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

Walker Canyon Trail, AZ

10 10 0
Guide 10 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Tucson S
2.7 of 5 by 3
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 15 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,400 feet
Elevation Gain 2,000 feet
Avg Time One Way 6-7 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 21.67
Backpack Yes
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
15  2015-09-12
Wrightson via Temporal to Walker Basin
15  2014-11-15
Temporal Gulch - AZT #4
65  2014-03-21
AZT Passages 4-5
12  2013-10-28
AZT #4 Temporal Canyon to Walker Basin
5  2012-11-21
Temporal Gulch - AZT #4
14  2012-06-07
Temporal Gulch - AZT #4
14  2011-03-12
Temporal Gulch - AZT #4
10  2008-03-03 BrettVet
Author BrettVet
author avatar Guides 15
Routes 40
Photos 335
Trips 48 map ( 525 miles )
Age 69 Male Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   Sep, Oct, Jan, Mar → 9 AM
Seasons   ALL
Sun  6:08am - 6:27pm
Official Route
6 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Up and over
by BrettVet

Likely In-Season!
This is part of the Arizona Trail that passes over the eastern slops of the Santa Rita Mountains and touches the corner of the Mount Wrightson Wilderness area. The AZT actually goes through the town of Patagonia and up first ave. next to the high school. First Ave. turns into Forrest Service Rd 72 and gets you to the official trailhead and large parking area 6 miles up the road. We parked hear and headed up Temporal Canyon along a 4x4 road that anyone with some guts and a 4x4 could navigate without too much of a problem. I, however, would have to leave my wife at home. Temporal Gulch starts with savannah grasslands and gains some elevation into scrub oak ecosystem. This area is littered with old mines that were active during the late 1800's when there was a gold rush in this area. Mostly rush and not much gold.

After about 4 miles the Temporal Canyon trial takes off to the left and the Walker Canyon trail Continues uphill for about a thousand foot climb over the hill and down into Walker Canyon. The 4x4 road gets narrower and scarier after the temporal gulch trailhead and ends at Upper Walker tank that is really a cement dam across the creek. It is a pretty reliable source of water. The Walker Canyon Trail officially begins hear and you cross into Mount Wrightson Wilderness.

The trail is well marked with plastic trail markers and immediately after crossing the creek in front of the dam it heads off to the right and switchbacks trough the oaks and ponderosa pines. The southern exposure keeps the snow off the trail as it continues to climb another thousand feet. Josephine peak is to the west and make sure to turn around because you can see the Huachuca's and well into Mexico. Just when your quads are about to give out the trail flattens out and you have crested the highest part of the trail. A fence and a sign that says trial closed marks the end of the Walker Basin Trail. The trail actually goes for another two miles to the Gardner Canyon trail, but the forest service closed it after a fire a few years ago.(Not that I would ever disobey a Forest Servic Sign) If you would choose to navigate the trail you might find that it was navigable but overgrown with lots of down trees and some severe erosion that requires boulder hopping to cross. It parallels the slope and ends at the Gardner Canyon Trail. The Arizona Trail goes north down the Chinaman Trail to Tunnel Springs and Gardner Canyon.

We choose to make a right and descend the Chinaman to tunnel springs and then on to Gardner canyon continuing our adventure and following this section of the AZT. It is on the northern slope and had 3 to 6 inches of snow.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2008-03-03 BrettVet

    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
    Walker Canyon Trail
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Chinaman Trail Loop
    Temperature when I started out from Tunnel Springs was in the low 50's and overcast. With the wind I really needed a long sleeve shirt and pants. My Whippet wore his jacket on the whole trip. There were a few intermittent sprinkles but nothing that required my rain shell. I finished the hike to Bear Springs fairly quickly so I decided to continue on and make a loop of it.

    The hike to Bear Springs along the Chinaman Trail #137 was easy. There is no reason for rest breaks on this trail. Since the trail is part of the Arizona National Trail, it is well maintained. The net elevation gain is very slight, maybe a 100 feet. Bear Springs is well marked. It is about 100 yards after you start uphill, just after a stream crossing.

    The extension to the Chinaman trail from Bear Springs to Walker Canyon Trail Junction took some effort but not too much. The elevation gain was 800 - 900 feet over a mile and a half. Once again, trail conditions were excellent.

    The Walker Canyon Trail conditions are not so good but still very passable. This is not surprising since I heard it is "closed" since the forest fire came through years ago. Some helpful folks put some trail markers (piled rocks) in some spots. You shouldn't have any problems finding your way. There are some downed trees across the trail and those dammed thorn bushes make life rough on people with short pants. The pines are recovering; in time they will shade the thorn bushes out. The erosion is not bad at all. Parts of this trail are made up of loose rock which is hard on my feet. It is a 500 feet gain of elevation over 2.3 miles.

    From there it's all downhill. This portion of the Gardner Canyon #143 trail continues to be rocky. It has a few trees but is definitely a maintained trail. Once you leave the wilderness area, you hit the old trail head which is a fence gate. From there you walk down an overgrowing road which has been closed for quite a while until you hit the new trail head. From there it is a 1 mile walk down FR 785 to Tunnel Springs.

    It was a nice trip. I did see signs of bear, coyote, and bobcat. Remember I'm 60 and overweight. If I can do this hike, so can you.

    Oh one more thing. Ignore the description on the Coronado Forest sight. It was written before the Arizona Trail and consequently has you scrambling across country. ](*,)
    Walker Canyon Trail
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    Wrightson via Temporal to Walker Basin
    Prison Stories, Goat Stories, Dead Cows, Poop, Wild Flowers, Surprise Guests, White Men in White Face.... this hike had it all.

    Belinda posted a Wrightson loop, climbing from the east. I'd never done it from the east. Chums and
    Joe Joe were a go, so we met up with the Chummobile at 4am for the drive to meet up w/ the Tucson crew at 6am.

    Into Patagonia and then the drive on AZT #4 to our TH. Other than the stinky dead cow we had to drive OVER, the drive was uneventful.

    Temporal Gulch Trail #595 Was a bit thin in spots and is a steady climb to Josephine Saddle. The views just kept getting better. We made a stop at McBeth Spring to sample the agua.

    At the Old Baldy Trail #372 we saw the first of the masses coming up and down from the Summit. Ran into and SkyIslandHiker on his way down from his 300th? summit.

    We enjoyed a break and lunch at the top with our surprise guest Randy. The first time I did Wrightson, it was in a group w/ Randy the speed demon. Great seeing him again.

    It's all downhill from here Gardner Canyon #143, to Walker Basin #136. The views are easier to enjoy going downhill not staring at you feet. We all took an extended break while Joel read the newspaper.

    The hill dropping into Upper Walker Tank was brutally rocky/steep.. we should have taken the AZT reroute instead of "The Road"

    Thanks for settin' this one up Belinda! Good to finally meet you, Joel, Mark and Mike...

    Hard to believe that the Cow smelled worse on the way out.. :o
    Walker Canyon Trail
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    AZT Passages 4-5
    It was my hope from the very beginning that I’d be able to share a bit of the glory and adventure of Sirena’s through hike on the AZT. The fact that I am insanely envious barely plays into it at all (wink). So, when my schedule shifted about a bit and opened up an opportunity for me to not only join her for Passage 4 but to take her family camping afterwards in my travel trailer, King Gilbert, I was ecstatic! An overnight on the AZT…with my celebrity friend…just the two of us and the foothills of the Santa Rita mountains on one of the most beautiful weekends of the year? Oh yeah. I’m in!

    Passage 4 of the AZT follows the Temporal Canyon Road in Patagonia for the first 13 miles. For most through-hikers, road walks are similar to unwanted chores: often necessary, rarely enjoyed. Sirena had taken care of the first 7 miles of the road walk the day before to speed things up, so we had only about 6 miles to go before we truly got off into the wilds. Luckily, even road walking in this area can be scenic and rewarding. Winding through the oak forests and over the pools of Temporal Gulch wasn’t such a horrible chore at all – and the terrain offered enough distraction to keep us contented as we hoofed along.

    Throughout our walk on the road, we were amazed at the amount of water that we were finding. The spring boxes were full, and there was often a slow trickle in the bottom of the canyon. Although it has been an unusually dry (and warm) winter and early spring in southern Arizona, it seems that a few well-timed storms have really helped out these riparian areas. It’s unlikely that the pools will remain long without more moisture coming from the sky and soon – but it was a real treat to know that we would not have to worry about running dry on this particular piece of trail.

    Once we turned off onto the Walker Basin trail and got back to our preferred single-track hiking, the mountains rewarded us with even better vistas and diversity. Mt. Wrightson, the highest mountain in the Santa Rita range, is topped by Baldy Peak at 9,453 ft. This barren, granite summit presides over the entire range like a patriarch, and it’s steep wooded flanks have always called to those seeking solitude and adventure. Both Sirena and I have visited the summit on multiple occasions – but somehow it’s even more impressive to see the mountain this way – wandering about at it’s base staring up. Although the Arizona Trail does not climb to the top of this range as it does with the Rincons and the Santa Ritas further north, it does provide hikers with an intimate experience with Wrightson just the same.

    16 miles into Passage 4 (9 for us today), we arrived at Bear Spring. Our initial plans were to camp near the spring, as Sirena had often wanted to but schedule often didn’t permit. The spring is a beautiful spot – cold, clear water from the tank and a sycamore-studded stream babbling just down the hill in Big Casa Blanca Canyon. There were some ideal tent sites near the creek, and plenty of trees for my hammock. We took our hiking shoes off and dunked our feet in the icy creek, filtered and drank our fill of the delicious water and considered our options. It was still early in the day, with hours until sunset, and our feet now felt refreshed and ready to go again. We decided that while the spring was an ideal spot, we’d take our chances on the trail ahead and keep moving just a little while longer. Besides - we knew there was a group of high-school students hiking the opposite direction who were supposed to be staying at Bear Spring as well that night, and we really didn't want to be all settled in when they crashed (if they were coming).

    Luckily, we found them just a few hundred yards down the trail, camped in a large spot beside the creek. Now we knew where they were, we could camp in confidence that we'd not be disturbed by "eager young minds" that night.

    Beginning at Bear Spring, the trail follows a historic drainage feature called a “flume”. This ditch was dug into the mountainside in the early 1900′s as a part of an effort to provide water to a gold mining operation in nearby Kentucky Gulch. Water from Bear Spring was diverted into the flume and ran in the ditch for 2 1/2 nearly level miles to the next improvement at Tunnel Spring. Because of this historic engineering effort, the trail feels almost dead-flat, and contours high above the steep floor of Big Casa Blanca canyon. At one point, Sirena began telling me, it’s supposed to duck through a hole in the rock – but she missed the spot back in 2008 by accidentally taking the bypass built for equestrian use. She was just finishing the story when we came around a corner and found the “hole-in-the-wall” – a small tunnel through the conglomerate rock that makes up the canyon walls. Her excitement made passing up the Bear Spring camp 100% worthwhile!

    As the sun got lower in the sky, we began to look for a spot to camp. Since the trail is carved into the mountainside, we started to scan the ridges and slopes that ran perpendicular to the trail for a spot. I spotted a faint foot-path heading off onto one such ridge, and we followed it out to one of the finest campsites we could have hoped for. A small fire ring, cleared spots for ground sleepers, trees for hammocks and drop-dead amazing views to the south, west and east. We arrived just in time to settle in before the evening light show started, then made ourselves a modest fire and ate Thai green curry chicken and rice by its glow. For girls like Sirena and I, it simply does not get any better.

    The next morning we didn’t get an early start (which is SO typical of us!), but we were on the trail in plenty of time to cover the 10 miles remaining to our base at Kentucky Camp. We had more historic flume hiking ahead, followed by a series of small ups and downs along the historic water system, and ending with a short but wearing road walk from Kentucky Camp to my trailer just down the road. We were low on food (Sirena’s finally got a through hiker’s appetite), and eager to get back before her family arrived at camp. Never the less, we hardly hurried. The trail is just too much fun to rush!

    By the time we caught sight of Kentucky Camp, we were hungry and a little tired in the feet - ready to kick back and relax. It was good that from the same ridge where we first spotted the buildings, we could also see King Gilbert - full of food and promising sandals and chairs. We were on a mission!

    Seeing her family's reaction to my choice of campsite was hilarious. It was a busy weekend in the grasslands, and the larger, more established sites had already been taken when I arrived Thursday night. However, I picked out a spot on a ridge with 365degree views - but no existing fire ring or bare dirt. Where do we camp? Where do we make a fire? I lead them through the steps of building the fire ring and that process stamped down the tallest grasses immediately around the trailer. By sunset, they were as in love with the spot as Sirena and I had been. Just took a little "getting used to" the Arizona way of things ;)

    I took my hammock down the hill to the nearest copse of trees for my hang that night and slept with a contented smile. What a great weekend on the Arizona Trail!

    One spot of poppies, blue dicks scattered, cacti looking like they're starting to bud out.
    Walker Canyon Trail
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    Back on the AZT with The Funky Bunch and our Southern Corespondent, Ram. I was wishing Nick could make this one, maybe next time.

    This hike started a whirlwind, little sleep weekend, with two trips to the southern hemisphere. I'm sure that's where Patagonia is.

    Denny got us on track right off the bat on this one, and made sure we stayed on the sidewalk for the first 1/4 mile or so. The route finding got continually tougher on this one. Luckily we had all 5 GPS's loaded with a traced track and just barely made the first turn on 1st street. We no longer had a sidewalk here, so we bushwhacked on the side of the pavement. The Border Patrol passed us twice, I'm guessing to make sure we were not lost.
    Two lanes, to Dirt, to Single track, and ultimately to a well worn trail....Yea!

    All kidding aside, the views were top notch, the history plaques were interesting, and the weather was just about perfect throughout this hike. I love the Grasses and rolling hills out there.

    Denny, Thanks for driving. Ram, Thanks for helping set up the shuttle (I'll tell Nick you made him proud), and Dave thanks for the interesting "Fast Food".

    As always, Joe kept things light and airy and was generally committed to making this an a safe event. He whined very little today.

    20 Passages now completed!!
    The Green in the map below is completed, Red is yet to do.

    Permit $$

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

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Tucson take I-10 East to AZ 83 south to the town of Sonoita. Turn right on AZ 82 aprox 12 mile to the town of Patigonia. As you enter town take the first right past the High School.(First Ave) Continue straight and it will turn into a well graded dirt road called FR 72. Continue 6 miles to the Trailhead parking lot.
    2+ mi range whistle
    blow it hard
    help comment issue

    end of page marker