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Atascosa Lookout Trail #100, AZ

Guide 33 Triplogs  1 Topic
  3.7 of 5 
AZ > Tucson > Ruby
358 33 1
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,700 feet
Elevation Gain 1,559 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,730 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 13.65
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1  2022-01-03 freewilley
5  2020-02-26 JuanJaimeiii
10  2020-01-25
Atascosa Lookout and Peak
18  2018-07-08 DarthStiller
30  2018-06-16 RedRoxx44
2  2018-03-24 JuanJaimeiii
4  2018-03-24 johnlp
7  2017-09-27 JuanJaimeiii
Page 1,  2,  3,  4
Author Ksorensen
author avatar Guides 8
Routes 0
Photos 0
Trips 9 map ( 73 miles )
Age 51 Female Gender
Location Mesa, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred Oct, Nov, Dec, Mar → 9 AM
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  5:36am - 7:25pm
Official Route
5 Alternative

Scenic little hike on the border
by Ksorensen

Atascosa Peak trail is a fun and interesting trail and worth doing if you happen to be in the border area near Nogales or Rio Rico. With all the weirdness going on around the border region Atascosa Peak's added attraction is that it is a safe place to hike in the area as the trail is well-traveled by tourists and locals alike, especially on weekends.

The trail begins in a high desert transition zone (mostly agaves), climbs steeply at first, levels off, and eventually winds up through some fairly rugged terrain to the fire lookout post where there are some stunted trees such as juniper and pinon. The view is really pretty good, and on a clear day, you can see Sycamore Canyon and far away into Mexico. The fire lookout makes a comfortable place to sit, relax, and enjoy the view of the surrounding mountains and canyons. The fire lookout itself is also interesting because it was apparently staffed for decades by "The Lone Dane," a Danish immigrant who was the forlorn lookout on Atascosa Peak. The day we hiked the peak the Lone Dane's daughter happened to be there paying homage to her father. She gave us the whole long story of The Lone Dane's move later in life from green Denmark to desert Arizona, his marriage to a young woman from Central Mexico, and his lonely years staffing the lookout. It's a nice place with a good view, definitely charming enough for an afternoon, but I really can't imagine spending decades up there. Anyway, we did the hike in mid-March and it was a little too warm, although that may have just been unlucky.

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2003-09-15 Ksorensen
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  • 100 Classic Hikes - 2007
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    100 Classic Hikes - 2007

Coronado FS Details
This trail's appearance on most maps as an insignificant, isolated squiggle leading to an abandoned lookout is truly deceptive. As far as trails are concerned, it may be one of the best kept secrets in southeastern Arizona. Some who have come here describe the views from this soaring desert butte as enchanting. Others have said that Atascosa Peak rises high enough above the surrounding landscape to provide a panorama, but not so high that the landmarks making up that view fade into insignificance. That may be the secret of this spectacular little stroll into the sky above the buttes, bluffs and canyons that lie just north of Arizona's border with Mexico.

The trail itself climbs steadily, even steeply in places, but neither so long nor so relentlessly that it is exhausting. The view expands steadily as the trail switchbacks higher, first parading past nearby buttes and cliffs that thrust above grassy foothills, then providing magnificent panoramas that stretch to distant horizons. Trailside vegetation is stunted by the desert conditions and puts little between you and the sublime views. Castle Rock, Montana Peak, the spires and cliffs of Sycamore Canyon, the corduroy cai? 1/2 oncitos around Nogales catch your eye to the south. To the west, there is Baboquivari Peak, sacred to the Tohono O'Odham, and the white buildings of famous Kitt Peak Observatory. The Santa Ritas and Huachucas are just a few of the landmarks visible to the east. On a clear day, you can see the Pii? 1/2 acates of Mexico and, some say, even the glint of the Sea of Cortez. A final flurry of switchbacks takes you to the peak's summit. Take lunch and stay awhile.
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
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To Atascosa Trailhead
About 3 miles north of Nogales go west on the Pena Blanca - Ruby exit. Your heading out to Pena Blanca Lake. Go about 7 miles ( not sure on this distance ) to FR39. Hang a left on FR39 and follow this gravel road 4.8 miles to a large dirt parking area. The trailhead is marked by a parking area turnout on the south side of the road. This is easy to miss, so watch closely.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 184 mi - about 3 hours 5 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 74.2 mi - about 1 hour 30 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 327 mi - about 5 hours 11 mins
90+° 8am - 6pm kills

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