register help

Chinaman Trail #137, AZ

Guide 11 Triplogs  1 Active Topic
  4 of 5 
1 Active
167 11 0
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 4.4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,600 feet
Elevation Gain 928 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,019 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 7.8
Backpack Possible & Connecting
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Will recalculate on button tap!
18  2021-01-07
Tunnel Spring Trail
12  2020-11-21
Temporal Gulch - AZT #4
9  2020-11-21
Temporal Gulch - AZT #4
7  2020-04-04 sparkspack
6  2018-12-09
Temporal Gulch - AZT #4
6  2016-05-07 cindyl
15  2014-11-15
Temporal Gulch - AZT #4
65  2014-03-21
AZT Passages 4-5
Page 1,  2
Author BrettVet
author avatar Guides 15
Routes 40
Photos 335
Trips 48 map ( 525 miles )
Age 71 Male Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   Apr, Oct, Mar, Nov → 9 AM
Seasons   ALL
Sun  5:19am - 7:32pm
Official Route
6 Alternative

Historic Hike with great views
by BrettVet

The Santa Rita mountain trails usually go only in two directions, straight up or straight down. The Chinaman trail is a relatively easy flat trail that takes you into a remote canyon with outstanding views across the Sonoita valley. Mostly unaffected by forest fires, it is a little-used well-marked trail that is much nicer than the nearby Gardner canyon trail that goes straight up to the Super Trail through rubble and a burned area. The bottom line is if you want a leisure day hike in the Santa Ritas, this is your trail.

Getting to the trailhead is almost effortless with four-wheel drive but can be done in a high clearance car, especially for a rental car. There are several creek crossings, but for the most part, the road is well graded. If you don't have the 4x4, you can park at the Arizona trailhead just past the ranch houses on the way into Gardner canyon and take the Arizona trail south. This adds about 3 miles of easy hiking to the trip and is less scenic than the Casa Blanca Canyon.

The Chinaman Trail follows an old water ditch built in 1902 to supply water to mine gold at Kentucky Camp some 8 miles away. The ditch and waterway were constructed by Chinese labor, hence the politically incorrect name. The trail starts at Tunnel Springs, which gets its name from where the laborers cut a tunnel through the hill to keep the water flowing downhill from Casa Blanca canyon to Gardner Canyon.

The Chinaman Trailhead is at the round metal stock tank with a sign that says tunnel springs and the Arizona Trail (signs are politically correct). Do not continue on the road up the hill to Gardner Canyon Trailhead. Take the trail up over the hill to the south into Casa Blanca Canyon to pick up the other side's ditch/trail. You will encounter another larger stock tank, and the ditch/ trail will hug the canyon wall. After about a mile, there will be a small tunnel through some boulders, and after about 2.6 miles, the ditch will end at bear spring.

Bear spring is an excellent place to turn around because from here, the trail goes straight uphill for about 1.5 miles to intersect the Walker Canyon trail. You can make this a loop hike by taking the Walker Canyon trail 1.5 miles over to the Gardner Canyon trail then down the 4x4 road back to Tunnel Springs. The Walker Canyon trail is closed due to fire damage and erosion but passable at your own peril. I would not recommend it because the trail and views are pretty bleak due to the fire, and there is a lot of road hiking.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2006-10-08 BrettVet

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 $$

Coronado Forest
MVUMs are rarely necessary to review unless mentioned in the description or directions
Coronado Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs)

Map Drive
FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

To hike
From I-10 Tucson, travel east on I-10 approximately 20 miles to the Highway 83 exit. Exit to 83 south and go 21.5 miles to the sign for Gardner Canyon road to the west. Turn west on Gardner canyon road (forest service road 92) for 6.3 miles. Turn left on forest service road 785(Gardner canyon road) about 3 miles to tunnel springs. There is a small round water trough next to a barb wire fence and AZ trail sign. Plenty of parking at the trailhead.
90+° 8am - 6pm kills
help comment issue

end of page marker