Wonderful Wrightson View
Most people hit the Santa Ritas to bag Mt. Wrightson, the highest peak in the range. This hike will take you to the highest point on the Santa Rita Crest at 9146 ft. The elevation gain from Madera Canyon is similar to Mt. Wrightson, but with a bit of off-trail routefinding, ending with one of the most spectacular views of Wrightson itself.
Please refer to the trail descriptions on this site for either the Old Baldy or Super Trail to get yourself to Baldy Saddle at 8750 ft. (trail stats above are from the Old Baldy Tr.) From Baldy Saddle, take the Crest Trail north, climbing away from Mt. Wrightson. At 0.5 miles from the saddle, the trail ends its climb and turns a corner. There is a small grove of aspen in the area and the trail descends a little. From this point, bushwhack up the slope to your left to attain the small saddle on the ridgeline. There are several cairns to lead the way, but if you don't find them just get to the top of the ridgeline as best as you can. Once you reach the ridgeline, turn left and follow the colorful, rocky top northwest toward the summit (about 0.5 miles). There will be a small notch with a tree in it right before the final scramble to the summit. Either scramble right out of the notch, or look to the right to find a natural switchback in the rock that leads to the colorful summit cairn. The views of Mt. Wrightson and the surrounding area from Mt. Ian are incredible, and unlike Wrightson, you probably won't have to share them with anyone else. You could also approach Mt. Ian coming from Florida Saddle on the Crest Trail, in that case look for a cairn on the trail just before you top out on the final climb up to the ridgeline before descending down to Baldy Saddle. Mt. Ian is great either as a destination or as part of a longer backpack in the beautiful Santa Rita high country. Or, if you find yourself with some steam left in your legs after summiting Wrightson, this would be a great way to add on some additional 2 miles/400 ft. elevation gain and scenery.
Bellows Spring on the Old Baldy Trail
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.