wild Mustang loop
1  2016-11-20 fricknaley
1  2016-11-09 fearnestiv
9  2014-12-24
Christmas Backpacking Trip
15  2014-12-20 Jim_H
3  2013-03-09 lP14
Page 1,  2
Author fricknaley
author avatar Guides 93
Routes 383
Photos 3,724
Trips 2,743 map ( 18,146 miles )
Age 43 Male Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar → 7 AM
Seasons   Early Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  6:10am - 6:27pm
Official Route
11 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
AKA Tortolita Superloop
by fricknaley

2013 Route Modification Access is now from the Ritz.

I've been waiting for years to go hiking in the Tortolita Mountains, just north of Tucson in Oro Valley. It's a range of low 4000 foot peaks, not totally unlike the Tucson Mountains. But it's different...much larger and deeper is this range and far less well known. There are some nice, new trails in here, mostly focused along the Wild Burro Canyon on the west end the range. They are worth checking out.

The Wild Burro Trail is the gateway into the mountains, you must take this for about 1.25 miles to the trailheads for most of the other trails that exist in here. So no matter your destination, your origin will begin the Wild Burro.

Take the Wild Burro Trail out of the gravel parking lot. It immediately drops down into the wide, sandy wash. This will take you into the mouth of the canyon. The trail itself snakes along the wash, crossing over and coming back. You can take the trail or just go straight up the wash, it doesn't really matter. The wash passes through a new high-end golf course and resort being built..we'll see how they preserve or reroute this passage in the near future. As you get closer to the mouth of the canyon, the vegetation perks up and the canyon walls slowly close in. After about 1.25-1.3 miles you reach a number of signed trailheads and the fun begins.

Hang a left at the signs for the Upper Javalina and Lower Javalina trails, with the Upper Javalina being the goal for now. Soon the Lower Javalina breaks off to the right, stay left on the Upper Javalina as it climbs up and swings out west. This trail crosses over a steep descending gulley, then switchbacks up the other sidewall to gain access up the north wall of Wild Burro Canyon. This trail is very pretty with a great assortment of cacti and flora, particulary when there has been ample rainfall.

After about 1 mile or so on the Upper Javalina, there is an intersection with the Wild Mustang Trail, which breaks off to the right. This is the major route out to Alamo Springs. This winding trail dances along ridgelines and the upper bank of the north wall of Wild Burro Canyon for a total of roughly 4 miles. The views along this trail are at times phenomenal out over Tucson and up at the northern peaks of the Tortolitas. There are also sweeping views out over the southern wall of Wild Burro Canyon. The Wild Mustang crosses over some sidewashes but is always easy to follow in such circumstances. The one point of note is near the beginning of the Wild Mustang leg, there is one unsigned trail intersection. Take the right leg which clearly climbs, not the left which clearly descends. Otherwise everything is clearly marked and easy to follow. Near the end of the Wild Mustang you pass through and old rickety gate and clearly start to descend to the wash bottom. The trail dead-ends at another gate just beyond which lies Alamo Spring. This is an old settlement with the remnants of and old corral and building foundation strewn about. The Spring lies at the head of a spot where the canyon briefly narrows down and is quite pretty. Lot of greenery around the spring too.

Across the floor of the wash lies the signs for the return routes. Take a left onto the Alamo Spring trail. This climbs back up the south face of the Canyon and takes you back. This also offers great views way out into the Tortolita interior. Very nice out there. The Alamo spring trail winds it's way back along the ridgeling with multiple areas of up and down. There is one intersection near the beginning where the Alamo Spring continues to climb up and left, and a trail marked only Spur breaks right and down. Otherwise there is no issue. There are very nice saguaro and rock formations along this route. After about 3.75 miles the Alamo Spring trail starts to rapidly descend back to the Wild Burro Wash/Canyon floor to place you back after about 4 miles total along it's way. There is a sign for a right onto the Lower Javalina trail near the bottom. Ignore this and continue onto the wash bottom. Follow the Wild Burro back to your car to complete this excellent, roughly 11.75 mile loop.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2008-02-17 fricknaley
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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 of 13 deeper Triplog Reviews
Wild Mustang - Alamo Spring Loop
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Afternoon hike. Great weather and incredible views near the first peak of the surrounding Tucson ranges. You could even see the Baboquivaris off in the distance. Trail is well maintained and easy to follow with multiple signs indicating which trial you are on via color coded arrows. This is a little bit longer due to my partner and I missing the turnoff and taking the trail down via the Alamo Springs Spur Trail. Figured we'd just complete it so we went to the bottom and then came up adding about a mile to the trip with a nice little uphill gain in the middle. Some water was present in some rock pools near the drainages. Nothing substantial. There was also a small trickle of water heard on the Alamo Springs trail. Overall a great afternoon trail to get some miles in at a relaxed pace. Lots of birds. Trail was fairly quiet as we only saw about 5 people throughout the hike. First time hiking in the Tortolitas and it certainly won't be my last. This particular loop would be a great trail run.
Wild Mustang - Alamo Spring Loop
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We had planned on doing Kimball/Window via Finger Rock, but the cold temps had us looking at the last minute for something a little lower in elevation, so JJ & I introduced Mountain Rat to the Tortolita Superloop. Started just after 8, and moved through it fairly quickly. All the trails are super easy to follow with the exception of the old, unnamed trail you take on the superloop to connect the end of Cochie Canyon to the dropdown onto Wild Mustang. It was a little overgrown in spots, and involves that short, steep ascent over the ridge.

Today I was wearing leather boots, and during the our time in that particular section, the glue gave way with the sole on my right boot and I had a flopper. It came loose from the toe all the way to the arch on my right foot. Thankfully it was easily remedied with some good ole duct tape...few swipes around and it was fine the rest of the day. Once we were done with that section and was onto Wild Mustang, the left boot did the way from toe to the ball of my left foot. Little more duct tape, here we come.

This was the first time I've done the whole loop in nearly 2 years; when I was on it last, there was still trail construction going on around the Wild Burro spur and the Ridgeline, and on that particular day I needed to take a detour route. Today I re-recorded the track and will update the trip description to note the final route.

Up on the Ridgeline (my favorite section), we took in views from Mt. Wrightson, Baboquivari & Kitt Peak in the south to Four Peaks in the north, beautiful.

Was great getting to know Mountain Rat, enjoyed your company today! And as always, JJ too.
Wild Mustang - Alamo Spring Loop
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I met up with JJ and Dave at the Wild Burro TH just a bit after 8:00 and we commenced to burning up the trail. Early on, we had just enough sunshine to keep us from freezing, but well before the half way mark we had a pretty comfortable balance of sun and shade that lasted the rest of the hike. This one covers quite a lot of ground and though the elevation gain seems kind of low, you pick it up quickly in just a few spots, so it’s not easy gain. This was a tough little trot in an area that I intend to further explore.

Thanks to Dave and JJ for guiding this one. I had no track loaded, so had no clue what to do or where to go. Till next time…
Wild Mustang - Alamo Spring Loop
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Wild Burro/ Upper Javelina/ Wild Mustang Loop
Tuesday after-work special in the Tortolitas. The weather was great, just a little hot, but my unfortunate surprise for the day was the gnats! This ended up being the single worst bug hike I have ever done in Arizona, even worse than anything I have seen at the McDowell - Sonoran Preserve. I could swing my hand in front of my face and contact a good dozen+ gnats at basically any point along this hike. There is only a certain number of times that a man can forcefully eject an insect from one's nose and still consider the task at hand as enjoyable...apparently 6 is the number for this man. :D I had to stop for a few minutes to take a work call, and that would be my only break, I would have preferred to do without that one as well. The hike itself was good, managed to stay on trail this whole trip. Good elevation gain up Javelina and Mustang, took the Burro wash back to the van. Not a single other person sighted this trip. I sure hope the bugs calm down for my next trip out here...

Wildflowers are pretty much done, a little color on Catclaw Acacia and some of the cholla.
Wild Mustang - Alamo Spring Loop
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Move Across 2 Ranges
my buddy Eli wanted to do this so we signed up and decided to try and run as much as we could.

fun event with a nice turn out. weather was ideal for a big effort. felt pretty good most of the day especially so on the first leg in the tortolitas

saw a big angry mojave rattler on the sutherland. second big angry rattler of the season already :scared:
Wild Mustang - Alamo Spring Loop
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Wild Mustang-Wild Burro Loop
My first real hike in the Torts... it was the PERFECT day for it. Cloudy, rainy, cold...the first day that told us the onslaught of summer was coming to a close.

We'd originally planned on heading up the Alamo Springs trail to complete that loop, but the rain on-and-off again encouraged us to cut the hike a little shorter and bail down the big wash. It was still a rewarding day in the mountains! The Tortolitas are beautiful, reminding me very much of the foothills of the Catalinas and Rincons in terms of its rocks and vegetation... but not with all the people of the Catalinas. Worth the trip for sure - I'll be doing more of this I can promise!
Wild Mustang - Alamo Spring Loop
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First trip into the Tortolitas, good enough to make me come back some time. I started out from the Ritz with plans of doing the Wild Mustang-Alamo Springs loop, but plans got changed slightly. First off, big kudos to the Town of Marana for the color trail map with topo, not the most in depth, but a fantastic free resource. I figured I would be fine without a pre-loaded GPS track, but the map certainly came in handy. Took the trail to the Upper Javelina trail, but I managed to get off trail in the first big drainage just past the hotel overlook. There must have been a trail I didn't see (I did not look very hard), after I had pulled myself up about the third large boulder I got the feeling that this was no longer trail. I think my off-trail adventure to Panther and Safford Peaks a few weeks ago rubbed off, rather than climb back down the drainage to find the trail, I forged on with the hopes of doing a cross-country to refind the trail higher up. I managed to do exactly that, after going through the drainage to the north and east a bit I did find the Wild Mustang trail again! My 'shortcut' might have saved a quarter mile, but it took quite a while to negotiate, with a few obligatory blood donations along the way. It was mostly bouldering, with a few spots I had to pull myself up through. Now back on trail, I picked up some speed and made it back to the intersection with the Wild Burro trail. I decided to skip the Alamo Springs portion, it would have added another almost 2 miles and I was already running short on time. This will give me a good excuse to come back again...Not much wildlife out this afternoon in the heat, and I didn't see any other hikers so that was great. Great views east to the Catalinas for good parts of the trip. I liked all the big boulders out here, the terrain reminds me a bit of the eastern part of the McDowells. Woo hoo!
Wild Mustang - Alamo Spring Loop
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I went out on the Wild Mustang with a friend, late in the afternoon on a Saturday after a couple days of rain to try to catch a pretty sunset. There were very few people out on the trails. It was cold and looked like it might rain, so that might have deterred people - but I'm generally surprised that so few people seem to hike here. As I've noted before, this trail in particular has fantastic, easily accessed views in the first 1-2 miles.

Since the month since I had last been there, the area had greened TREMENDOUSLY! The little shoots I had seen were sporting tiny wildflowers. I imagine it's going to be gorgeous out here the next couple weeks.

I anticipate heavy displays in the coming weeks. Very green all over.
Wild Mustang - Alamo Spring Loop
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Did the Wild Mustang/Wild Burro loop with a little bit of extra distance heading east on a short up and back on the Wild Burro trail from the Wild Mustang/Wild Burro Junction (didn't go all the way to the corral). Saw 10 or so hikers in the first 2 miles of trail and didn't see anyone until we were near the hotel/trailhead. There are some wild flowers coming up along the trail! This is an awesome trail. Markers were out on the trail for the Move Across 2 Ranges Hiking Challenge and there was a banner at the Trailhead.
Wild Mustang - Alamo Spring Loop
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ETA: I didn't complete the hike as described. Instead of coming back on the Alamo Springs Trail, I came back on the Wild Burro, through the wash.

Though I've hiked at Dove Mt many times, I'd only hiked the Wild Mustang portion once before. I'd had a scary run-in with some javelinas. Perhaps that had clouded my memory, because I had completely forgotten how beautiful the views are from this trail. Much better than the Alamo Springs trail on the other side of the canyon ridge. If I had done this correctly, I would have hiked an hour or two later, and done the loop in revers. That way I would have had stunning sunset views at the end of the hike.

Like the last time I hiked here, I didn't encounter anyone while on Wild Mustang Trail. Unlike last time, thank goodness!, I didn't encounter any javelinas either. I was hoping to see some of the snow that had dotted all the peaks in the area the morning before, but 24 hours of pretty good sunlight hadn't left me with anything.

This trail is great, I don't know why it's not more popular. It seemed less gravely than Alamo Springs and less ups and downs. It would be good for trail running.

The recent freezes left behind a lot of dead and badly damaged flora, BUT there was tons of new growth and lots of green on the ground. I'm hoping this means good things for wildflowers.

The hike description has not been updated since the trailhead was installed at the Ritz. The new trailhead shaves about 1+ miles from the previous hike total. [Edited] According to the Dove Mountain Civic Group, the loop is now 10.2 miles. See Hike 1 here: ... 202012.pdf

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Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To Wild Burro (Ritz) Trailhead
From I-10 in north Tucson take Tangerine Road exit (#240) and head east. In about 5 miles the 1st stoplight you come to is Dove Mountain Blvd. Take left here and follow the road roughly 4 miles around the west end of the Tortolitas. Just past The Gallery is a small well-signed trailhead for Wild Burro Trail. This is on your right.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 104 mi, 1 hour 37 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 20.6 mi, 27 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 248 mi, 3 hours 43 mins
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