Bearpaw Rock & Pete Mountain Loop, AZ | HikeArizona
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Bearpaw Rock & Pete Mountain Loop, AZ

Guide 10 Triplogs  0 Topics
  4.5 of 5 
107 10 0
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 7.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,468 feet
Elevation Gain 2,221 feet
Accumulated Gain 3,052 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 5.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 22.76
 Interest Off-Trail Hiking, Seasonal Creek & Peak
 Backpack Yes
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4  2017-08-13 fricknaley
20  2017-01-11
Agua Caliente Trail Bear Paw Rock
1  2014-06-15 waterdog
13  2011-08-27
Pete Mountain and Mt Hopkins Loop
6  2011-08-27
Pete Mountain and Mt Hopkins Loop
22  2010-10-09 gpsjoe
25  2008-08-16 Jeffshadows
16  2008-08-16 fricknaley
author avatar Guides 93
Routes 396
Photos 4,188
Trips 3,498 map ( 22,737 miles )
Age 47 Male Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
co-author avatarGuides 28
Routes 20
Photos 672
Trips 169 map (1,088 Miles)
Age 45 Male Gender
Location Old Pueblo
Associated Areas
list map done
Tucson Region
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Radar Map
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Preferred Oct, May, Sep, Apr → 7 AM
Seasons   Early Spring to Early Winter
Sun  6:52am - 6:21pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimeteracres
🔥 2005 Florida Fire23.2k

Beat feet to the Paw and Pete
by fricknaley & Jeffshadows

This is one of the sweetest, tough little loops the Santa Ritas have to offer. Climb a super-steep trail, hit a gorgeous saddle, scramble out to a seldom visited peak to take in breathtaking views of Hopkins and Wrightson then top it off with a jaunt along one of the sweetest trails in Tucson before descending to an old mine. Sound good?

From the ever-present Roundup trailhead at the top of Madera Canyon head off from the top end along the Old Baldy trail. Within a quarter-mile, the Old Baldy trail breaks off left at a signed intersection. Continue straight ahead on up the Vault Mine trail, which has been written up before on this site. The trail first climbs up the east side of Madera Creek for a ways, then breaks away left through some wonderful forested areas. Look and listen for the elegant trogon through here, it seems to be a bit of a hotspot. After a total of 0.6 miles from the Baldy intersection, an old metal sign on your right announces the intersection for the Carrie Nation trail straight ahead and the Vault Mine trail which breaks off to the right. Head right and prepare to're gonna gain over 1300 feet in the next 0.9 miles on perhaps the steepest trail in Tucson (hence the old nickname, Very Steep Trail). The Vault Mine trail crisscrosses up the ridge leading up to the Agua Caliente trail. It passes through some outstanding forest along the way and is pretty well-shaded. About halfway up the Santa Rita Crest and Ridgeline pops through the trees, always a wonderful sight. About 2/3 of the way up you'll pass the Treasure Vault mine on your right. After a total of roughly 1.8 miles from the trailhead, you'll come to the signed intersection for the Agua Caliente trail, at a little over 7200 feet and 1770 feet from your car.

Hang a right on the Agua Caliente trail and head west to the Agua Caliente Saddle. The sign says it is 0.8 miles to the saddle, it's not. It's more like 0.3 miles along a thin, beauty of a trail affording great views down Madera Canyon. The Agua Caliente Saddle is marked with an old metal sign and multiple large juniper trees. The continuation of the Agua Caliente trail heads south down the backside of the saddle. Look for an unsigned, but beaten path heading west from the saddle. Take this route as it first climbs up the east slopes of Peak 7390. The Saddle itself sits right around 7200. The first awesome thing you'll come to on the east part of Peak 7390 is Bearpaw Rock, a nice pile of huge rock that someone etched two big bear pawprints and a bear's head onto. The views east of Hopkins and Wrightson from here are outstanding. This is a destination in and of itself.

From Bearpaw continue on the path as it continues to head west and climb up to 7390 through some dense foliage. The trail varies from easy to follow to quite vague but you are hiking a vegetated ridgeline so there are not that many places you can go. Climb more before descending to a second saddle where you can see Peak 7661 (Pete Mountain) right in front of you. This nameless saddle sits about 7164, so you gotta climb about 500 more feet up to Pete. The route becomes pretty vague through here, but there are intermittent cairns and anytime you wander off a brief search will likely turn up the route again. Like before, there really is nowhere else to go. After about 0.4 miles of scrambling and climbing you'll finally reach the cleared out, grassy summit of Pete Mountain (aka Santa Rita Peak). The views in all directions are just astounding. Especially out to Wrightson, the Crest, and Hopkins. There are amazing views south of Hopkins into the rugged Rattlesnake Canyon. There is a register here. The bushwhack/route traversing out to the summit of Pete is just a touch under 1 mile from the Agua Caliente Saddle.

Head back the way you came to Agua Caliente Saddle. Head back east on the Agua Caliente trail to the Vault Mine Intersection. Continue past the Vault Mine, staying on Agua Caliente. The next 1.3 miles out to the unsigned but obvious Carrie Nation trail intersection take you along one of the sweetest stretches of trail in the Santa Ritas and Tucson in general. The elevation change is minimal. The views and vegetation along the way are maximal. Cross over many rockpiles and cross over a few drainages, cross through some flower fields and cross through some primo pine forest. About 1.3 miles from the Vault intersection you will see a clear, unmarked trail break off to your left and descend sharply down the canyon. This is the uppermost section of the Carrie Nation trail. If you hit the Josephine Saddle you went too far.

Descend the steep upper reaches of the Carrie Nation trail as it descends among the pines down steep switchbacks to ultimately hit the canyon bottom, which descends more gradually down to the official End of Trail sign marking the upper limit of the maintained Carrie Nation trail. This continuation segment is just as easy to follow. Once you hit the canyon bottom from the Agua Caliente trail, follow it down to the End of Trail sign, cross over the little creek, and check out the Carrie Nation mine. A little farther down is the old machinery left behind. Keep going past the machinery and follow the Carrie Nation 0.6 miles back to the intersection for the Vault Mine trail at the old metal sign. There used to be a new wooden sign for the Carrie Nation trail here, the last two times I came through the sign was broken. Head back down the bottom reaches of Vault Mine to Madera creek and follow the trail back past the Old Baldy intersection, then your car to complete this 7.5 mile, 3000 foot gain beauty.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2008-08-18 fricknaley & Jeffshadows
    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 $$
    Visit overview & permits.
    2022 - FAQ
    $8 per vehicle per day
    $10 per vehicle per week
    $40 per vehicle per year (valid for one year from date of purchase)

    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.

    2022 Catalina State Park
    Per vehicle (1-4 Adults): $7.00
    Individual/bicycle: $3.00

    2022 Sabino Canyon Tram is $15 extra. [ website ]

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

    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Tucson: I-19 south to exit 63 Continental. At the end of the exit take a left and follow brown signs to Madera Canyon. You'll be taking White House Canyon Road 13.2 miles to Madera Canyon.
    page created by fricknaley on Aug 17 2008 3:48 pm

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