register help
This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Samaniego Ridge Trail #7, AZ

63 28 0
Guide 28 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Tucson N
3.7 of 5 by 9
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Distance One Way 6.8 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,213 feet
Elevation Gain -2,143 feet
Accumulated Gain 922 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 9.87
Backpack Yes
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Will recalculate on button tap!
12  2017-10-20
Samaniego Peak
16  2017-05-08
Charouleau Gap Samaniego Ridge
24  2016-09-09
Catalina Mts Samaniego Ridge
24  2014-05-28
Samaniego Peak
11  2012-10-29
Canada del Oro Trail #4
45  2012-08-11
Samaniego Peak
22  2012-05-11
Meadow Trail #5A
10  2012-05-02
Canada Del Oro up Red Ridge (WOW)
Page 1,  2
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
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   May, Sep, Aug, Oct → 7 AM
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:08am - 6:27pm
Official Route
7 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby

Likely In-Season!

Author Full Detail Guide

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

  • sub-region related

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 of 13 deeper Triplog Reviews
Samaniego Ridge Trail #7
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Oracle Ridge/Canada del Oro Loop
I wanted to hike CDO again, but with a few changes from the Red Ridge loop we did last year. We travelled down Oracle Ridge and also started from the top of Lemmon, taking care of Aspen Draw and the road at the beginning.

Oracle Ridge was great in the cool morning weather. Catalina Camp is just as amusing a trip as I remember it being last year. There was water near the trail from the CC/RR junction all the way to the homestretch of the CDO trail. Since I finally remembered to bring a filter, we were able to refill our water a few times (I easily finished 4 liters and a big gatorade). Cooling down in the water made a big difference too.

Now for the whining: wear long pants. The trails are easy enough to follow, but my shins and knees got pretty torn up in the overgrowth - especially above 6k on CDO and in the burnt-out portions of Sutherland. That being said, CDO is gorgeous from all the recent rains and it was still worth the annoyance. There's a lot of climbing to do in the final miles of this hike, but my CO trip left my legs in good shape, so nearly all of my ranting was at the overgrown trails.
Samaniego Ridge Trail #7
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Started a little before noon down the Red Ridge Trail. We took a little detour to the Catalina Camp, which I'd never visited (I took the liberty of tinkering with the mileage and AEG; hopefully that's kosher...). The lower sections of the loop were pretty warm, but since you don't have to climb much, it wasn't too bad.

The CDO trail is terrific. If it was more easily accessible, it would be as popular as any trail in southern AZ. It must be amazing to hike this in autumn. The route finding is easy for the most part. It disappeared a few times around 3-5 miles up the canyon, but the path-of-least-resistance put us back on the trail each of those times. A couple places before the switchbacks are pretty overgrown. The final climb out of the canyon to the Samaniego Ridge trail is really fun ;)

Aspen Draw Trail at sunset (with no mountain bikers) was a great way to end this hike.

This is a tough hike for July. I brought over a gallon and a half of water and Gatorade, and that wound up being just enough. 2 gallons and/or a purification system would probably be smart in this heat.
Samaniego Ridge Trail #7
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Couldn't hike until later in the day, so we did something that started higher. We got going a little after noon. Weather was absolutely perfect. The Mount Lemmon Trail was crowded but mellowed out a bit. Holy crap the top of the Sutherland Trail has some incredible views - maybe the nicest view of the window you can get without sitting in it... The upper part of the Samaniego Ridge Trail was great as well, but the trail got messier the further down we went. The trail sticks to the the top of the ridge for the most part, so route finding isn't too bad. However...

Getting to the peak was a bit of an issue (does anyone have suggestions other than GPS and wearing multiple pairs of pants?). We bushwhacked around halfway from the spring to the summit before running into a seemingly impenetrable wall of scratchy/pointy brush. Since it was late in the day and we were sick of the sharp bushes we turned back, but on the way, we found a row of cairns. We tried to see where they pointed, but it was hard to tell, and we ended up following a flatter, more open path that headed uphill, roughly to the southwest. We ran into the same wall of brush, but we were a bit closer to the peak this time (although it's a bit steeper the further south you go). We gave up and headed back. We walked right past the trail on the way back, but it's hard to go very far off-course, since the ridge drops off pretty quick to the east of the trail. We found it less than a minute after we realized we had gone too far.

I ended up not caring too much that I missed the summit, because the return hike is pretty tough - in my opinion, as taxing as some of the big 4000-plus-ft of gain hikes around Tucson. The views are certainly worth it though...
Samaniego Ridge Trail #7
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
Warning, delayed posting

I spent the night in Spencer canyon, sleeping in a bit the next morning. By 7:30, I was on the trail with temps in the mid 50s and spotty clouds. I've wanted to do this one for several years, but could not justify 4 hours of driving for 6 hours of hiking. This week I would spent a couple of nights on the mountain, so this was the op.

I started off at a blazing pace, but with a tweak in the back, so the plan was to average about 1.5 mph with a decent break/s. On my way down the Mt Lemmon #5, I ran into turkey :0 At least 4, at most 7. They had no fear of me at all. From there on to Shovel Spring all I saw were Abert's squirrels and, oddly, I think, I saw some gold fish in one of the springs on the #5 (NO ALCOHOL INVOLVED!!!). I got to Shovel Spring( which I found NO trace of ) and encountered 3ish whitetailed deer. I heard a lot of them, but only saw 3 tails.

As I reached Walnut Spring, my back was feeling fine and I just had to scuffle the 1/2 mile to the peak :) Somebody put great effort into carving a path to the peak, though it's starting to be reclaimed. Though I managed to loose most of my tracks for the day, I was able to salvage the segment from the peak back down to Walnut Spring. It's posted, and would be quite helpful if you plan to hit the summit.

I located the register ( a 3" ABS tube with dry fitted ends), but upon opening it was taken breathless by a thriving mold inside. I left it to aire out whilst taking in the views, but upon later inspection decided to have no further contact with is decaying contents.

With peak in bag, I headed back. Usually, this is where I start the cruise home ( yea, usually down hill not up ), but it was getting hotter and I was gaining a bunch of elevation. Within the first mile of my return, my back was barkin' so bad that I dumped my last liter of water, cached my basic survival stuff and bino's ( 3 or 4 lbs means A LOT right now), put my head down and trudged on. The GeePuS died just where the 5 and the 5A meet, from there, I think I slept the remaining stretch to the parking lot. Reaching the 'Exploder', I now had access to water, gatorade, back brace, etc...

Now the adventure is done. I have a nice little cocktail lounge, kitchen, DVD player ( Trailer Park Boys, season 5 tonight) and a 7' x 9', nylon bedroom all to myself. SUCCESS!..
Samaniego Ridge Trail #7
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Started the AM observing the Hummingbird Banding/Monitoring session that was going on at the Mount Lemmon Observatory ( - highly recommended, to see the Hummingbirds up close - and maybe even hold one in your hand - is awesome!

After that we got started - Mount Lemmon Trail/Sutherland/Samaniego Ridge/CDO Shortcut/Samaniego Ridge/Walnut Spring. The Samaniego Ridge trail out to Walnut Spring was mostly easy to follow (only one spot where we stopped and had to search) - it winds in and out of older growth and areas regrowing from the Aspen fire - there are a couple of spots with great views!

Walnut Spring was an unexpected pleasure - a small bit of flow, green grass and trees to provide shade - a nearly mandatory break. After Walnut Spring we started to the peak - we just tried to keep picking the easiest path but by 2/3rds of the way up it turned out our path was less than ideal, we resorted to crawling on hands and knees at one point... But we made it! Great views - nice location. We found a better way down (not great, just better) and made our way back without incident (picking up the small section of the Samaniego Ridge Trail we bypassed on the way out and adding the Meadow Trail for fun).

Hummingbird Banding Pictures

Hike Pictures
Samaniego Ridge Trail #7
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Meadow/Mount Lemmon/Sutherland/Samaniego/CDO Shortcut to the main attraction of the day the Canada del Oro Trail - a new one for both me and my friend/hiking partner Lance! From the triplogs and description here and Sirena's blog post on the area - ... oro-trail/ - we suspected it would be pretty interesting, but in person it was truly spectacular - miles of running water, great birds, bear scat, big trees, ferns, lovely trail, interesting views of the ridges above... It does not seem like this trail gets too much use but there is usually a clear path, rarely overgrown at all, and cairns. We hiked out via FR 736 and saw 6-7 different vehicles along the road (it was Saturday) - the road provides some nice views as well although as we approached Saddlebrook and crossed the Canada del Oro for the last time we were ready to be out of the heat! Great Hike!! Pictures: ... 533766318/
Samaniego Ridge Trail #7
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Canada del Oro/Samaniego Ridge
Dave is the man for setting this up!

After a super fun ride out to the CDO trailhead by a couple of very nice gentlemen we set sail to hike 2 of the elusive few trails left for me in the Catalinas. As soon as we hit the trail we got clucked at by a turkey though we never saw it. The hike up CDO was way more pleasant than I thought it would be. There was nice water running nearly the whole way and some areas of fantastic oak forest. was sucking wind by the top.

we hiked samaniego up to it's junction with sutherland so that we could hike the entirety of samaniego ridge down. This trail was great as well and exactly as i thought it would be, except the views were even better. at times they were jaw dropping, for me at least, as i have a special fondness for the wilder backside trails.

overall the trails were in way better shape than i would have ever imagined for backside trails. must have been some serious work put in to both and i hope hope hope they stay this way :pray:

saw more deer than i could count. 2 rattlers and heard but didn't see a gobbler

was sick going in to this one and a little worried about how i'd do. did fine on the hike though slower than normal on the ascent. paid the price when i got home though as the chills, cough and fever said "my turn"..oh well i'd do it again in a heartbeat

thanks again Dave for setting this up :worthy:
Samaniego Ridge Trail #7
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Wanted to take these 2 trails off my list for quite a while now...they didn't disappoint! Rugged and beautiful.

Had a friend who had a Rhino (and a friend of his with a new CanAm) ride Nick and I up the Gap Road all the way to the CDO Trailhead, a little of 9 miles. We took off from there on foot. As we reached this trailhead, we heard a wild turkey in the bushes but never could get an eye on him.

The first quarter mile of the CDO was a little sketchy there, had trouble finding it. Eventually we picked up on pretty good trail. A couple of spots that were a little sketchy but by and large much better than I expected the CDO to be in. Only a small part of it showed burn damage. Water in the CDO was still running fairly well.

The last mile or so of the CDO got a bit more steep, and we were feeling it. We took the CDO Shortcut Trail over to the Samaniego and hiked it all the way to the Sutherland Trail junction, then turned back toward Samaniego Peak. Made it the Samaniego Peak and tried to do the offtrail bushwhack to the peak, but it was covered in really nasty, thorny, knee-high bushes, and we saw the bushwhack time was going to take longer than we had time for, so we gave up on that effort.

We took the Samaniego Trail all the way to the Charouleau Gap. It was a little rougher trail in spots than I figured, a little hard to follow in a few spots but comparable mostly to the CDO. There was one spot where we were surprised to see cables attached to the side of the rock to hold onto since the trail was eroded and had a steep drop. We then hiked the Charouleau Gap road the 6+ miles out to the trailhead.

We saw several deer all day, mule deer and whitetails. We also saw a couple of small rattlesnakes on the Charouleau Gap road.
Samaniego Ridge Trail #7
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Solo backpack to see some fall colors and summit Samaniego. I stayed near Walnut Spring- love the views from the rocks nearby! I'm still in boating shape, not backpacking shape and I was definitely feeling my pack. The sunset was amazing and I spent a bunch of time writing in my journal.

The next morning, I set out to summit Samaniego. At first I was following pink flagging tape, but I eventually lost it and set out on my own. My route was pretty brushy in parts, but I got to see a gigantic Madrone tree growing right out of the side of the summit. The summit block is tiny, but the views are spectacular and totally worth it. This part of the mountain is so beautiful, with giant granite boulders and cliffs. I had an easier time getting down from the peak to the trail, but still cut my legs a bunch on the evil ceanothus bushes.

I had lunch, filled up my water from the spring, and headed toward the Corkscrew of Death (CSOD). Always a good time. I slip-slided down the hill and across to the rocky climb. Someone has installed a handline up the rock face.

After the CSOD, I ambled along the ridgeline past the Mule Ears and steeply up 7091. Took a break at the top of 7091 and looked at the amount of mileage vs. the amount of daylight and realized that I'd probably be walking Charoleau Gap road in the dark. After my break, I picked up the pace. I was practically running as I hiked north.

The trail wound through the grasslands for a lot longer than I had remembered before starting the drop to Charoleau Gap. I was wearing my old boots instead of trailrunners because of grass seeds this trip and they were starting to really bother my feet.

Finally, I reached the Gap at 4:30. No time to take a break, though. I still had six miles out on rough Charoleau Gap Rd. The surface is less than ideal- granite covered with small pebbles, kind of like walking on ball bearings. I find it's easier to run down. My feet were not happy and it felt like someone was hitting my baby toes with a hammer. There were fantastic views of the ridgeline and a beautiful sunset. I didn't have to walk too long in the dark before I reached Mr. Sirena waiting for me at the trailhead.
Samaniego Ridge Trail #7
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
8) So nice to cool off and get out of the Valley of the Sun. Had a great time on this one with Sguffey. Enjoyed exploring a new area for me and a nice challenging hike. On the way down I enjoyed the ups and downs but not so much on the way back. Huge amount of variety on this one and noted the first evidence of tree rain I have encountered in AZ. You know where the clouds roll through and the trees capture the moisture from the air the a subsequent wind blow the drops off the tree creating a wet circle on the ground of the windward side of the tree. I had witnessed this in some wetter coastal areas but never in AZ. Also in the Walnut Spring area I encountered the most deer activity I have ever found. More deer acitivity here than Elk activity on Elk Point off of Volunteer/Sycamore canyons. Also the fall colors were quite nice :FG:

So many great backpacking camping spots this trail would make for a great loop out to mule ears and around to Catalina Camp and back up Red Ridge. (Yeah I think I will do that one next time) Btw I got lucky getting to the Peak only had crash through one scrub oak & nasty thorny bush barrier about 15' deep was able to find a couple of deer trails which got me close to the peak and rock scrambled the rest of the way.

Best part was finding Sawmill Restaurant Open in Summerhaven after finishing a very chilly climb as dark arrived. Car Temp guage read 38* on top. 8)

Permit $$
Visit this link for full details.

There are four specific day use areas that require a Coronado Recreational Pass or a National Pass/America the Beautiful Pass.
1) Sabino Canyon - located on the Santa Catalina Ranger District (520)749-8700
2) Madera Canyon - located on the Nogales Ranger District (520)281-2296
3) Cave Creek - located on the Douglas Ranger District (520)364-3468
4) Mt. Lemmon at 11 day use sites.

Catalina State Park $6 per day. Sabino Canyon Tram is $10 extra.

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
$17 3L Hydration Bladder
help comment issue

end of page marker