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Guindani Trail, AZ

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Guide 21 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Tucson S
3.5 of 5 by 10
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 4.25 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,850 feet
Elevation Gain 1,250 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 10.5
Backpack TBD
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
24  2015-02-14 winotron
5  2012-12-01
Cottonwood Saddle
29  2012-09-19 ArizonaBob
11  2012-01-21
Cochise Stronghold Trail #279
15  2011-01-25 SkyIslander18
13  2010-03-14 The_Eagle
10  2009-09-16 PrestonSands
17  2008-11-28 PhilipMueller
Author fricknaley
author avatar Guides 93
Routes 383
Photos 3,724
Trips 2,743 map ( 18,146 miles )
Age 43 Male Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Nov, Apr, Feb → 8 AM
Seasons   Early Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  6:06am - 6:25pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Culture Nearby
Caves are for bats!
by fricknaley

I have always been interested in the Whetstone mountains as I've traveled down AZ-90 to Sierra Vista and the Huachucas. I finally quit messing around and did some research and found that there is at least one trail there. It's a nice short loop that actually starts in Kartchner Caverns State Park, but 99% is in Coronado National Forest.

Guindani trailhead starts in parking lot and immediately comes to gate marking national forest boundary. Shortly enough you come to signed intersection pointing to your right for the Guindani trail. Hang right and follow an old jeep road for a while. You soon enter Guindani canyon and wash and start climbing along it. This is a nice riparian corridor with plenty of surprisingly green trees along the way and birds testing out their pipes. Before long the jeep trail ends and trail continues on as a footpath crossing over the wash several times. You will eventually climb out of the wash/canyon and come to a signed intersection: Guindani to left and Cottonwood to right (not sure where that goes just yet).

Anyway hang left and the trail starts switchbacking up the southern sidewall of the canyon. This is the only tough part of the hike, but it's easily manageable enough. After climbing, passing through a couple gates and enjoying the ever improving scenery you kind of stumble upon a saddle quite suddenly. I did not know what to expect here and was very pleasantly surprised to find excellent views all around - especially the southwest portion of the range, which is very scenic. Nice spot to hang around for a bit and eat a sandwhich.

It's all downhill the rest of the way with nice views of the Huachucas and Dragoons. Before long you are back at the original signed intersection where you started. Follow signs back to Kartchner and parking lot.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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.

2005-04-07 fricknaley
    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
    Guindani Trail
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    Took another weekend road trip to Southeast AZ. Our main destination was Bisbee, where we stayed for 2 nights, but we had plenty of other things planned on the way there and on the way back. First stop was Kartchner Caverns in Benson, which me and my girlfriend had never been to. Kartchner was awesome, and so was this hike. Wasn't sure what to expect from this hike, but it was a very pleasant surprise for us both.

    The weather was completely overcast, which made for a very nice day out, but not a great one for photos. The mesquite forest at the beginning of the trail was really cool. Also some of the biggest ocotillo I've ever seen. A lot of them were even bigger than the surrounding mesquite trees. We chose to do the loop in the direction in the description, CCW. The first mile of the trail was mostly flat and gentle. Then the trail curved back into the mountains and started to climb a bit. We started to hear running water down below. I wasn't really expecting to see any water on this trail, but the creek was flowing pretty heavily! A nice surprise. There were even a few 5-10 ft waterfalls. We were starting to think the trail wouldn't end up going down to the creek at all, but it eventually crossed it several times. Nice to feel the ice cold water. It was hard to cross the creek without getting our feet wet in a couple spots.

    Around 2 miles in, the trail started to climb up and out of the canyon, and this half mile was the only steep part of the hike. At the top of that climb, we came to a saddle, and the expansive views to the east really snuck up on us. It stopped us in our tracks and we just enjoyed this spot for a while. I was glad we did the loop in this direction, because we had this view in front of us pretty much the whole way down. Awesome views of the other surrounding sky islands. We only saw 3 other people. Crazy how Kartchner was so crowded, but no one was on this trail. Fine by me! We enjoyed this hike a lot more than expected. Great way to kick off our weekend!
    Guindani Trail
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    Very enjoyable day spent with Addie & Bianca hiking around Kartchner Caverns!
    We hiked the figure 8 starting with Guindani clockwise and ending with the Foothills counter clockwise.
    Guindani Trail - 3 javelina encountered on the trail right at the start, many Arizona rainbow cactus found along the southern slopes, snow on the trail along the northern slopes & some decent water pools down the canyon.
    Foothills Trail - Not quite as nice as Guindani, but still an enjoyable loop around the caverns.
    After our hike, we drove down to the center and tried to get on one of the afternoon cave tours, but with no luck. Booked solid for the rest of the day :(
    The drive back home included a stop in Wilcox for a walk down (Rex Allen) Railroad Ave, a stop at Apple Annie's for pie and a very scenic route back to Safford via the Sulphur Springs Valley/Stockton Pass Rd's.
    Great ending to 2014. Many, many thanks to the girls for a wonderful year !!!
    Guindani Trail
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    We headed out along the Guindani Trail with the intention of doing the Guindani/Foothills figure 8 - but when we arrived at the junction with the Cottonwood Saddle Trail and saw that it continued near the rather beautiful Guindani canyon we could not resist exploring!!

    The description below is great - but a little long so I thought I would mention at the top of this post that I REALLY enjoyed this trail and while it is faint and prickly I thought the area was beautiful and I am a little surprised it doesn't get more use!!!


    The Cottonwood Saddle trail is overgrown, very prickly and does not seem to get much use. Cairns are certainly your friend if you want to follow the trail - at the beginning it is reasonably easy to follow. At about 2.8 miles into the trip the trail enters the canyon, a small drainage enters from the north - I believe at this spot that you should continue along the bottom of the canyon looking for two cairns on the right that will take you out of the canyon onto the north side (there may be another path here, on the way up followed a different cairn and exited to the south side of the canyon, we didn't find a good path on that side and ended up working back to the trail on the north side). While there are plenty of other spots that could be confusing two that we almost missed: at about 3.3 we almost missed a wash crossing, and at 3.5 we almost crossed the wash rather than finding the trail on the same side we were already on... After some more slightly hard to find cairns up overgrown grassy hillsides the trail eventually becomes easier to find up to the saddle.

    A fence splits the saddle and there are some great views - all the way across the Rincons into the Santa Catalina Mountains with the Summit Crags visible!! From here we went down the way we came up.

    On this trip we did not have time to go to Cottonwood Peak or East Peak - but when I do this again I will certainly save time to go to some of the nearby high points.

    The trail appears to continue down the other side from the saddle - I did not find a lot of information but on continuing past the saddle but Scott Morris's trip report (mountain bike) is interesting and this Wilderness Proposal Draft mentions that the trail connects to the Cottonwood Canyon Road (Forest Road 4012) (which the report mentions connects to Post Ranch Road (Forest Road 4596) and out to Highway 90 - although I am unsure if this is official 'public' access...).
    Guindani Trail
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    Cottonwood Saddle
    from kartchner caverns, we went up the guindani trail to the cottonwood saddle trail. the cottonwood saddle trail was really hard to follow until we got close to the top. those illegals sure know how to rut in a trail. on a time crunch to make it to a holiday party in whetstone, we didn't go up to either of the peaks available from here, but rather went back down, tried to find a couple of springs to no avail, and explored the canyon a bit before coming back out the same way we went in. all in all a good day.
    Guindani Trail
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    Cottonwood Saddle
    I picked this hike out for us to do today on our way down to visit friends in Whetstone. I'd done a longer version of it previously, hitting both Cottonwood and East Peaks with a bushwhack down off East Peak, but due to a time constraint today we decided to content ourselves with an out and back to Cottonwood Saddle.

    We reached the Karchner trailhead after paying our $6, and set off on the Guindani Trail towards the canyon. Part of the lower trail is a two track jointly signed as a Forest Road which must be accessible from elsewhere, because we did see quad tracks on it as we came out that weren't there when we went in. The canyon showed signs of a good monsoon season past, with plentiful grasses and other plants, now dry for the winter. Agave stalks are plentiful in this area, with some truly impressive in size. About the only color we saw all day was a smattering of a few Hummingbird Trumpets here and there.

    When we reached the junction where the Cottonwood Trail spurs off of the Guindani Loop, it was obvious immediately that the vast majority hike the loop and very few continue up the canyon. Beyond this point, knee high grass crowded the trail and obscured the cairns, making it difficult to follow. We got off track several times, but never too far that correcting back to the trail became problematic. There were a couple spots I remembered where I had lost the trail the other time I was here and we lost it again in one of the same spots along the section where the trail arcs around to head north up to the saddle.

    Once the trail starts the slightly more steep but still gentle climb up to the saddle, the trail improved quite a bit and showed more signs of use. A couple pieces of litter spotted along this section indicated likely smuggling usage at times, so we perked up the radar but all was quiet today. We finished off the uphill to the saddle and set down for a break, enjoying the views for a while before starting down.

    We passed another pair of hikers as we got down to the main canyon, but those were the only folks we saw on the trail all day. Once the creek bed widened out we decided to forego the trail for a bit and walk down the creek for a ways, and ventured off to look for a spring shown on the map but couldn't find it. We were surprised when we got cliffed out by a 10 or so foot high dam in the creek bed so at that point we hopped back up onto the trail for the rest of the way out.

    We decided to leave the rest of the Guindani Loop for another time, made our way back to the trailhead and then drove down to Whetstone for a wonderful evening with friends around a backyard campfire.
    Guindani Trail
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    Filled with Dragoon fever after reading Angela's recent Black Diamond triplog, I just had to visit the Dragoons...

    After a cactus shopping spree and dinner with a friend in Tucson, I journeyed east on I-10, arriving at a campsite in East Stronghold Canyon around midnight. The occasional hooting from a pair of owls kept me company under the starry sky. I awoke at dawn to cliffs of Stronghold granite growing bright orange. The first stop on my busy day would be the Stronghold. I hiked up to the divide, enjoying the familiar sights and wonderful rocks as always. Another hiker seemed surprised at my turning around there. "I've gotta save time for Black Diamond Peak", I said, before heading back to the trailhead. I rehydrated upon reaching my truck, then continued south for hike #2 of the day.

    My truck rattled up Middlemarch Road and my mind waxed nostalgic thinking of previous Dragoon adventures and happier times. Parking along road 4393, I set off on foot for Black Diamond Peak, soon passing a group of hikers on their way down. The wind really picked up at the saddle, where I began the Henry Canyon traverse. The Black Diamond ridge line was just as fun as I remembered, despite the wind doing its best to blow me off of it. I quickly reached the summit, where I sat down to enjoy one of my most favorite summit views and to savor the whole Dragoon experience. I was surprised to find a nice note in the summit register for me that Angela had left a week earlier. Thank you, Angela! :) Not wanting to leave but knowing I had to, I began the hike back to my truck.

    Arriving in Tombstone, I realized I wouldn't have enough time to hike Mount Ballard in Bisbee as my final hike of the day like I had planned, so I decided upon the Guindani Trail, another old favorite. Thick, puffy clouds were blowing over the Whetstones as I screeched to a halt at the Guindani trailhead. Sunset was only 20 minutes away. I moved quickly across the flats and into Guindani Canyon. It was well after sunset when I reached the saddle highpoint, where I stopped to admire the fascinating form of The Cape in the distance. Two miles later the trailhead came into sight under the light of my headlamp, where I happily escaped the wind inside my truck, before departing for Tucson.

    I returned to Tucson in time for the last 60 seconds of the REI Garage Sale, ate a well earned dinner, than began the long journey home.

    Although rushed, this was an outstanding and very memorable trip. :D
    Guindani Trail
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    Figure 8 hike starting with the Guindani Trail and ending with the Foothills Loop. Guindani trail was better than expected and I really enjoyed all the views! Kicked up about 4-5 javalina in the canyon wash and had the poo scared out of me by a big covy of quail exploding out of the brush while climbing up to the saddle. Foothills loop was also nice (not quite as good as Guindani) and the views from the high point hill were also real good. Felt a little funny being at Kartchner Caverns just for a hike and not taking the cave tour.
    Guindani Trail
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    First thing in the morning it was a trip to the Big Room in Kartchner Caverns. The Big Room is awesome, if you have never been I highly suggest it. It would be great if they allowed photography in the Caves, but alas, I'll have to rely on my memory.

    I break up this hike in 3 basic parts.
    Starting counter clockwise, this trail started out slow on the old jeep trail, but got a lot nicer once you got to the stream. You follow the stream for aprox a mile. The water was flowing great today and I had a great time looking at all the little falls while crossing the stream numerous times.

    Once out of the stream, you head South up the hill and up through the area with the trees. It's a nice little 1 mile or so to the top. The views of the snow peaked Huachuca's to the south was spectacular.

    Once at the top it was all downhill on the side of the mountain that has seen fire recently. The rocks on this side of the mountain were all loose and any off trail scrambling (if it were allowed) would have been difficult. The trail was in grate shape. There was evidence of numerous minning digs.
    Guindani Trail
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    Since I was going to Benson anyway, I had to hit Guindani. Four loose dogs on the trail greeted me upon entering the canyon. The aggressive one got a hiking pole to the face, and learned not to mess with Sasquatch. Guindani creek was flowing cool and clear at several c.f.s. :) Yay! Tried to set a personal speed record today. I didn't really succeed in that, but I had a fun hike. Enjoyed some great weather, too!
    Guindani Trail
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    This was a nice evening hike in a new area for me. The scenery was prettier than I had expected, especially along upper Guindani Canyon, where a few patches of summer wildflowers brightened things up. A recent fire has blackened the northern slopes of Middle Canyon, along the south half of the loop. Today's discovery: my beat up point-and-shoot Kodak camera can withstand my full 200 pound frame slamming it against rocks on the trail.

    Permit $$
    AZ State Parks more info
    2018 Day Use Fees range from $2–$30

    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
    From Tucson head south/east on I-10 to exit # 302 for AZ-90 South to Sierra Vista. After about 7 miles the turnoff for Kartchner Caverns is on your right. Follow the road through park (following signs to trailhead) until it ends. Trailhead is here.
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