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Bug Springs Trail, AZ

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Guide 52 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Tucson N
3.6 of 5 by 14
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 4.4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,015 feet
Elevation Gain 1,300 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,500 feet
Avg Time One Way 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 9.4
Interest Seasonal Creek
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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3  2019-06-05
AZT #11b PRW bypass
4  2018-08-25 MandaBearPig
6  2018-01-05 rvcarter
2  2013-12-26 wha
12  2013-10-02
Bug Spring Trail
43  2013-01-07
Soldier Trail #706
2  2012-01-22 Pivo
12  2011-09-17
Palisade Trail #99
Page 1,  2,  3
Author fricknaley
author avatar Guides 93
Routes 383
Photos 3,724
Trips 2,746 map ( 18,187 miles )
Age 44 Male Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, May, Oct, Nov → 8 AM
Seasons   Early Spring to Early Winter
Sun  6:10am - 6:21pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
You can put it on the map!
by fricknaley

The Coronado National Forest has recently resurrected an old, forgotten trail in the Catalinas. Bug Springs is a newly constructed trail that apparently was just finished this March. It somewhat overlays an old route from the Prison Camp at Hirabiyashi Campground up to the Middle Bear Campground and picnic area. This new trail offers a nice dichotomy of midlevel basin type scenery typical of the Molino Basin area with pristine, unburned low pine forest typical of the lower Green Mountain trail. Nice...a new trail in the Catalinas.

The Bug Springs trail leaves it's small parking area and almost immediately starts switchbacking up the ridge just towering above the lot, at first heading east then sharply turning west and north to attain the ridge. At first you have views up the canyon housing the old Bug Spring. You can see an old empty lot with the foundation of some old building. A small trail runs up the canyon floor from here, likely heading to the spring. As the trail climbs away from this canyon you gain the ridge separating it from the next canyon north. The trail follows this ridgeline northeast for a while, passing through areas of recovering burn. There are nice views up the highway and you can see Cathedral Rock way in the distance. As the trail runs the ridgeline, it starts to head over to the canyon on your left and eventually crosses over it at about 1.35 miles from the trailhead. It then climbs up the north wall of that canyon to gain the next ridgeline separating this canyon from the next one north again. Again, you run the ridgeline northeast. There are periodic views of Airmen Peak to your right. Many nice rock formations and progressive greenery. There are huge views out over the Rincons as well, especially Rincon Peak looming in the distance. As you run the ridgeline you can see you are heading towards a forest, beautifully untouched from any recent flames. The views down either side of the ridgeline get nicer. I labelled my GPS at 2.25 miles from the trailhead "End Burn" and it's true. There are nice mossy rock formations here and there that are quite remniscent of Green Mountain. The trail is running right towards a prominent spire. At 2.5 miles you hit the base of the spire and the trail turns sharply left and begins to descend.

This is really part 2 of the hike. As soon as you descend down towards the canyon floor,you enter a 5800 hundred foot plus forested paradise. The trail just meanders along the streamcourse of this nameless canyon, periodically crossing over it. There is ubiquitous shade, pines, oak,juniper....this section is heaven. I just wandered about dumbfounded through here, with a big goofy grin on my face. The trail blissfully runs through here for almost a mile before cutting north out of the floor to climb up a side drainage to access a ridge separating this canyon from it's famous neighbor north, Bear Canyon. AS you climb up to the saddle separating the two, you hit the highpoint of the hike, 6279 feet, at about 4.1 miles from the trailhead. From here it is a sharp slippery descent down a windy ridge towards the upper trailhead along the Catalina Highway. There are excellent views up towards Green Mountain and you can just catch a glimpse of Guthrie Mountain on the way down too. The trail ends at the highway, right in the vicinity of Middle Bear campground and picnic area, about a quarter mile up the road is the General Hitchcock campground. This is at about 5878 feet and 4.6 miles from the trailhead.

Return the way you came, and lay feet to some fine new Catalina trail.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2008-05-26 fricknaley
  • 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 Triplog Reviews
Bug Springs Trail
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I started at the lower trailhead across from the Prison Camp, and hiked to a point in the canyon. Ii turned back when a mountain biker told me I had a little more to go than daylight allowed me to hike. Actually, I was not super impressed with this trail, it was chillier than expected, and for some reason I was really tired and really hungry.
Bug Springs Trail
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An out and back from the Lower Bug Spring trailhead out to Bear Canyon, back over to Prison Camp and back. It was great to see the new signage with the AZT Logo marking this section of the AZT Wilderness Bypass - including nice signs all the way to Prison Camp!

Only saw a little water in the canyon east of Bear Canyon - not even totally sure if it was really a little flow or just left over from recent storms...

Bug Springs Trail
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due to the storm that came through there was a change of plans...the Catalinas were visited by a yeti

i took my old furry friend on a jaunt along one of my favorite local trails. it was cold, warm, windy, hot, freezing, snowy and overall :DANCE: perfect.
Bug Springs Trail
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Drove down to Tucson, met up with Nick and we weighed our hiking options given the rainy weather. The storms had moved east upon our arrival at the Bug Springs trailhead, so we set off into the Catalina high country. The views were outstanding, the grasslands golden, and the pine-oak forest green and inviting. It felt great to hike in southern Arizona again. A few light snow flurries teased us along the way and puffy gray clouds brushed against the rocks of Windy Point. Snow had frosted the trees on Green Mountain high above. We took a short break at the upper trailhead where we about froze, then headed back, bathed in golden afternoon light.

Bug Springs is a thoroughly enjoyable trail. It was great to finally have a chance to hike it.
Bug Springs Trail
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Pretty much as described. When you reach Mudd Spring there is a large down tree blocking the trail. Over or under neither is exactly "convenient", but if you proceed you'll likely have the rest of the trail to yourself. The trail stays more or less level and relatively easy to follow for the next "while", but as you begin downslope into the East Fork drainage it becomes progressively brushier (grassy actually) and harder to discern. That said, it's still very "do-able", but pay close attention (not easily accomplished with such great views in every direction...!). As advertised, there are cairns, but not always where most needed. Still, we only lost the trail briefly on two occasions. If you do lose it entirely it could prove labyrinthine picking your way through the various minor cliff bands. Gaiters are recommended as the grass (Love Grass, methinks) has a little needle-like seed (?) that has an affinity for socks.

We originally intended to make a loop out of this incorporating the East Fork Trail and Box Canyon, but were disappointed by not finding any water when we hit the EF (it was supposedly "the wettest September on record"...). We turned the opposite direction on the EF trail and intersected the Bear Canyon/Sycamore Canyon/East Fork saddle whereupon we descended into the Sycamore drainage and hit a magnificent (by Catalina standards) flowing stream. We rejoiced at not being forced into a dry camp (we were OUT of H2O at this juncture). We tanked up and continued on toward the Prison Camp area to spend the night. We slept soundly on solid rock at "The Marryin' Place" above the popular Prion Camp climbing area, Jailhouse Rock.

The next morning we started to repay the debt we incurred by hiking downhill all day on Saturday. Not sure exactly what the cumulative elevation gain was, but I'd be surprised if it weren't in excess of 5,000 feet. The Bug Spring trail was HOT until we descended into the lovely little riparian area that connects it to the Bear Canyon Picnic Area. From there we continued on the Green Mountain Trail to the San Pedro Overlook then by road (2.5 miles more or less) back to the Pallisades Trailhead. It was quite the tour taking in a LOT of what Lemmon has to offer.

Note: Mileages and elevations are VERY rough estimates.
Bug Springs Trail
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i've been itching to get back out on this trail, one of my catalina favorites. nice and cool up here today with a bit of pumpkin and vinegar in the breeze; perfect weather for a hike on bug springs trail. a few patches of snow here and there, but otherwise pretty dry. i could see some snow or ice on the trees on green mountain which was also pretty cool. i just love the catalinas :y:
Bug Springs Trail
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I have to admit, this is a very nicely done trail. Lots of diversity and an amazing transformation once you cross over the ridge where the fire damage stops, then again when you find yourself in a pine forest. Lots of water and still some snow along the shaded areas today and a nice little waterfall ta boot. Very cool little hike indeed.
Bug Springs Trail
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WOW! The forest Service did a great job of rehabilitating this trail. Five or so years ago a few friends of mine and I bushwhacked this trail and it was a true test of route finding. This was prior to the advent of the GPS. We didn't need a GPS, just strong calf muscles for the uphill climb in the hot sun. Next time I will start from Bear Canyon Trailhead and get the uphill out of the way first. I love how you drop down into a little traveled canyon with Ponderosa Pine and follow a creek bed. Bug Springs is worth the trip.

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 Bug Spring Trailhead
From Tucson take the Catalina Highway up into the mountains. Right around milepost 8 is the signed lefthand turn off for the Gordon Hirabiyashi Campground. About 1/4 mile past this is the signed trailhead for Bug Springs trail on the right. There is a small pullout with a few parking spots.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 133 mi - about 2 hours 31 min
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 23.9 mi - about 54 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 277 mi - about 4 hours 37 mins
page created by fricknaley on May 26 2008 7:21 pm
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