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Brown Mountain Ridgeline, AZ

no permit
58 32 0
Guide 32 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Tucson W
2.7 of 5 by 7
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 836 feet
Elevation Gain 260 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2
Kokopelli Seeds 6.3
Interest Peak
Backpack No
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
1  2019-02-05 fricknaley
7  2018-12-27
Brown Mountain Ridgeline Loop
8  2018-10-11 rwstorm
13  2018-02-17 rwstorm
6  2015-11-05 rwstorm
1  2009-03-11 Bearpaw
4  2008-10-31 keepmoving
8  2008-09-23 domromer
Page 1,  2
Author Lizard
author avatar Guides 15
Routes 0
Photos 403
Trips 17 map ( 75 miles )
Age 39 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb → 8 AM
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:10am - 6:28pm
2 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Sonoran Desert Sampler
by Lizard

Brown Mountain is the aptly-named peak that dominates views from the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. The trail that follows its ridgeline is not particularly scenic or challenging, in comparison to other Tucson area hikes. However, it does have its charms. Like most ridgeline hikes, it offers good views and nice spots to watch the sunset. This trail also offers a good sampling of Sonoran Desert flora and fauna. You may see, as I did, a coyote run across the road, or be able to look down on the speckled back of a hawk as it glides on currents of air below you.

To the south of the parking area, look across the drainage to locate a trail heading up Brown Mountain. Drop down across the drainage and follow this trail up. It switchbacks gently up the peak, passing a trail sign indicating this trail goes to the Gilbert Ray campground. It climbs gently higher, traversing around under the actual summit of Brown Mountain. You can scramble up to the top of this peak, but better views can be found further south simply by following the trail.

The trail drops into a saddle, then climbs gently again up the second peak on the ridgeline. You will quickly gain the shoulder of this peak, and then on the southwest side of the peak the trail climbs out onto the actual ridgeline. The next 3/4 mile is the best of this hike. As the trail follows the ridgeline, you are treated to great views of Golden Gate Mountain and Wasson Peak, Saguaro National Park West, Avra Valley, and Baboquivari and Kitt Peaks off in the distance. Near the end of the ridgeline, the trail passes a flat bench. This flat area is a great spot to sit and watch the sun sink behind the far off mountains.

The trail drops quickly off the mountain and into a drainage. In this drainage you meet a junction with a trail heading to Gilbert Ray Campground, where you will want to bear left on the trail signed "Cougar Trail." This trail heads across the desert, weaving among typical Sonoran Desert fauna like saguaros, prickly pears and creosote. Bear left at all unmarked junctions, and you will eventually reach paved Kinney Road.

Cross this road and go through the gate. Turn left here, onto a wide dirt road that parallels the paved road. This road will lead you off into the desert to meet an access road underneath some power lines. Turn left onto this access road, and follow it along under the buzzing powerlines. After climbing to the top of a low ridge, you will gain a view of a wash filled with construction debris and the Desert Museum beyond. Drop down to this wash, where you will turn left, away from the power lines, and head south towards Kinney Road. Once you reach the road, turn right and follow it a short distance to the entrance to Juan Santa Cruz Picnic Grounds.

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Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

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

2003-07-06 Lizard
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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
Brown Mountain Ridgeline
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Tucson Mountains Tuesday Two-fer Mark Two
I have not been up Wasson in a few months and I had been eyeing this one the last time I had, albeit in February...I saw BobP hit up quite a few peaks in Utah last week, so I had to try and keep up with a good dose of low desert fun. :D Got to the trailhead a bit before 3 for the start. Did Peak 4236 basically just like the description, up King's Canyon to the no-name trail, up that to just about the Sweetwater Saddle. I took off up a drainage to the peak, a little bit of loose scree, but better than some of my recent off-trial escapades. Sad to say, the summit log seems to have disappeared, I spent a few minutes searching around to no avail. Back down to the trail, and then over onto King's Canyon again. The whole way down I kept thinking, Brown Mountain is right the time I got back to the van I had decided to get in a second peak. Made the quick drive down to the Juan Santa Cruz picnic area and started off again. I popped a couple Nuun tablets in my cup for a pickup, boy was I glad I did. I drank it down quick at the start of the trail, and within about 5 minutes I had an almost Popeye-spinach interaction, I felt a huge burst of energy! Managed to make it to the top without a stop, took a quick look around and then back to the van. Saw a coyote on the road on my way out of the picnic area. Hit up the DQ in Casa Grande on the way home for a tasty chocolate dip cone. Good times!
Brown Mountain Ridgeline
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Michelle, my parents, Sierra and I had an exceptional hike along the Brown Mountain Ridgeline today. I forgot how nice this little trail is. Perfect hike for a kid in a pack. Great views of Golden Gate Mountain and the west side of the Tucson Mountain Ridgeline.

Perfect weather today.
Brown Mountain Ridgeline
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I needed an easy spot to take my fiance for her first desert hike and this fit the bill. Not a whole lot to this one, a little up and down over the ridge line, some cholla and a so-so view. Also, you could hear traffic off Kinney road the whole time. If I was alone I wouldn't have taken this trail but it served it's purpose. With so many more interesting/challenging hikes in the area I probably won't be back to Brown Mountain.
Brown Mountain Ridgeline
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All in all, this was an enjoyable hike. There are several advantages and disadvantages. It is literally right next to the desert museum. You could visit the museum and have your lunch to, because there is a nice picnic area where the trailhead starts. This hike offers nice views, which would especially be nice at sunset. It is not a difficult hike, and I think almost anybody would enjoy it. There are a couple of negatives. I know the listing shows that you can ride a mountain bike. This is true for about three-quarters of this hike. The remaining portion of this hike would be not fun. It would involve steps, sharp switchbacks coming down Brown Mountain towards Gilbert Ray Camp Ground. And there were alot of loose small rocks in the trail, that would make it difficult. I guess if you were a professional mountain biker it would be your cup of tea. But from me being a modest rider, it would likely put me in the hospital. Also one drawback that I noticed was the road noise leading to the desert museum. This is a high traffic area that produces quite a bit of road noise while on top of the peaks. The road noise is not too bad once you get on the flats and the second half of the hike. All in all I was glad to do this hike.

Permit $$

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
Take Speedway Blvd. west out of Tucson and over Gates Pass. Keep heading west until this road deadends at Kinney Road. Take a right onto Kinney, and follow it 2.3 miles to the Juan Santa Cruz Picnic Grounds. The trailhead, which is unmarked, is found at the southernmost corner of the loop road through the picnic grounds.
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