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Aliso Spring Trail, AZ

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HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 5.6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,898 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,837 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 14.79
Interest Ruins, Historic, Perennial Waterfall & Perennial Creek
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
feature photo
Photos Viewed All MineFollowing
28  2020-12-05
Papago Spring A20 Havoc site
3  2016-03-26 GrottoGirl
22  2014-11-25
Aliso and Papago Springs Crash Site
34  2013-03-30
Valley of the Moon
Author Jeffshadows
author avatar Guides 28
Routes 20
Photos 672
Trips 169 map ( 1,088 miles )
Age 44 Male Gender
Location Old Pueblo
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred Mar, Nov, Feb, Apr → Early
Seasons   ALL
Sun  5:33am - 7:25pm
3 Alternative

...But Rincon Peak is right there!!
by Jeffshadows

Overview: You won't find the Aliso Spring trail on the Rincon Peak topo or other newer recreation maps of the area; I assure you, however, it's still there. The spring itself has been outfitted with a cistern, large steel holding tank, and windmill pump. It was presumably built to provide year-round water to livestock that once grazed the area, before it became part of the Wilderness. The trail appears on the 6th edition of "Rincon Mountains, AZ: A Trail and Recreation Map" published by Rainbow Expeditions, Inc. The course described by this map is still completely accurate, although the trail is now overgrown and does not receive maintenance. The trail appears to see its most use by equestrians. It starts out at Papago Springs as a jeep trail and eventually becomes rocky and narrow as it winds its way down to Aliso Spring, roughly 2.8 miles away and into the Rincon Mountain Wilderness. To reach the the initiation point for the Aliso trail, one must first negotiate the Papago Springs Trail (A continuation of FSR 3541). Hiking the Papago Springs trail will add 3 miles (round trip) to the hike.

Hike: A vehicle barrier stands in the middle of the jeep trail that is the end of the Papago Springs trail at Papago Springs, just near the large metal tank. The trail beyond this vehicle barrier is the Aliso Spring trail. Just after leaving the mesquite bosque at Papago, the trail begins to climb with a sharp grade. This climb persists for roughly three-fifths of a mile and the trail seems to be trying to reach the summit of the unnamed peak it is climbing towards. After three-fifths of a mile, the trail is flanked by "Wilderness Boundary" markers, take roughly five steps beyond these markers and look left (east) as the trail breaks away from the larger Jeep trail that continues up the unnamed peak. Turn onto the overgrown foot trail to the left; do not follow the more defined Jeep trail that continues towards the peak.

This section of the trail is overgrown, rutted, rocky, and provides ample opportunities for falls. The trail is flanked by acacia and tall grasses that make the going a little rough, but these conditions do not persist for long. After traveling roughly a half-mile, the trail approaches a drainage, on the other side of which stands a ranch wire fence following a long ridge line that ascends towards Rincon Peak. As the trail approaches the fence, a makeshift gate becomes visible. The gate consists of lops of wire holding a pole at the end of one section of fence in place. Pulling the pole free allows access, and restoring it closes the gate. Pass through the gate. The trail basically skirts this fence and seems to be headed to Rincon Peak, which is visible nearly the entire trip. The view of Rincon improves as the trail ascends ever closer along the ridge. From this point, forward, route finding can get tricky at times. Should you lose the trail while on the ridge, zig-zagging toward the fence will usually locate it. The trail follows near to the fence as it climbs the persistent grade of the ridge line. This course continues for roughly nine-tenths of a mile until the trail approaches a minor hilltop covered with rock along the ridge.

After climbing over the rock pile that marks this highpoint on the ridge, the trail drops onto a little grassy meadow. The fence appears to curve in slightly, and Shaw Canyon to the East will now be closer to the trail than it has yet been, up until this point. Immediately begin to look for a sandy trail that makes a fork with the trail the continues up the ridge. The sandy trail is the continuation of the Aliso Spring trail, and the ridge trail continues on following the entire course of the fence, presumably for maintenance. Do not continue up the ridge, instead turn right (east) onto the sandy trail which quickly becomes rocky, as before. The trail climbs over a small hill and Aliso Spring becomes visible in the canyon bottom. After passing the hill, the trail begins to descend steeply into Shaw Canyon and approaches Aliso Spring. The trail passes by two horizontal tanks before arriving at a large, heavily-weathered steel tank. The Aliso Spring concrete cistern is situated just to the rear of this tank. A functioning windmill sits just up-canyon from the cistern. By following the canyon for roughly a quarter-mile, a set of scenic waterfalls can be reached. Return by the same route to Papago Springs.

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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.

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2008-05-03 Jeffshadows
  • sub-region related
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.

Permit $$

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

Map Drive
High Clearance possible when dry

To hike
In order to begin the Aliso Sring trail, one must first negotiate the Papago Springs trail. Please see the description for the Papago Springs trail for further information about this leg of the hike. The directions below are to the starting point of the Papago Springs trail:

To reach the trail, get to Old Spanish Trail in east Tucson and take it east as if to go to Colossal Cave park. Roughly a mile and a half before reaching Colossal Cave, Old Spanish Trail meets south Pistol Hill road. To the south it is paved and to the north it is a dirt road. Turn left (north) and follow south Pistol Hill road for exactly 1.2 miles. At roughly one mile, begin looking to the right (east) of the road for a junction with another dirt road, this will be FSR 3541. Turn onto FSR 3541, an unimproved dirt road passable by passenger car, and continue east for another 1.3 miles until a small sign to the right of the road becomes visible at a form up ahead. The sign points to the northeast and reads "National Forest." Turn left (northeast) here for the final four-tenths of a mile trip to the trailhead. This final section of FSR 3541 requires a high-clearance vehicle, but ample parking exists at this junction and the last stretch could be walked. The forest service boundary at the end of FSR 3541 is the parking area and initiation point for the hike. There is ample parking near the corrals.
page created by Jeffshadows on May 03 2008 10:08 pm
90+° 8am - 6pm kills

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