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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Canada del Oro Trail #4, AZ

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Guide 27 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Tucson N
4.2 of 5 by 6
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 7.15 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,890 feet
Elevation Gain 3,186 feet
Accumulated Gain 3,283 feet
Avg Time One Way 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 18.09
Backpack Possible & Connecting
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
15  2015-09-12
Mount Lemmon from Catalina State Park
15  2015-07-25
Red Ridge and Canada del Oro Loop
18  2015-07-25
Red Ridge and Canada del Oro Loop
31  2013-09-11
Red Ridge and Canada del Oro Loop
36  2013-07-27
Red Ridge and Canada del Oro Loop
17  2013-05-22
Oracle Ridge Canada Del Oro Mount Lemmon Loop
11  2012-10-29 nicolelee
22  2012-05-11
Meadow Trail #5A
Page 1,  2
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jul, Jun, Aug, Sep → Early
Seasons   Spring to Summer
Sun  6:11am - 6:20pm
Official Route
8 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby

Likely In-Season!
This old trail follows the drainage of the Canada del Oro, or Canyon of Gold, down the north slopes of Mt. Lemmon toward the town of Oracle. Besides being the site of a legendary lost gold mine, this canyon seems a bit lost itself. Down the slopes of Mt. Lemmon it flows almost due north toward Oracle, but after the canada breaks out onto the broad flat valley at the mountain's base, it turns south and heads towards Tucson.

The usual way of accessing this trail is via a maintenance road along the underground powerline which supplies electricity to the ski resort and observatory at the top of Mt. Lemmon. The trail leaves the powerline right-of-way in the vicinity of Shovel Spring and drops into the West Fork of the Canada del Oro. Once it reaches the broad canyon floor, the trail follows the gentle gradient of the streambed in the shade of the stately old sycamores and cottonwoods. Samaniego Ridge to the west and the Reef of Rocks to the east form the rims of the canyon and frame the view of the canyon's lower reaches and the Black Hills north of Oracle.

Where the east fork of the canyon joins the west, the Red Ridge Trail #2 branches off towards an old outpost named Catalina Camp. A similar group of mining digs and an old adobe outbuilding are located along the canyon floor at Coronado Camp. A common destination for travelers along this trail is the 4-wheel drive road (FR 736) which drops down into the canyon from Charoleau Gap. Some hikers continue all the way to the Burney Mines area.

Though there is ample evidence of human activity here, this area in some ways is more remote than the wilderness nearer to Tucson. Fewer trails lead into it and fewer people visit it.

Attractions: Big canyon, sycamores and cottonwoods, old mines and shacks, views to the north and mountain to desert diversity.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

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

2008-02-25 HAZ_Hikebot
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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
Canada del Oro Trail #4
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Oracle Ridge/Canada del Oro Loop
I wanted to hike CDO again, but with a few changes from the Red Ridge loop we did last year. We travelled down Oracle Ridge and also started from the top of Lemmon, taking care of Aspen Draw and the road at the beginning.

Oracle Ridge was great in the cool morning weather. Catalina Camp is just as amusing a trip as I remember it being last year. There was water near the trail from the CC/RR junction all the way to the homestretch of the CDO trail. Since I finally remembered to bring a filter, we were able to refill our water a few times (I easily finished 4 liters and a big gatorade). Cooling down in the water made a big difference too.

Now for the whining: wear long pants. The trails are easy enough to follow, but my shins and knees got pretty torn up in the overgrowth - especially above 6k on CDO and in the burnt-out portions of Sutherland. That being said, CDO is gorgeous from all the recent rains and it was still worth the annoyance. There's a lot of climbing to do in the final miles of this hike, but my CO trip left my legs in good shape, so nearly all of my ranting was at the overgrown trails.
Canada del Oro Trail #4
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
Started a little before noon down the Red Ridge Trail. We took a little detour to the Catalina Camp, which I'd never visited (I took the liberty of tinkering with the mileage and AEG; hopefully that's kosher...). The lower sections of the loop were pretty warm, but since you don't have to climb much, it wasn't too bad.

The CDO trail is terrific. If it was more easily accessible, it would be as popular as any trail in southern AZ. It must be amazing to hike this in autumn. The route finding is easy for the most part. It disappeared a few times around 3-5 miles up the canyon, but the path-of-least-resistance put us back on the trail each of those times. A couple places before the switchbacks are pretty overgrown. The final climb out of the canyon to the Samaniego Ridge trail is really fun ;)

Aspen Draw Trail at sunset (with no mountain bikers) was a great way to end this hike.

This is a tough hike for July. I brought over a gallon and a half of water and Gatorade, and that wound up being just enough. 2 gallons and/or a purification system would probably be smart in this heat.
Canada del Oro Trail #4
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Meadow/Mount Lemmon/Sutherland/Samaniego/CDO Shortcut to the main attraction of the day the Canada del Oro Trail - a new one for both me and my friend/hiking partner Lance! From the triplogs and description here and Sirena's blog post on the area - ... oro-trail/ - we suspected it would be pretty interesting, but in person it was truly spectacular - miles of running water, great birds, bear scat, big trees, ferns, lovely trail, interesting views of the ridges above... It does not seem like this trail gets too much use but there is usually a clear path, rarely overgrown at all, and cairns. We hiked out via FR 736 and saw 6-7 different vehicles along the road (it was Saturday) - the road provides some nice views as well although as we approached Saddlebrook and crossed the Canada del Oro for the last time we were ready to be out of the heat! Great Hike!! Pictures: ... 533766318/
Canada del Oro Trail #4
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
Canada del Oro/Samaniego Ridge
Dave is the man for setting this up!

After a super fun ride out to the CDO trailhead by a couple of very nice gentlemen we set sail to hike 2 of the elusive few trails left for me in the Catalinas. As soon as we hit the trail we got clucked at by a turkey though we never saw it. The hike up CDO was way more pleasant than I thought it would be. There was nice water running nearly the whole way and some areas of fantastic oak forest. was sucking wind by the top.

we hiked samaniego up to it's junction with sutherland so that we could hike the entirety of samaniego ridge down. This trail was great as well and exactly as i thought it would be, except the views were even better. at times they were jaw dropping, for me at least, as i have a special fondness for the wilder backside trails.

overall the trails were in way better shape than i would have ever imagined for backside trails. must have been some serious work put in to both and i hope hope hope they stay this way :pray:

saw more deer than i could count. 2 rattlers and heard but didn't see a gobbler

was sick going in to this one and a little worried about how i'd do. did fine on the hike though slower than normal on the ascent. paid the price when i got home though as the chills, cough and fever said "my turn"..oh well i'd do it again in a heartbeat

thanks again Dave for setting this up :worthy:
Canada del Oro Trail #4
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Wanted to take these 2 trails off my list for quite a while now...they didn't disappoint! Rugged and beautiful.

Had a friend who had a Rhino (and a friend of his with a new CanAm) ride Nick and I up the Gap Road all the way to the CDO Trailhead, a little of 9 miles. We took off from there on foot. As we reached this trailhead, we heard a wild turkey in the bushes but never could get an eye on him.

The first quarter mile of the CDO was a little sketchy there, had trouble finding it. Eventually we picked up on pretty good trail. A couple of spots that were a little sketchy but by and large much better than I expected the CDO to be in. Only a small part of it showed burn damage. Water in the CDO was still running fairly well.

The last mile or so of the CDO got a bit more steep, and we were feeling it. We took the CDO Shortcut Trail over to the Samaniego and hiked it all the way to the Sutherland Trail junction, then turned back toward Samaniego Peak. Made it the Samaniego Peak and tried to do the offtrail bushwhack to the peak, but it was covered in really nasty, thorny, knee-high bushes, and we saw the bushwhack time was going to take longer than we had time for, so we gave up on that effort.

We took the Samaniego Trail all the way to the Charouleau Gap. It was a little rougher trail in spots than I figured, a little hard to follow in a few spots but comparable mostly to the CDO. There was one spot where we were surprised to see cables attached to the side of the rock to hold onto since the trail was eroded and had a steep drop. We then hiked the Charouleau Gap road the 6+ miles out to the trailhead.

We saw several deer all day, mule deer and whitetails. We also saw a couple of small rattlesnakes on the Charouleau Gap road.
Canada del Oro Trail #4
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
Day 1: 15.4 Miles, On trail for 7 hours & 47 Minutes
Started on Meadow Trail at 12:44pm and worked my way down to the Samaniego Ridge Junction. I turned right at the junction and worked my way down the ridge for the first time. Enjoyed the great views of Cathedral Rock, The Window, and Pusch Ridge. I took a slight detour at the CDO Shortcut trail and hiked to CDO and back so I could cross it off my to do list. At Walnut Spring I took a short lunch break. After the spring, I attempted to get to the top of Samaniego Peak, but I started too far north and ended up getting cliffed out. I returned to the trail and considered making a second attempt at the peak, but the day was growing late and I wanted to set up camp that night on CDO, so I knew I didn't have enough time.

The trail after Samaniego Peak gets a little sketchy in a couple places. There is one section where it steeply switchbacks down the side of a ridge in some very loose soil. I ended up stepping in a particularly loose patch of soil, started a rock/dirt slide and slipped about 6 feet below the trail. I have no idea how mountain bikers manage to ride this trail without getting killed...

By the time I reached Charouleau Gap it was already 7:56pm and I was almost out of daylight. I was too stubborn to stop for the day, so I began the 3.5 mile trek along the jeep road to reach the CDO trail. I was hoping I would encounter someone friendly enough to let me hitch a ride to the trailhead, but didn't see a vehicle the entire time. By the time I made it to CDO it was completely dark out and I was navigating by flashlight. I didn't know how far I would have to travel on CDO to find a campsite and was ready to set up camp in the middle of the trail- but luckily there is a large campsite only a couple hundred feet from the trailhead.

Day 2: 10.7 Miles, On trail for 5 Hours & 56 Minutes
Despite being completely exhausted from the previous day, I only managed to get about 3 hours of sleep the whole night. As soon as it began to get light out, I ate breakfast and packed up my camp and was on trail at 5:45am. I knew it was going to be hot out, so I wanted to gain as much elevation as I could before the sun hit the canyon. I had some confusion just up trail from my campsite and followed an ATV trail across the creek, not noticing that the trail departed the ATV trail and continued to follow the east side of the creek. After some backtracking, I was able to correct my mistake and get back on the proper trail.

I had no idea how much water I would encounter along CDO, and was blown away that the trail followed a flowing creek for almost 5 hours! The area is so lush and green, with large trees that provide plenty of shade for much of the hike. The trail can be a little faint in areas due to all the leaves on the trail, but it generally sticks to the creek and is not too difficult to follow if you pay attention.

After leaving the creek, the trail goes through a burned area, then begins to switchback its way up to the CDO shortcut trail. The switchbacks provided excellent views down into the CDO and out towards Reef of Rock and Rice Peak. The rest of the hike was uneventful as the trail continued to gain elevation as it works its way back to the top of the mountain.

But wait, there's More!
I was so physically & mentally exhausted when I got back to the parking lot that I left my backpack on the ground next to my truck and drove away. I only realized my mistake when I got home and noticed my pack wasn't in my truck :doh: . I contacted the Sheriffs Dept and had the Mt Lemmon deputy check the parking lot for my backpack- but they couldn't locate it. I contacted the Palisades Ranger station and luckily a ranger showed up with my pack while I was on the phone with them :y: ! I drove back up the mountain and collected my pack from the ranger (with nothing missing) and drove back home again.

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 hike
Follow the Catalina Highway to the top. Just before the road comes to the Steward Observatory, it passes a parking lot on the left. Park here and continue down the Mt. Lemmon Trail #5 and the Sutherland Trail #6 to the Canada del Oro Trail junction. Access is also available via Charoleau Gap Road (4-wheel drive). Drive north from Tucson on AZ 89 (the Oracle Road) about 23 miles to Golder Ranch Road. (This intersection is marked by a traffic light). Turn east, travel about 1 mile, then turn north on Lago del Oro Road. Travel about 2 miles to a dirt road (FR 736) that turns east toward the riverbed. Follow this road left at a private property sign, through the river bed and up and over Samaniego Ridge.

Notes: The Catalina Highway is paved and suitable for passenger cars but may be snow covered in winter when chains or 4-wheel drive may be required.
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