Find
Map
Post
Find
Aa
username
X
password
register help
Madera Canyon-Nature Trail to Wrightson, AZ
details
drive
permit
forecast
route
stats
451
41
1
active
topic
nearby
The Santa Rita Mountains are one of the many "Sky Islands" located in southeastern Arizona and Madera Canyon is a lovely gem located on the northwest side of this magnificent range under the towering Mount Wrightson (elev 9453 ft) the third tallest peak in Arizona and the tallest in the Santa Rita Range. Being one of the "Sky Islands", this canyon has unique and diversified flora and fauna with over 230 different species of birds recorded and documented, including more than a dozen species of hummingbirds that live in this ecosystem. April through June afford the best bird-watching months with June and September being the best for hummingbirds. I personally recorded 6 different species of hummingbirds in one afternoon including the male/female of the Broad Billed, Magnificent, Calliope, White-eared, Anna's and Black Chinned hummingbirds that visited the feeders located on the grounds of the Santa Rita Lodge which was our home for three days while we explored the area. Other species we saw included the Acorn Woodpecker, Mexican Jay, Bridled Titmouse, White-Crested Nuthatch, Goldfinches, House Finches, Warblers, Vireos and Chickadees. We were also witness to an Elf Owl that had set up a nest (with babies!!) in the telephone pole outside our cabin and mysteriously appeared around 8:30 PM as she cried "chy-ewp" and then we heard another similar cry from across the trees which we think was her mate answering her. It seems they were a tandom pair and one stayed with the nest as the other went off for food. An Elf owl is about the size of a sparrow and is the smallest of the species.


The area is as rich with history as it is with wildlife. Madera is the Spanish word for lumber or wood and was so named because it served as a major source of timber for Tucson over a century ago. Mount Wrightson is named after William Wrightson, a Nogales mining superintendent who was killed by Apaches near Sonoita in the 1860's. William Wrightson is also credited with bringing the first printing press to the Arizona Territory and published the first weekly newspaper in Tubac called "The Arizonian" in 1859.

The Nature trail starts at the Santa Rita Lodge and makes its way on the west side of Madera Creek and continues for 2.7 miles to the Mount Wrightson picnic area. This trail can best be described as a "nice stroll" and very well maintained with a bit of elevation gain through typical shaded oak-juniper forest of this elevation. My hiking companion and I found this to be pretty easy and there were nice views of Madera Canyon below us and the Santa Rita's to our East. The ridgeline of the Santa Ritas included Old Baldy (Mt Wrightson, Mt McCleary, Jack Mtn, and Mt Hopkins, where the Smithsonian had an observatory. It was an overcast day and temps were pleasant in the 70's with a nice breeze. This trail gains about 1000 feet in about two miles then levels out before intersecting with the Super Trail and Old Baldy Trails at the 2.7 mile mark. There is also the Carrie Nation Trail to Vault Mine trail from this intersection. We decided that we didn't have enough yet and started up a well maintained Super Trail toward Josephine Saddle (elev 7080 ft) and decided we would make the saddle or turn around at any given point. As we headed up the Super Trail, the flora gave way to more pine forest and there was a lovely little creek running. This is where we saw an abundance of birds including a Hooded Oriole, Robin and a Spotted Towhee. We were looking for an Elegant Trogan but didn't see any on this trip although there were reports of several nesting pairs in the canyon. We decided to turn around after hiking about 1 1/2 miles in on the Super Trail and vowed to return when we had more time to make the saddle or go to the peak. We took the paved road back to the Santa Rita Lodge and thought we may have heard the Elegant Trogan which supposedly sounds like an angry duck.

I should also mention here that this is Black Bear country although we saw none on our trip. Bobcats too. We also saw two very graceful white tailed deer that drank from the birdbath in front of our cabin at 6 AM. They know where the water is!

This is a great area if you're into bird watching or just a nature lover at heart. You can hike on the trails or just sit at the wildlife area at the Santa Rita lodge and soak it all in.
Description 41 Triplogs  1 Active Topic
RatedFavorite  
Wish List 7
 Region
 
0
0
 Tucson S
Statistics
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 4.25 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,500 feet
Elevation Gain 1,000 feet
Avg Time One Way 3.5
Kokopelli Seeds 7.58
Author Trishness
Descriptions 14
Routes 0
Photos 720
Trips 187 map ( 1,244 miles )
Age 58
Location Apache Junction, AZ
Photos
Viewed All Mine Following
5  2017-03-18
Four Springs loop Madera Canyon
toddak
30  2016-06-26
Amphitheater to Carrie Nation
rwstorm
30  2015-11-16
Santa Rita Autumn I
outdoor_lover
20  2015-10-22
Carrie Nation and Nature Trail Santa Rita Mts
markthurman53
3  2014-05-30 LOChikinggal
5  2014-03-26 Jonnybackpack
36  2013-12-26
Madera Meander
rwstorm
35  2013-09-27 Bradshaws
1  2013-09-08 fricknaley
34  2013-08-30 rwstorm
26  2013-08-30 outdoor_lover
30  2012-09-28 Bradshaws
Page 1,  2,  3
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Radar
Map - Rainbow Expeditions Santa Ritas
Forest Coronado
Wilderness Mount Wrightson
Backpack   Possible - Not Popular
Preferred   May, Jun, Sep, Oct → 8 AM
Seasons   Late Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  5:22am - 7:19pm
Route Scout
import queue
Official Route
 
Alternative Routes
 
Water
Nearby Area Water
Agua Caliente Saddle Dos Veces
same trailhead
8.0 mi
4,075 ft
Jack Mountain Loop
same trailhead
5.3 mi
2,110 ft
Kent Spring Trail #157
same trailhead
1.6 mi
1,800 ft
Old Baldy - Super Trail Loop
same trailhead
12.8 mi
4,050 ft
Old Baldy Trail #372 to Wrightson Summit
same trailhead
10.4 mi
4,000 ft
Roger's Rock
same trailhead
3.9 mi
1,116 ft
[ View More! ]
Fauna
Acorn Woodpecker
Arizona Gray Squirrel
Arizona Sister Butterfly
Arizona Woodpecker
Black Bear
Black-chinned Hummingbird
Black-headed Grosbeak
Blue-throated Hummingbird
Bobcat
Bordered Patch Butterfly
Broad-billed Hummingbird
Broad-winged bush Katydid
Checkered White Butterfly
Chipping Sparrow
Costa's Hummingbird
Desert Grassland Whiptail
Dull Firetip Skipper
Empress Leilia Butterfly
Fungus Beetle
Grasshopper
Hepatic Tanager
Horse Lubber Grasshopper
Ladybug beetle
Lazuli Bunting
Leaf Beetle
Lesser Goldfinch
Mexican Jay
Monarch butterfly
Mule Deer
Painted Redstart
Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly
Queen Butterfly
Red Admiral Butterfly
Red-spotted Purple Butterfly
Skunk
Song Sparrow
Sonoran Spotted Whiptail
Stink Bug
Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher
Unidentified Butterfly
Unidentified Fauna
White Tailed Deer
Wild Turkey
Yarrow's Spiny Lizard
Flora
Arizona White Oak
Barrel Cactus
Common Monkey Flower
Hookers Evening Primrose
Japanese honeysuckle
Moss
Mountain Dandelion
Periwinkle
Saguaro
Smooth Bouvardia
Starfish Flower
Sweet Four O'Clock
Torrey's Crag Lily
Unidentified Flora
Meteorology
Sunset
Named place
Elephant Head
Madera Canyon
Mount Wrightson
Mt. Wrightson Wilderness
Bird-watchers paradise
by Trishness

The Santa Rita Mountains are one of the many "Sky Islands" located in southeastern Arizona and Madera Canyon is a lovely gem located on the northwest side of this magnificent range under the towering Mount Wrightson (elev 9453 ft) the third tallest peak in Arizona and the tallest in the Santa Rita Range. Being one of the "Sky Islands", this canyon has unique and diversified flora and fauna with over 230 different species of birds recorded and documented, including more than a dozen species of hummingbirds that live in this ecosystem. April through June afford the best bird-watching months with June and September being the best for hummingbirds. I personally recorded 6 different species of hummingbirds in one afternoon including the male/female of the Broad Billed, Magnificent, Calliope, White-eared, Anna's and Black Chinned hummingbirds that visited the feeders located on the grounds of the Santa Rita Lodge which was our home for three days while we explored the area. Other species we saw included the Acorn Woodpecker, Mexican Jay, Bridled Titmouse, White-Crested Nuthatch, Goldfinches, House Finches, Warblers, Vireos and Chickadees. We were also witness to an Elf Owl that had set up a nest (with babies!!) in the telephone pole outside our cabin and mysteriously appeared around 8:30 PM as she cried "chy-ewp" and then we heard another similar cry from across the trees which we think was her mate answering her. It seems they were a tandom pair and one stayed with the nest as the other went off for food. An Elf owl is about the size of a sparrow and is the smallest of the species.


The area is as rich with history as it is with wildlife. Madera is the Spanish word for lumber or wood and was so named because it served as a major source of timber for Tucson over a century ago. Mount Wrightson is named after William Wrightson, a Nogales mining superintendent who was killed by Apaches near Sonoita in the 1860's. William Wrightson is also credited with bringing the first printing press to the Arizona Territory and published the first weekly newspaper in Tubac called "The Arizonian" in 1859.

The Nature trail starts at the Santa Rita Lodge and makes its way on the west side of Madera Creek and continues for 2.7 miles to the Mount Wrightson picnic area. This trail can best be described as a "nice stroll" and very well maintained with a bit of elevation gain through typical shaded oak-juniper forest of this elevation. My hiking companion and I found this to be pretty easy and there were nice views of Madera Canyon below us and the Santa Rita's to our East. The ridgeline of the Santa Ritas included Old Baldy (Mt Wrightson, Mt McCleary, Jack Mtn, and Mt Hopkins, where the Smithsonian had an observatory. It was an overcast day and temps were pleasant in the 70's with a nice breeze. This trail gains about 1000 feet in about two miles then levels out before intersecting with the Super Trail and Old Baldy Trails at the 2.7 mile mark. There is also the Carrie Nation Trail to Vault Mine trail from this intersection. We decided that we didn't have enough yet and started up a well maintained Super Trail toward Josephine Saddle (elev 7080 ft) and decided we would make the saddle or turn around at any given point. As we headed up the Super Trail, the flora gave way to more pine forest and there was a lovely little creek running. This is where we saw an abundance of birds including a Hooded Oriole, Robin and a Spotted Towhee. We were looking for an Elegant Trogan but didn't see any on this trip although there were reports of several nesting pairs in the canyon. We decided to turn around after hiking about 1 1/2 miles in on the Super Trail and vowed to return when we had more time to make the saddle or go to the peak. We took the paved road back to the Santa Rita Lodge and thought we may have heard the Elegant Trogan which supposedly sounds like an angry duck.

I should also mention here that this is Black Bear country although we saw none on our trip. Bobcats too. We also saw two very graceful white tailed deer that drank from the birdbath in front of our cabin at 6 AM. They know where the water is!

This is a great area if you're into bird watching or just a nature lover at heart. You can hike on the trails or just sit at the wildlife area at the Santa Rita lodge and soak it all in.
© 2005 - 2017 hikearizona.com

-

    One-Way Notice: This hike is listed as One-Way. When you hike 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.

    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 $8 extra.


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    Paved - Car Okay

    To Madera Canyon Trailhead
    From Tucson: I-19 south to exit 63 Continental. At the end of the exit take a left and follow brown signs to Madera Canyon. You'll be taking White House Canyon Road 13.2 miles to Madera Canyon.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 152 mi - about 2 hours 31 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 42.3 mi - about 55 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 295 mi - about 4 hours 37 mins
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
    stay out of the scorching sun
    prehydrate & stay hydrated
    About
    FAQ
    contact
    Shop
    © 2017 HAZ