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Madera Canyon - Nature Trail to Wrightson, AZ

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Guide 44 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Tucson S
3.4 of 5 by 14
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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
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Collective Slideshow
Inaugural Calculation next Tap
13  2018-10-28 rwstorm
13  2018-02-23
Madera Canyon Nature Trail
11  2017-06-12
Bog Spring and Roger's Rock
5  2017-03-18
Four Springs loop Madera Canyon
30  2016-06-26
Amphitheater to Carrie Nation
30  2015-11-16
Santa Rita Autumn I
20  2015-10-22
Carrie Nation and Nature Trail Santa Rita Mts
3  2014-05-30 LOChikinggal
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   May, Jun, Sep, Oct → 8 AM
Seasons   Late Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  6:48am - 5:27pm
Route Scout App
Official Route
2 Linked
Nearby Area Water
Agua Caliente Saddle Dos Veces
Agua Caliente Saddle Dos Veces
same trailhead
8.0 mi
4,075 ft
Jack Mountain Loop
Jack Mountain Loop
same trailhead
5.3 mi
2,110 ft
Kent Spring Trail #157
Kent Spring Trail #157
same trailhead
1.6 mi
1,436 ft
Old Baldy - Super Trail Loop
Old Baldy - Super Trail Loop
same trailhead
12.8 mi
4,050 ft
Old Baldy Trail #372 to Wrightson Summit
Old Baldy Trail #372 to Wrightson Summit
same trailhead
10.4 mi
4,043 ft
Roger's Rock
same trailhead
3.9 mi
1,116 ft
Super Trail #134
same trailhead
8.1 mi
4,050 ft
Vault Mine - Josephine Saddle Loop
Vault Mine - Josephine Saddle Loop
same trailhead
8.0 mi
1,600 ft
Vault Mine Trail #77
Vault Mine Trail #77
same trailhead
1.8 mi
2,360 ft
Mount Hopkins Loop
Mount Hopkins Loop
0.0 mi away
7.4 mi
3,213 ft
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Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
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.


    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.

    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 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
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