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Ladybug Trail #329, AZ

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Guide 28 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Safford
3.8 of 5 by 5
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 8,495 feet
Elevation Gain 3,541 feet
Accumulated Gain 3,925 feet
Avg Time One Way 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 19.08
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
16  2019-07-09
Ladybug Trail #329
2  2018-09-17 gummo
8  2015-07-26
Ladybug Peak 8780
22  2014-05-21 TWA
22  2014-02-02 friendofThunderg
21  2014-02-01 SkyIslander18
13  2012-09-12
Jacobson Canyon
8  2012-05-24
Ladybug Peak 8780
Page 1,  2
Author PrestonSands
author avatar Guides 168
Routes 149
Photos 5,534
Trips 1,317 map ( 6,690 miles )
Age 42 Male Gender
Location Oro Valley, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   May, Jun, Sep, Oct → 8 AM
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:03am - 6:24pm
Official Route
3 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Lair of the bear
by PrestonSands

Likely In-Season!
The Ladybug Trail follows a long ridge from Ladybug Peak to the floor of Jacobson Canyon along the Swift Trail. Starting out in a forest of white and douglas fir trees, and ending in scrub oak slopes, the trail drops nearly 3600 feet in six miles. I recommend hiking from the top to the bottom, if you are able to arrange a shuttle vehicle to be there. This description describes a one-way, top to bottom hike. Remember to at least double the hike time if you decide to do this as a round trip hike.

Beginning at Ladybug Saddle along the Swift Trail, begin hiking up the Bear Canyon Trail #299 as it climbs the western ridge of Ladybug Peak. At about the half mile point, there is a short spur trail taking off to your right that leads to the top of Ladybug Peak. The short trip to the top of the peak is worth doing if you have time. Beyond the turnoff for the peak, hike another tenth of a mile down the Bear Canyon Trail through the thick fir trees, and you will arrive at the junction with the Ladybug Trail itself.

Turn left onto the Ladybug Trail, and follow it down the ridge through the cool forest. As you descend down to the 8359' peak, views of the rugged topography and thickly forested mountainsides may make you forget that you're in Arizona. The trail passes right by the base of the rocky cliffs of the 8359' peak, before descending a series of rocky switchbacks. After passing one saddle, the Ladybug Trail meets the Turkey Flat Trail a short distance later in a second saddle. Beyond the junction with the Turkey Flat Trail, the Ladybug Trail passes below the agave clad, granite cliffs of peak 7665'. The trail then reenters the forest, and begins a 600' drop through a forest of ponderosa pine and gambel oak. Now the trail flattens out, and is surrounded by manzanita thickets and alligator junipers. Looking down Veach Canyon, there are some views of the desert floor in the distance.

The forest service mentions that the area this trail passes through seems to be very popular with black bears. It was in this area that we began noticing a lot of fresh bear scat. Any tracks that there may have been had been erased by the recent rain, though. My bear bell and I were now given the lead of our little group, as we pressed on through the rain soaked summer grasses.

After a mile on brushy Veach Ridge, the Ladybug Trail begins a long, final descent to the bottom of Jacobson Canyon. The vegetation changes to oak trees, brush, cacti, and occasional ponderosas during the 1600 foot drop. There are some great views during the descent: the long ridges of the Pinaleno Mountains, the town of Safford, Angle Orchard, and the twisty Swift Trail. At the bottom of this long hill, the trail crosses Jacobson Creek, where I was surprised to see several maple trees growing amongst the sycamores and oaks, in a pleasant riparian area. Once across the creek, the Ladybug Trail crosses an irrigation ditch, then follows a little ridge for a short distance before ending at forest road 4515, near Angle Orchard.

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2006-09-06 PrestonSands
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Coronado FS Details
This trail gets its unique name from the fact that it starts near Ladybug Peak, a place where large numbers of these small, orange-colored, black-spotted beetles congregate at various times of the year. In addition to this interesting feature, Ladybug Trail has a number of other notable aspects which make it well worth a visit. For one thing, it's a good place to see black bear sign or even to catch a glimpse of one of these impressive animals. Virtually all of the upper slopes of the Pinale'os are excellent bear country, serving as home to one of the most dense concentrations of black bears to be found in North America. The area this particular trail traverses, however, seems to be especially attractive to them. If that makes you a little uneasy, remember that black bears are shy and not at all as aggressive as their larger grizzly cousins. Still, they deserve your respect.

The upper trailhead is located in stands of mixed conifers from which the setting changes gradually to oak woodland and eventually to manzanita and desert scrub as the trail drops into Jacobson Canyon at its lower end. Most people choose to travel the trail in this downhill direction because it is quite steep. A good reason to choose to go the other way, however, is if the upper trailhead is snowed in after a winter storm. Scenery along Ladybug Trail includes good overlooks of Jacobson Canyon and views of the Swift Trail (AZ 366) as it snakes its way up the mountain. In the distance, the Gila Mountains and Gila Valley provide a broad and scenic backdrop.

Attractions: Canyon views and broad panoramas, Bear country, Ladybug country & Easy access

Access: From Safford drive south 8 miles on US 191 to the Swift Trail (AZ 366). Turn right (southwest) onto AZ 366 and drive about 17 miles to Ladybug Saddle. From the trailhead at the parking area on the left side of the road follow the Bear Canyon Trail #299 to the Ladybug Trail.

Notes: There is no water along this trail.

Turkey Flat Trail #330 provides access to the Ladybug Trail from the Turkey Flat summer homes area (1 mile).

Before using this trail, call the Safford Ranger District for current trail conditions which can vary with season, weather and maintenance status.

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 15 deeper Triplog Reviews
Ladybug Trail #329
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Fall color hunt along the Swift Trail was the main focus for this trip.
Parked at Twilight and hiked up the Swift Trail switchbacks to Ladybug Saddle. Lots of color along the way, but about half of it is on the ground already, I was a little surprised at this early fall.
From Ladybug Saddle I took the trail up to Ladybug Peak. Arrived on top to find that the new ammo box register I placed up there after the Frye fire a few months ago was missing. WTF ..... why do people do this pumpkin?
On the way back down I stewed for a while about the box missing as I took the Ladybug Trail down to Turkey Flat. Ladybug trail was great! I rested for a bit on a rocky overlook for coffee, snickers & the views down before completing the trail down back on to the Swift Trail. A short walk along the road pass the cabins brought me back to Twilight completing the loop.
Except for discovering that my register box was missing, I enjoyed my morning on the mountain. The colors were great, the peak and trails were great and the weather was cold ..... I love the cold!
Ladybug Trail #329
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Clockwise Loop.
Turkey Flat TH up to get it started.
Hung a right onto the Ladybug Trail.
Off-trail side trip up to Mount Baldy Peak, flipped a step boulder and lost some shin skin, but the amazing view down on Turkey Flat was worth it!
Ladybug Peak still holding plenty of ladybugs, long time register box was missing :(
Took the Swift Trail switch-backs down to complete the loop.

Mountain + AddSanz = :D
Ladybug Trail #329
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First up, Ladybug Peak from Ladybug Saddle. The ammo box register is gone, has been replaced with a round tin located a little lower down the peak. Ladybugs? I nailed it on this trip! Thousands x thousands of them covering the rocky peak. I was pulling them out of my hair, clothes & gear for the next 1/4 mile back down (that's a cool thing).

Second up, Bear Canyon down to Dutch Henry. Dutch Henry trail was cleared a few years ago, but once again has become a mess to get down. Only made it a 1/2 mile down before it became too much work to enjoy.

Third up, climbed back up to the Bear Canyon trail and took it down a ways off the south end of the mountain. Great views as always with monsoon storms in the distance moving in, was time to get back on the other side before they hit.

Last up, a short trip down the Ladybug Trail for the northern valley views before heading back up and down to Ladybug Saddle.

I ended with a short drive up the Swift Trail for sunset at the Arrow Tree overlook. Watched the sun go down and the storms move off the mountain never hitting the top. Not much on the ground for wildlife, but I saw and heard it all in the trees and sky today! Spotted owls, vultures & squirrels to name a few.
Another day well spent on Graham.
Ladybug Trail #329
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I first enjoyed an hour of R & R at Noon Creek getting ready for my hike.
Then a short drive up the ST to Angle Orchard and hiked the lower Ladybug Trail up to the Veach Ridge/Canyon overlook.
Played tag with a doe along the switchbacks on the way up!
Always great scenic views from anywhere along this trail.
Made it back down just as a small storm cell started producing strikes in the area I was.
Both Noon & Jacobson Creek are barely flowing ..... hope it rains good up the soon!
Stopped at the Coronado sign for the sunset that never came, but was rewarded with 15 minutes of watching 2 hawks ride the strong winds that came in, Amazing!!!
Ladybug Trail #329
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Projected forecast for today was Partly cloudy skies with a 0% chance of precipitation, I awoke this morning to see the Pinalenos with a different plan of being completely socked in. I've had lower Ladybug planned for a week, so I added extra rain gear to the pack and headed up into the Graham's own classic, unpredictable, crazy weather patterns. What a hike to start off February with! It rained on me, hailed on me, snowed on me & and at one point gatrillions of little styrofoam balls were falling from the sky turning the entire trail white. Then the sun would come out, produce a rainbow, then get dark again as the clouds would swirl back around and do it all over again throughout the entire afternoon. At the 6500 ft mark, I was hiking through the clouds ..... it was crazy beautiful! I turned around at the half way point, made it back down to the start just before sunset with wet feet, cold hands & a most memorable Ladybug trip now in the noggin. I actually love hiking in bad weather & thoroughly enjoyed this unexpected weather day!
Ladybug Trail #329
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Decided for this afternoons adventure to just combine a little bit of a few of the lower Graham mountain trails. Started at Johns Dam and made a real nice loop by heading up Jacobson Canyon for a mile, then off-trail up to the Swift Trail and took it back down & up Cyclone Hill and back to Johns Dam to complete the loop. Then a short drive up the road to Angle Orchard and a short walk down the Ladybug Trail to check the creek flow there before jumping on the out-n-back Adams Flat Trail. Stopped to swim in 3 different pools along the way and just had a real nice time on all of the trails! Wildlife spotted this afternoon was a Ring-necked snake, a water turtle (didn't know Jacobson creek had these) and one of Angle Orchards bird dogs that ran along & in front of my truck guiding me down to the orchard! :D
Ladybug Trail #329
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Short afternoon hike up the lower Ladybug Trail. Reached the first saddle and off-trailed up to peak 6255 for the first time, then back down. Lots of fresh bear poo on the upper portion along with some big Leding's hedgehogs. Would have been a perfect hike except for a couple of hounds that barked the entire time down below at Angle Orchard ..... SHUT UP Already :--:
Ladybug Trail #329
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A rare early morning start to a hike for me, but I needed to start early and hike off some energy (not nervous) before my Steelers playoff game this afternoon. I decided to hit up the lower half of the Ladybug Trail and took it up to the 3.5 mile mark before turning around. Veach Ridge/Canyon view was the main goal for this trip today and it didn't disappoint! Great trail, great views and 50 deg temps with a little snow mixed in on the northern portion made for a pumpkin nice morning!
Ladybug Trail #329
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Me: "I need some exercise". My wife: "You've been exercising by spreading gravel all day." Me: "Yeah, but I mean fun exercise."

I started at Angle Orchard at 6 pm, and hiked up the surprisingly dry trail. "Where's the snow?" It was up higher and melting quick. Turned around a little below point 6910' after sunset, and hiked back in the chilly pine-scented air. Finished hiking under moonlight. I love evening hikes: soft lighting, long shadows, and no need for sunscreen.
Ladybug Trail #329
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Finally! After 30 years of hiking the upper half of this trail, I decided today was the day to see the whole thing from top to bottom. Me & Tyler set up a shuttle leaving my truck at Angle Orchard and driving up to Ladybug Saddle. At the TH we had 2 does come out of the forest and walk right up within 10 yards of us before we were even on the trail, a nice start to the trip! First hiked up to Ladybug Peak for the view before heading back down and getting on the actual trail. The hike down through the forest to the Turkey Flat saddle was as nice as always, but a little risky at some spots due to the snow. From the saddle on was all new trail to me and I thoroughly enjoyed it as much as the upper half. The new views of Veach Canyon & Ridge were awesome as we rounded the mountain back to the north and descended down into Jacobson Canyon. Spent a little rest time at Jacobson creek before hiking out and to my truck.

This trail is in excellent shape and has not been damaged by fire & the bark beetle like so many of the Pinaleno trails are!

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 hike
From Safford, head south on U.S. highway 191. Turn west onto state highway 366 (Swift Trail).

TO LADYBUG SADDLE (UPPER END): Follow highway 366 approximately 16.75 miles to the Ladybug Saddle trailhead (there is a large paved pull-off here). A 0.5 mile hike (included in total distance) on the Bear Canyon Trail will take you to the Ladybug Trail.

TO LADYBUG TRAILHEAD (LOWER END): Follow highway 366 approximately 7.5 miles to Angle Orchard/Ladybug Trailhead road (forest road 4515). Follow forest service (dirt) road 4515 about 0.5 mile to the Ladybug Trail sign.
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