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Manning Camp Trail, AZ

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Guide 37 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Tucson
4.1 of 5 by 10
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Difficulty 4.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 7.4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,545 feet
Elevation Gain 4,168 feet
Accumulated Gain 4,306 feet
Avg Time One Way 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 21.75
Interest Seasonal Creek
Backpack Connecting Only
Dogs not allowed
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
35  2019-04-05
Rincon Backpack
14  2017-03-04
AZT: I-10 to Summerhaven
34  2017-03-04
AZT Spring Break 2017
28  2017-02-07
Saguaro N P Quilter Trail to Madrona R S
15  2016-09-19
Manning Camp via the Tub to Turkey Creek TH
27  2016-09-17
Rincon Manning Camp Turkey Creek
19  2016-03-24
AZT: Vail to Oracle
6  2015-10-11
Manning Camp via Redington Road
Page 1,  2,  3,  4
Author writelots
author avatar Guides 19
Routes 39
Photos 5,577
Trips 337 map ( 3,894 miles )
Age 46 Female Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep
Seasons   ALL
Sun  6:10am - 6:21pm
Official Route
11 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Just a little link
by writelots

Likely In-Season!
Note: Page stats are for the full trail from ranger station.

Connects the Devil's Bathtub trail near Manning Camp with the Grass Shack Campground in Saguaro National Park's Rincon district and on to the Madrona Ranger Station (not accessible by private vehicle). However, this trail will eventually become a part of the Arizona Trail, since it is the shortest route from Madrona ranger station to Manning Camp. It is not, however, the shortest route from Manning Camp to either the Tanque Verde Ridge or Douglas Springs TH (as the author discovered the hard way).

The trail description is for the route as it heads down the hill from Manning Camp. It passes along the southern side of a large canyon below Manning Camp - eventually descending to the bottom of the canyon where the Grass Shack Campground is found. When we visited, this campground showed no signs of recent use, was completely overtaken by vegetation and felt a little eerie... However, water and facilities were present. The trail those choosing to head out to Tanque Verde Ridge or Douglas Springs trails will have to climb back up to Cow Head Saddle here - an extra 800' ascent after all that lovely lost elevation.

Those continuing to Madrona Ranger station (along the route of the AZ Trail) will keep heading roughly downhill through the foothills. Access to the ranger station by car is blocked by a number of crossings of private land, so the closest trailhead to Madrona is the trailhead at the end of Camino Loma Alta, which takes hikers out to Hope Camp. From Hope Camp, it is possible to link together a number of informal routes to reach Madrona.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a more difficult hike. It would be unwise to attempt this without prior experience hiking.

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

2008-09-12 writelots
  • Rincon HAZ Map
    area related
    Rincon HAZ Map
  • Rincon Mountain Distric East
    area related
    Rincon Mountain Distric East
  • Tucson Mountain District West
    area related
    Tucson Mountain District West
  • SNP Cactus Forest Map
    area related
    SNP Cactus Forest Map
  • nps related
  • 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 of 11 deeper Triplog Reviews
Manning Camp Trail
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AZT: I-10 to Summerhaven
Day 1: I decided to join Dallin on a portion of his Spring Break AZT dash. We were dropped off at Gabe Zimmerman TH on Saturday a.m. and started the trek at segment #8. It was a sunny, beautiful day. The trail is mostly flat and winds through a scenic desert. Saguaros dominate, Rincon Peak looms and neat geology surrounds. The smell of spring Creosote wafted through the air. Plenty of mountain bikers on this stretch. We breaked at Rincon Creek and enjoyed a brief soak. Heading up and into the mountains we would cross many flowing drainages and even saw a distant waterfall. After some climbing, we both hit a wall and stopped for camp on a rock slab 2 miles short of Grass Shack. Worst campsite ever. We were joined at camp by Anna, a solo backpacker on the 2nd night of her maiden voyage, who we'd been leap frogging in those last 6 miles.

Day 2: We woke up refreshed and determined to make up some milage. We started our climb up Mica Mountain. The ever changing terrain kept me in awe. Unlike anything I'd seen in AZ. The Juniper grasslands gave way to pines. The trail was beautiful and easy to follow. The creek at Grass Shack was flowing good. Temps dropped as we climbed and we didn't see any sunshine all day. Our nutrition / water break at Manning Camp was fairly chilly. We reached the top shortly after and enjoyed the stunning views. We hit a few snow patches on the north face of Mica. Nothing too bad but the slow melt made the trail loose and slick. We made our way down through the oak and manzanita forest before a nice afternoon/evening stroll over the rolling grasslands. Winds were ripping, deer were grazing and we both nearly stepped on a very lethargic baby rattler. After an impressive sunset and 1.5 hours of night hiking, we settled on another lousy camp site, but made it work.

Day 3: Didn't start well at all. I woke up with a screaming IT band and a serious case of pumpkin chaffe with a 25 mile day ahead. I threw an elastic knee brace on and went commando to help combat the chaffe (it helps). Needless to say, it took some warming up before I could move. I limped my way up the pass and down to Molino Basin. Dallin informed me that this was one of my last bail out options, but encouraged me to keep going, so I did. Once we topped out and I saw the views down into Sabino Canyon, my spirits were instantly lifted. I pushed on through the pain and was grateful I did. Wouldn't want to miss this canyon. We made our way back down into Saguaros and a lush riparian zone. The entire canyon and every drainage was raging. Quite a few day hikers and a few backpackers along this stretch. I can see why, Sabino is a showstopper. Despite my ailments, we were cruising along the canyon and making great time. Romero Pass put an end to that. I could barely lift my right leg at this point but we pushed on. Eventually we topped out and down into Wilderness of Rocks. More snow patches in this area. Some icy, but no additional gear is needed, just a careful step. The snow melt fueled good flowing water everywhere. We had about 5 miles left and I was hurting, completely drained and flat out delirious. Spending another night wasn't an option. Temps dropped quickly and darkness fell. We had a couple hours of night hiking with some interesting route finding along snowy creeks. It took some teamwork but we made it out and to our ride after road walking up from Marshall Gulch TH. Temps were already in the mid 30's. Burritos and beverages saved the day. Overall, an amazing and epic trip. We knocked out a good amount of trail with big climbs but I also got my pumpkin handed to me a few times throughout. Well worth it.

Brittles and poppies mostly. Still too early.
Manning Camp Trail
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Tanque Verde Peak
I got to bag the last of the 3 major peaks in the Rincons, and got to do it in It was pretty nasty on New Years Day, but the forecast said the rain would go away by 5ish, so we thought that worst-case we'd have to start the hike that afternoon in ponchos. To our surprise, things had cleared up by the time we reached the trailhead at around 1pm.

We were dry for the entire hike to Juniper Basin, but we were hiking in clouds for the last mile and a half or so. As we were setting up camp it started raining, and that went on until just about the time of night when it would've turned to snow. This made for some fun shaking the frozen raindrops off of our tents the next day.

Altogether, the camping experience was very wet and cold. Despite a valiant effort, it was impossible to get a real fire going. The toilet was impossible to find in the dark, though in the morning we discovered it about 30 yds from the creek off the path between sites 1 and 2. I don't think the temps got far below freezing, but my 22 degree sleeping bag was about at its limit.

The hiking on this trip was worth the trouble though. TVR trail, which I had been on a few times before, is always great, and the area from Juniper Basin to the summit (which we experienced for the first time on this clear morning with a fresh dusting of snow) is amazing. There was water everywhere, and that made the hike down from Cowhead Saddle to the Manning Camp Trail particularly enjoyable. By the time we reached the Quilter Trail it was a slog, but this was a great 27 hours in the mountains.
Manning Camp Trail
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Manning Camp via the Tub to Turkey Creek TH
After a nice evening and morning we now had to go back. Kind of sad to leave this place. The question is which way do we want to go back, the way we came or via the Tub? I wanted to see the Tub but it would add about 1 1/2 to our journey and it would be warm as we got toward the bottom of the mountain. K&K assured the trail was nice (cuz after yesterday's North Slope adventure I wasn't in the mood for working too hard again, ha!). I couldn't make up my mind so Wendy said we would do the Tub; which turned out to be the right choice and that way, I got to see one of the "must do" when you come up to Manning Camp.

And wow was that a downhill to get to the Tub. So glad we didn't come up that way which was one of the options we were originally going to do. The hike down thru here is really pretty thru the forest and with occasional views to the far valley and mountains. There were a couple areas with water which is always a nice treat in the desert. The Devil's Bathtub wasn't draining very much but it was still a pretty cool site. We actually spent a little time here hanging around so that was nice and then it was off toward Spud Rock Campground Junction on part of the East Slope Trail.

Once again you had off and on views to the valleys as you hike off and on thru the forest. It's very entertaining hiking up here as the terrain changes quite a bit. We followed some more running water as we continued on part of the East Slope Trail to what we dubbed The Park. It was a clear forest floor with large trees sprouting to the sky. Down the Switchback Trail we went to the ferned meadow of Spud Rock Campground Junction. From there our next stop would be Deer Head Spring. However, there is one part of the trail just above the spring that is a bit difficult to decipher but we made it down though I don't know if it was the right way. We hung at the Spring for a bit. We were trying to take advantage of the shade as much as we could.

The next part of the trail was probably the worst as we headed down to Mud Hole Spring which would be our last shaded stop. The trail is a little gully as you hike down and then you encounter the rock n roll rocky sections. You go thru manzanita sections and more foresty sections though the size of the trees is smaller now. I was having a little trouble getting my pack comfortable so that was not fun. I was disappointed because on my trip up; my pack didn't give me any issues. I packed it like Wendy did; at least I thot so, but it wasn't fitting quite right.

At Mud Hole Spring we hung out and Karl showed me the spring. It didn't have much water in it but enough to filter fairly nicely. We still had quite a bit of down to go but at least on this part, there would be steps that really helped - although I despised them on the way up as I'd rather hike up on the less stable ground than have to lift my body up those steps. Kathy, on the other hand, loves steps on the way up. The trail that didn't have the steps, once again, was in pretty shabby shape. It was also starting to get warmer now but every once in awhile we would get a breeze. We were sure glad to get to the saddle though as from here on out, the trail conditions would be much better.

Karl agreed to one more stop for what little shade there was at the Park Boundary. This was actually kind of nice because we could look back at where we had been. Filtered light was now coming in as the residual from the hurricane was making its way north. This was indeed welcomed even though the humidity came with it. From here it's the hills and ridgeline hike back to the TH. K&K took off and we made our way thru the grassy hillsides and cowsh...t (they're eating well ;) ) to join them. Thx for the beer and gatorade.

I didn't take any video after the Switchback Trail intersection as I was holding on to the mountain so I couldn't really hike and film. I doubt I even took that many pictures once we started heading down. It's too bad really cuz once the filtered light came in, it was good viewing. But by that time, I was just too tired.

Thx Wendy for getting me up and down this mountain and still being my friend after all this and other times. I still don't know how you get me to do those things :-k that are out of my comfort zone and at the edge of my capability. Karl, thx for keeping that fire going on Sunday nite. K&K, Thx for the beer and gatorade and chips.

It was absolutely great! well except for the hard parts :lol:

2-15-2017 finally the two part video:
Part 1 from Manning Camp to Devil's Bathtub [ youtube video ]
Part 2 from Devil's Bathtub toward Turkey Creek Trailhead [ youtube video ]
Manning Camp Trail
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AZT: Vail to Oracle
March 24th
Miles: 17.46
AEG: 5,520 ft

We flew through the first couple of miles to X9 Ranch Road, where we left off the last time we got off the AZT in this area.

Back on the AZT!

Soon we reached the Saguaro National Park boundary. Up until this point the wildflowers were sparse and withered, but from here there were plenty of great looking blooms for the next couple of miles. After taking a short break at the Quilter Trail water crossing, we passed our first thru-hiker of the trip and started the long climb to the top of Mica Mountain.

As we climbed the environment slowly transitioned from saguaros and ocotillos, to shrubs and century plants, then oak grasslands, and finally pinion-oak as we rolled into the Grass Shack Campground. Here we met 3 other thru-hikers. One was on her first thru-hike, and the other two (No Trace & Unbreakable) are triple crowners (those who have completed the PCT, AT, and CDT). We stopped to eat lunch and enjoy the company at the campground. It's always fun to pick the brains of triple crowners.

After finishing up lunch, we filled our bottles at the spring and continued on the trail up to Manning Camp. From Grass Shack, the environment transitions to a hearty ponderosa pine forest. At the campground there was one other person staying the night, a section hiker from Canada who had picked up the trail at Grass Shack and was planning on continuing to Superior.

By the time we were going to bed I was feeling pretty crappy. Extremely soar throat and congested. Before starting the trip I was still getting over a chest cold, and apparently I wasn't better yet. We expected it to be very cold at 8000ft, but surprisingly we both kept pretty warm the entire night.

March 25th
Miles: 21.97
AEG: 2,910 ft

Today was our "long day", with minimal AEG. Our goal was to make it to Molino Basin Campground. I woke up feeling slightly better.

After packing up camp and getting some more water at the spring, we headed up the trail for the top of Mica Mountain. Along the way we passed No Trace and Unbreakable again. The pine forest on top of Mica is quite impressive. Once we topped out and started down the other side, views of the basin below and Mt. Lemmon open up. Italian Spring had drinkable water but lots of algae on top.

We started the long descent into the basin below, and then the traverse across the hills to the base of Lemmon. Beautiful grasslands! By now the mistake of wearing newish shoes for this hike had caught up with me and my right foot had been rubbed raw on the back. I tried fixing things up with some mole skin and some bandaids.

Just before the Lake, we caught up to the section hiker from Canada who was going to stop at the next drainage. We stopped with him at the drainage to get some water for the last hump into the campground.

Once we got to the campground we greeted the camp host to get a spot. We asked him if there was any water around, he claimed "there is no water, it's dry out here." We were both surprised a little considering how much water we had seen getting to this point. He kindly offered us a liter each to make it through the night, and gave us a spot which was right next to the AZT. We didn't quite believe him about the water situation, so once we set up camp we dropped into creek bed below the campground and sure enough there were spots that had running water (not even 200 yards away from the camp host, I might add...)

March 26th
Miles: 17.25
AEG: 5,133 ft

I woke up feeling terrible, super congested, coughing up lots of phlegm, and running a small fever. I thought about bailing at the Highway next to the campground, but decided to try a few miles before making the decision. The going was extremely slow, probably less than 2mph.

We reached Shreve Saddle and took a quick break, I popped some Tylenol for the fever. I knew after this point I was going to be committed for some serious uphill either going forward or turning back. I decided to keep going.

We saw lots of people along this stretch going to Hutch's Pool. It was cool to see Saguaros again near the bottom, because at the end of the day we would be back up in the Pines. I'm a sucker for "transition hikes." Once we reached the bottom, we took another break in Sabino Canyon where there was flowing water. This was the point where I was either going to commit all the way to Summerhaven or go back. I nearly turned back here, but there was just too much planning that went into this and I wasn't sure I would be able to come back to finish this up for a long time.

We passed the junction to Hutch's Pool and started the long climb up through the west fork of Sabino Canyon. This place is stunning. With every foot of elevation gain the views got better. The trail itself is graded extremely well so the climbing felt almost effortless. Once again we got to see the transitions from saguaros, to sparse pines on Romero Pass. There were plenty of pools and spots with running water in the canyon.

I was starting to feel a bit better after we took a 30-45 minute break at the pass. It was a good thing too, because this is where the real climbing starts. You aren't graced with very many switch back after this point, it's just straight up. About half way through huffing and puffing, I looked at my Arizona Trail app to see how much further we had to climb and let out a little snicker. My cousin asked "what's up?" and I told him "do you really want to know?", he said "yes", I told him "it gets steeper." We both laughed and continued up the mountain.

After topping out and taking a break, we joined the Wilderness of Rocks trail. This was by far my favorite part of the hike. This is one of those places that feel really special, a feeling of reverence overcame me. We meandered through the beautiful giant boulders and trees, before reaching an awesome spot to camp right next to Lemmon Creek.

By the time we were going to bed I felt great, except for my feet. I used some alcohol wipes, and anti-septic wipes before reapplying a few bandaids.

As we drifted to sleep I heard a series of bangs/explosions in the distance, which culminated into a bunch of bangs/explosions at once. Fireworks in Tucson?

March 27th
Miles: 18.8
AEG: 2,609 ft

We got up excited for a real meal in Summerhaven. It was actually warm enough during the night that I started sweating in my quilt. After eating a quick breakfast and filling our bottles with water out of Lemmon Creek, we started the gradual 1000ft climb to where we would meet the Marshall's Gultch Trail. I was still awe struck by beauty and grandeur of the Wilderness of Rock. We made our way to the paved road we would walk into town on.

After satisfying a soda and candy craving at the General Store, we ate some breakfast at the Sawmill Run restraunt. The manager or owner (not sure which) came out to talk to us and asked if we were on our way to Utah. We told him we were ending this segment in Oracle.

Oracle Ridge was hot. On the way down we met a 3 time triple crowner "One Gallon", who was taking a siesta in the shade of some cedars. We talked with him for about 45 minutes. Another very interesting person.

We reached the American Flag TH about an hour before the sun set.

This now puts us at just over 50% of AZT miles completed, and we have now connected a foot path all the way from the border to Roosevelt. Woo hoo!
Manning Camp Trail
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Douglas Spring/Mica Mtn/Grass Shack
Day 1: Finished work at 4, dropped of a car at Loma Alta, and got shuttled to Douglas Spring TH just before 6. We had to use headlamps almost the entire way, but it was a pretty smooth hike. Thanks to the camper at Site 1 who directed us to Site 2 and let us use his bear locker (even though there was a bear locker at Site 3 just about 40 feet away from us which we were too stupid to see in the dark). Since we got there so late, there was a lot of getting disoriented trying to find our way around, and hopefully our confused ranting didn't keep the other camper awake. I'm afraid we were quite close to being those campers...

Day 2: Went up to Cowhead Saddle, Spud Rock, and Mica Mountain, then down the Mica Mountain Trail to Manning Camp and down the Manning Camp Trail to Grass Shack for the night. A pretty big day, and the weather couldn't have been any better. Back in May I only lasted about 5 mins on Spud Rock before getting cold, but now in December it was warm with just the slightest breeze. The descent from Mica that afternoon as the sun was setting was about as good as it gets.

Day 3: Booked it down to Loma Alta in 4 hrs so that we could make it to work that afternoon. Remind me to never ascend this route in the summer. Gorgeous this time of year though.

Plenty of water at Grass Shack and Manning Camp, and pretty good flow at Douglas Spring. No beer at Grass Shack. :-({|=
Manning Camp Trail
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What a trip! I have been looking at this hike (or some variation) for some time now. I started from the Loma Alta TH about 3:30 after finishing up work, and about an hour later than I had wanted to start, but sometimes duty calls...Overloaded with more stuff than I need (as per usual) the grind up was pretty taxing, especially with the high humidity level. I was sweating buckets the whole way up! I had to navigate the last hour + by headlamp which made for really slow going, especially trying to find an overgrown trail and make my way across numerous wet creek crossings. There is flowing water everywhere in the Rincons right now, I have never seen so much water and green growth out here! All the washes are flowing, and there are waterfalls around every corner it seemed. The Quilter trail and the first 4 miles of the Mannig Camp trail are really overgrown, lots of annuals and grasses going to town with all of the moisture. Soaked my boots making the crossing to the Grass Shack campground, my destination for the night. I had enough energy to set up camp and filter some water, but I was too wiped to even worry about dinner. Slept really well in the tent, temps were in the mid to low 60's so very comfortable. Got up a bit before the sun on Wednesday for some breakfast, and then loaded up for the trip up the mountain. Made good time up to Manning Camp where I stopped for a break to look around, have a snack, and filter some water. Clouds were looming in and the thunder started up as I was approaching Mica Mountain, but I had come too far to not make my goal. Made it to the top and signed the register, saw a few familiar names in the book. From here I continued on the Fire Loop over to Spud Rock and made the scramble up. Fantastic views up above, simply breathtaking! Enjoyed a summit brew and had to skedaddle, there was a big dark cloud hanging over Mica and I knew better than to chance it. I went down the Fire loop to the Cow Head Saddle trail when the sprinkling started. This kept up for about 45 minutes, and then the real rain started. I had to take a break to stow my electronics in a dry bag and I got out my rain jacket, all the while trying to get further down the mountain and away from the potential lightning...Made the Cow Head Saddle and took the Douglas Spring trail on back to camp. It rained hard enough that my boots got soaked through in pretty quick fashion, this ended up rubbing a pretty nasty hole under my right ankle once I was back to camp to assess damages. I finally ate my lunch about 3:30, and dozed in the tent waiting for the bugs to go away with the dark. Woke up for a quick snack and to send off a SPOT signal to my wife so she didn't fret too much. Thursday I woke up about 5:30 to get in an early breakfast and get packed up for the trip out. I had my first human contact in two days when I ran into Andrew from the NPS trail crew about a mile or so onto the Quilter trail. I stopped to chat for a few and share some experiences, nice guy! From here I powered down to Rincon Creek (I am pretty sure) for a snack and to filter some more water. Finally made it back to the trusty Quest van about 11:30 to take off my boots and see that I had a big blister on my left foot and a few more rub marks form all of the wet boot hiking. I don't think my boots were ever dry on this trip, I might have retired this pair in style. Headed back into Tucson for some much needed lunch at one of my favorites, La Parilla Suiza. Promptly inhaled a chile relleno, enchilada, rice, beans, two bowls of chips, two cups of water, and two cups of iced tea. Refueled, I headed back to Phoenix for a nice shower at home and then some family time. Simply amazing trip, any time you can go through 6 different bio-zones on a hike you know you have done well. P.S., if anyone makes it up to the Grass Shack in the near future, there are a few extra Sunspot Gold ales in the bear box at site two, if the rangers do not get to it first...

Huge amounts of color from about 3500' to 5000', spotty above there.
Manning Camp Trail
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Grass Shack from Loma Alta
Saguaros were in full bloom, the Arizona Rainbow cacti near the campsite looked like they will be blooming in the next few weeks.

Made a how-to video on backpacking in SNP:
Manning Camp Trail
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Rincon Loop
Wanting to return to the Rincons since last fall, today was to be a great hike in the main body of the range, though without the Mica MT area. I was really pleased that my car got me to the four wheel drive trailhead, as I took it up the 2 track and started from there, instead of lower down. This gave me more time higher up, and I was able to visit Manning Camp, as a result. The 4WD road was less about clearance, than actual 4WD, and beefy tires would make a difference. However, a fictional AWD civic never would have made it.

The hike was better than expected and I was up in the pines in under 3 hours. I really just hiked through the Deer Head fire area and was less impressed with it than I hoped. This is no central Gila Wilderness. Most of the affects seem to be top killing brush and oaks, and needle cast consumption, but there was less grass than hoped for. I did hike up a ridge (not GPSed) and look at some old growth pines, still with some grass under them. I found the area around Manning Camp to be highly reminiscent of some of the low spots in the WOR, specifically around the nice camping spot with the massive pines. This is because it is almost all pine litter, little grass, and a dense stand of tall poles, with some larger orange barkers, but nothing characteristic of the way it would have been 120 years ago.

The Fire Loop is one of the nicer areas, and the granite domes are fun to look at, and climb on if you chose. In that regard, the Rincons have a Yosemite feel to them. Manning Camp itself is OK, but it just feels like a NPS camp area, nothing that special, save for the water and weather station. The Manning Camp trail south of the camp does have great canyons, falling water, and westward views to the Tucson Mountains. The Devil's Bathtub trail and area is really nice, and if flowing when warm might be a nice place to hangout, but I expect it is dry when warm. Heartbreak Ridge has great views, and as always looking east is fantastic.

With the current appearance of the east slopes, the species composition, and the fire affects, I would almost prefer it had not burned, since the oaks and other brush will coppice, some younger pines were killed, a lot of soil will and has eroded post fire, and it isn't going to return to pine, or mixed oaks over grass anytime soon. The grassy and pine covered areas do look better, and at least fuel loads are reduced. Still, the top of the mountain would benefit from something it will never get: mechanical thinning. The current composition of this area seems to have been influenced by (the Manning's?) grazing a lot more than Mica Mountain proper, but there appears to be slightly more soil here, too.

Overall, a great hike, my longest of the year, and with some serious AEG. It was nice down low, and cool, but tolerable while constantly switching between a sweater and t-shirt up higher. It was also breezy, but that created some lenticular clouds. I think it is still early in the higher terrain, as despite the above normal temps, it is still only late March, and there were fewer bird calls than expected. I did see some mountain quail, I think, or some other birds with flight sounds like a quail. Most of the life is still below 6,000'.
Manning Camp Trail
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Spud Rock Camp/Manning Camp Lollipop
Had a fantastic time on our first Rincons trip!

Saturday -- Got to Turkey Creek Trailhead at 5:30. Parked the Matrix, which did okay on the dirt roads, and said hi to the campers who had set up their compound at the th. We geared up, making sure we had packed all of our water for the dry camp at Spud Rock, and headed out on the trail around 6 to start the uphill climb. The morning light was fabulous and we made good time to the forest service trailhead at 1.5 miles, and then to the National Park border at 3 miles, and then the trail register. Then the real climbing started. We took our time heading up the exposed slopes, and made it to Mud Hole, which is nicely shaded, around 9:30am. The spring was dribbling a bit and there is a small pool that is mostly clogged with water plants. After fueling up, we continued up the slopes, gradually getting into cooler temps and piney woods. We arrived at Spud Rock Camp at around 1:30 and took a moment to locate the campsites and find the perfect set of trees for setting up both of our hammocks under one tarp, then quickly set up camp. Of course, nap time was soon to follow, but I couldn't sleep, so I took a walk around the campsites and checked out the spring, which was dry. We had set up at campsite #1, and it turned out to be closest to the toilets. Sites 2 and 3 were a bit further down slope and tucked in amongst large boulders. If we hadn't been so tired, I would have moved camp to one of those. I got back to camp and we made dinner, played some cards, and fell asleep by 7:30pm.

Sunday -- Got up bright and early. We were skimping on water, so we skipped coffee and had our breakfast that used the least water, Texas scramble breakfast burritos, yum! We quickly packed up camp and started up the Switchback Trail around 7:30am, where I almost stepped on the first rattlesnake of our trip. He was easily bypassed, and we made our way along the trails, settling in to Manning Camp around 9am. The cabin was deserted, so we got to work filtering water, setting up camp and checking out the surroundings. Around noon, we decided to try to explore some of the trails around Mica Mountain, even though the clouds had been forming since we had arrived at camp. Well, we got about half a mile down the trail before being pelted by quite large amounts of hail and then the lightning started. So, we turned around and ran back to camp, so at least we got that exercise in :) We waited out the storm and then spent the rest of the day around camp and scrambling down the nearby stream. We found some great spots with pools and small waterfalls to enjoy. We found some boulders a bit south of camp that have a good view of Rincon Peak, so we decided to cook and eat dinner there, and it was perfect. We saw our only other person as the day ended. He had come up from Douglas Springs and was pretty wiped out, so there wasn't much socializing.

Monday -- Tried to get up early... we are so bad at that. Cooked up a big breakfast to super-fuel up, and managed to hit the trail around 7am. We were feeling pretty good, so kept up a good pace. We passed Devil's Bathtub and it was running enough to have a nice falls. We also passed through several park areas that made us wish we could stay. Soon we got to the intersection with the East Slope Trail and followed it down to Turkey Creek Trail. The East Slope Trail actually provided me with another rattlesnake stepping opportunity :o , this one was a much closer call and I"m afraid I upset the poor snake. So, we quickly went our separate ways. Whew! As we dropped elevation, the temps got warmer of course, and we started moving slower. We eventually passed through a burnt area that I believe might have been the Fox Fire that happened back in June. The end of our hike came at 12pm, topped off with a free beer from the campers.

What a fun trip! We definitely need to get back up there and check out some more of the trails. I'm thinking in the Spring, when the water sources are more likely to be reliable.
Manning Camp Trail
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After a 3 week layoff, the Boys from the Hood were back at it. This is another passage of the AZT, where the "Published" Trailheads make absolutely no sense. For day hikers, add 4.6 miles to the published distance. 2.3 miles on each end.

Leaving the house at 3a, we started hiking a bit after 6am. This was only because Father Dave and and his wife had placed a car at the north TH the day before, saving us 1 hour and 45 minutes in Shuttle set up time the day of the hike!! Thanks Dave and Theresa!

This hike starts out pretty tame from the Alta Loma TH until the climb starts 4 miles in. From there it's around 5000' in 10 miles to Manning Camp. This was the week for the Bioblitz'ers. We passed 3 or so groups on the trail around Grass Shack campground, which was one of their bases. The main base, where we took lunch, was at Manning Camp. We relaxed in the shade, ate some lunch, and refilled our water supplies.

Dave and Joe have already mentioned the wrong turn we took that cost us .75 miles or so. This was the only area that was poorly signed (At least for the AZT).

After a short side trip to Mica Mountain to view the area of the Former Lookout, we continued down the trail to my favorite section. You leave a dense forest and enter a meadow with scattered trees 7,500' or so up. the 180 degree views West, North, and East are to die for. It's like being in heaven (I can only imagine).

We finished this hike on Reddington Road, a shade over 12 hours after we started. We started just after first light, and finished just before dark. In my opinion, perfect use of the available daylight hours!

In addition to the Springs reported, there was filterable water in an intermittent stream at the 10 mile mark, and plenty of water in the stream south of Manning Camp, and at Manning Camp.

Thanks again Dave and Theresa for planting a car the day before, Denny for getting us to Tucson, and Nick for the cushy ride to the beginning of the hike.

AZT Status
Passages Completed -- 34
Passages Remaining -- 9
Miles Completed -- 640.0
Miles Remaining -- 172.1

Permit $$

Saguaro National Park
2019 $20 vehicle, $15 motorcycle or $10 for any individual on foot or bicycle - the receipt is valid for 7 days Fees

Map Drive
Connector trail - Not Applicable

To hike
Access from Devil's Bathtub trail at the eastern end. the junction with the Tanque Verde ridge trail and Douglas Springs Trail about half way or Madrona Ranger station on the West
page created by writelots on Sep 12 2008 9:46 am
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