register help

Agua Caliente Saddle Dos Veces, AZ

Guide 3 Triplogs  1 Active Topic
  4 of 5 
1 Active
37 3 0
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 4.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 8 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,400 feet
Elevation Gain 1,815 feet
Accumulated Gain 4,075 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 28.38
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
19  2006-08-27 fricknaley
13  2006-05-28 fricknaley
Author fricknaley
author avatar Guides 93
Routes 387
Photos 4,001
Trips 3,137 map ( 20,367 miles )
Age 45 Male Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   May, Sep, Aug, Oct
Sun  5:37am - 7:22pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimetersacres
🔥 2005 Florida Fire23.2k
🔥 2005 Florida47.6 mi*
🔥 View All over Official Route 🔥
*perimeter length in miles

Brutal pleasure
by fricknaley

remove free decal offer
There are a bunch of Agua Caliente's in Southern Arizona... canyons, rivers, hills. Well, here's another one - Agua Caliente Saddle - and it's one to remember. This saddle sits on the western edge of Maderna Canyon and looks east over the Canyon towards Wrightson and the Santa Rita ridgeline. It is a beautiful area, untouched by the Florida fire. Like many beautiful things, though, it takes some real work to get there. I created a wonderfully painful route today, incorporating Agua Caliente Saddle as the midpoint, with severe climbs on either side. Why? Because well all love to climb, I guess.

I started this trip from the official trailhead shared by Old Baldy and the Super Trail. The route of approach is the Vault Mine/Very Steep trail. I have described this route on a separate trip before. You may reference that if you please. Briefly, this first leg is a tough, short climb. As you start on the Baldy Trail, in roughly 0.25 miles, you come to the signed breakoff for Old Baldy proper. Stay right (or straight) onto the Vault Mine/Very Steep trail. It continues climbing up the canyon. There are beautiful sycamores here and just an incredible assortment of birds cruising about (including my first ever Elegant Trogon sighting). In roughly another 0.25 miles, you come to a signed intersection for Vault Mine and Carrie Nation trail. Break off right here and let the fun begin. This trail now climbs wildly up the western flank of Madera Canyon, gaining about 1300 feet in a little less than a mile. The views and fragrant pines are the inspiration because you get more amazing views increasingly down Madera Canyon as you go.

When you reach the signed intersection for Agua Caliente Trail, you will want to head right. This sign is about 1.5 miles in or so. As you go right along the Agua Caliente trail towards the saddle, the views off to the right are amazing. It is only about 0.33 miles to the saddle, which is signed. The trail signs say 0.8 miles, but it is shorter. There are a couple of unmarked trails at the saddle. Arrows point the way to Agua Caliente (it's down).

The upper reaches of the Agua Caliente trail are in a pristine pine forest, and they are STEEP. So much so that you will blaze down the path very fast. The trail drops down into a canyon (Agua Caliente on some maps, Rattlesnake on others) and follows it down, down, down the southern slopes of the Santa Ritas. The views south are long. You will pass a couple of abandoned mines on your left (Treasure Vault Mines).

Eventually, you level out a little and descend into more high desert/low forest vegetation. This area of the Santa Ritas is very remote, isolated, and quite rugged. Pretty cool. As you wander along, there will probably be some trees and branches lying over the trail. I don't think too many folks come out this way.

Nonetheless, the trail is never difficult to follow. Eventually, you stumble upon a dirt forest road. This is where the Agua Caliente Trailhead is. You can start the hike here too. I have in the past. However, the road is pretty rocky, and it takes a while to get there. Plus, hiking through Madera Canyon is always excellent. It is about 2 miles or so from the Saddle to this trailhead.

Have a snack and power up. The climb back actually gains more elevation than the Vault Mine trail. You will climb about 2200 feet in roughly 2 miles. It is tough, but the views coming back are lovely. You will now notice the telescope perched atop the impossibly green and lush appearing Mt. Hopkins to your right. There are peaks everywhere. Near the top, you can spy Pete Mountain to your left. The last couple of switchbacks are painful, and I think the final switchback is the steepest and longest one I have ever climbed. Finally, back at the saddle, the views east towards the main ridgeline are just great. Head back the way you came to complete this roughly 8 mile, 4075 total elevation gain screamer. For the mileage, I don't know if there is more elevation to be gained around here. This is an excellent training hike if you have a big climb coming up too.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a more difficult hike. It would be unwise to attempt this without prior experience hiking.

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

2006-05-29 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.

    Permit $$
    Visit this link for full details.
    2021 - FAQ
    $8 per vehicle per day
    $10 per vehicle per week
    $40 per vehicle per year (valid for one year from date of purchase)

    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.

    2021 Catalina State Park
    Per vehicle (1-4 Adults): $7.00
    Individual/bicycle: $3.00

    2021 Sabino Canyon Tram is $12 extra. [ website ]

    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
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
    help comment issue

    end of page marker