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Cave Canyon Trail #149 - 8 members in 28 triplogs have rated this an average 4.5 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Oct 03 2020
desertadapted
avatar

 Photos 97
 Triplogs 16

44 male
 Joined Apr 25 2017
 Phoenix, AZ
East Sawmill Canyon Trail #146Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 03 2020
desertadapted
Hiking12.00 Miles 3,100 AEG
Hiking12.00 Miles
3,100 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked linked
Partners none no partners
I've been trying to explore some of the trails in the Santa Rita's (Wrightson) lately. Some weeks back I went up the Florida Canyon Trail which, at the Florida Saddle, connects with Sawmill and Cave Canyon (Cave Creek) trails. I put together a loop that combined both. Unfortunately, a good bit of road walking is involved. I started on Cave Canyon. Like a number of trails in the area, it starts off well-forested and riparian. It then shifts to steep switchbacks in an exposed burn area. Although there are some pines coming back, most of the exposed terrain is covered by the scratchy mix of bushes you'd expect. Cave Canyon is excellently maintained for all that, and the views were great. After Florida Saddle, I continued up a bit through the overgrown sections of Sawmill, which then dips down steeply.
Sawmill Spring has plenty of great water (looks perennial) and I startled some deer who had the same idea.
I was able to fill up my water again at the official start of Sawmill, at a stream crossing.
Unfortunately, to make the hike a loop, the remainder needed to be road walk. Until I reached FR92, there wasn't much traffic.
The highlight of Sawmill is Sawmill Spring, but as between it and Cave Canyon, I'd choose the latter. I would definitely recommend Cave Canyon as an alternative route to the summit, but would not at all suggest replicating my loop hike. Too much road for not enough trail.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Sawmill Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Box of cool, clear, tasty water. And plenty of it.
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Sep 13 2020
RedwallNHops
avatar

 Guides 1
 Routes 10
 Photos 446
 Triplogs 1,147

45 male
 Joined Dec 22 2003
 Tucson, AZ
Gardner Canyon/Cave creek loop, AZ 
Gardner Canyon/Cave creek loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Sep 13 2020
RedwallNHops
Hiking13.00 Miles 4,314 AEG
Hiking13.00 Miles
4,314 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Partners none no partners
up Gardner/down cave canyon. Summitted Wrightson
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Sep 05 2020
SpiderLegs
avatar

 Guides 2
 Routes 8
 Photos 42
 Triplogs 644

53 male
 Joined Jul 12 2012
 Tucson, AZ
Cave Canyon - Wrightson - Gardner Loop, AZ 
Cave Canyon - Wrightson - Gardner Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Sep 05 2020
SpiderLegs
Hiking13.25 Miles 4,100 AEG
Hiking13.25 Miles   5 Hrs   6 Mns   2.60 mph
4,100 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Had a bigger day planned in the mountains to do our shake down cruise in prep for Mt. Whitney in a couple of weeks, but with the high temp advisory for the weekend cut the hike short. Camped out along Gardner Canyon Road in order to get an early start and hit the trail with our headlamps by 5:30 AM.

Started up Cave Canyon under glorious temps in the mid-60's and low humidity. Stayed this way until the Crest Trail. Once we hit the saddle just below Wrightson the wind was gusting and frankly pretty annoying. So put aside plans for eating breakfast on the summit and ate on the saddle, with plans to simply touch the summit and head straight back down as soon as we got up there. Pretty brisk on the summit and the wind was still blustery, touched the summit and quickly turned back down.

From there hit Super Trail down to Gardner Trail, hit the Link Trail back to the car. This is where we decided that an early start and shorter route was the best plan. It got pretty toasty in this section. I'm starting to notice birds along the trail and we found a couple of Montezuma Quail along Gardner Trail.

Great day overall in the mountains. Our group is gelling and psyched about meeting again in California in 10 days.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
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See my pics on Instagram @tucsonexplorer
May 16 2020
LindaAnn
avatar

 Guides 42
 Routes 382
 Photos 3,509
 Triplogs 1,203

40 female
 Joined Dec 24 2007
 Ahwatukee, AZ
Wrightson - Florida, AZ 
Wrightson - Florida, AZ
 
Hiking avatar May 16 2020
LindaAnn
Hiking14.36 Miles 4,577 AEG
Hiking14.36 Miles   8 Hrs   52 Mns   1.83 mph
4,577 ft AEG   1 Hour   2 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Route Scout GPS Route Recorded on Route Scout View
Parked at the end of Gardner Canyon Rd. The road is in very good shape, only two short rocky spots and one spot of water.

Headed up Link Trail, then up Gardner Canyon trail. I like Gardner Canyon, the pine trees are nice. The trail is generally in good shape, although the upper half is steep and not much shade. The other bonus is that it doesn't seem to get much use.

Once we reached Super Trail, we headed north and made our way up to Baldy Saddle, where we took a short break. After that, we headed up to Wrightson. The mile or so from the saddle to the summit was very crowded with other hikers, as expected. Out of the entire day, this was the only section where we saw anyone else. Quick stop at the summit to take a few pic, but it was very buggy (as was the majority of the day) so we kept moving.

Another break at the saddle, then we continued north on Crest Trail. Again, the sections with pines are very pleasant. Some spots of the trail are brushy and I was glad I wore pants instead of shorts. At Florida Saddle, we got onto East Sawmill and headed over towards Florida Peak. Sawmill is very overgrown, and is kind of a hassle to hike. The short offtrail up to Florida was actually a relief, although we didn't hang around on the summit since it was buzzing with insects.

Once back at Florida Saddle, we headed down Cave Canyon trail. Once again, I really liked Cave Canyon. The trail is steep in the upper half, but in nice shape, and not overgrown. There was a good amount of water flowing in the lower half. Very pleasant hiking, although not much breeze so it felt warm.

I wasn't feeling all that great, so the hike was more of a grind than it should have been, but it was still enjoyable. Within the first mile of the hike, I'd actually had the thought that I would have turned around if I hadn't just driven nearly three hours for this. That was really the only reason I went through with the hike. The heat and insects were also two negatives of the day. Still, it was good to get out there, and even better to only have to deal with other hikers for less than two miles of the entire loop. I think next time, I'll skip the Florida Peak part, and make the loop a little shorter. We each went through just under 4 liters of water.
Flora
Flora
Claret Cup Cactus

dry Baldy Spring Dry Dry

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Gardner Canyon - Santa Ritas Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
A couple of pools. Didn't look great.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Middle Cave Creek - Santa Ritas Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
Plenty of water in the pools and for the first 1.5 miles of Cave Canyon trail.

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May 10 2020
jrousoshammond
avatar

 Routes 29
 Triplogs 167

32 male
 Joined May 15 2015
 Tucson
Cave Canyon Trail #149Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar May 10 2020
jrousoshammond
Hiking9.40 Miles 3,030 AEG
Hiking9.40 Miles   4 Hrs   26 Mns   2.14 mph
3,030 ft AEG      3 Mns Break
 
no photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
At first I parked before the creek crossing, but after over a mile of pleasant road and several more miles to go, I decided to walk back to my car and just try to make it to the TH. It worked out fine- as long as the water isn't too deep, a small car does the job.

The actual trail up to Florida Saddle is great. The Sawmill trail over to Florida Peak is a lot better than I expected, so much so that I followed it too far down to the right expecting it to lead to a pleasant route up the peak. In reality it's best to just stay on top of the ridge and just head straight up. I also went over to the northern summit just in case, since my GPS seemed to think that it was the actual summit...

The plan was to loop with Gardner and possibly hit Wrightson, but I got hailed on pretty good not long after I got on the Crest trail. I heard two big thunders after I called it quits and was heading back down Cave Canyon. The storm headed north so I probably would've been fine, but the Crest trail isn't the ideal place to screw around with lightning.

Definitely a worthwhile trip.
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May 09 2020
ShatteredArm
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 Guides 4
 Routes 89
 Photos 452
 Triplogs 92

37 male
 Joined Nov 30 2015
 Phoenix, AZ
Florida Saddle lollipop, AZ 
Florida Saddle lollipop, AZ
 
Run/Jog avatar May 09 2020
ShatteredArm
Run/Jog22.64 Miles 6,558 AEG
Run/Jog22.64 Miles   7 Hrs   47 Mns   2.95 mph
6,558 ft AEG      6 Mns Break
 
no photosets
1st trip
Headed down to the Santa Ritas to check out a couple more trails. We started off at Florida Canyon TH in order to shorten the drive (although adding on Florida Canyon trail clearly adds to the overall time and effort). It felt pretty warm early on, but that may be because of the exertion it takes to get up to that saddle. I was doubting at that point whether it would be a good idea to do the full route.

We headed onto Sawmill trail, and I suggested that while we're up there, we might as well bag Florida Peak. So we did, and the view was worth it. We tried to reconnect with Sawmill by sticking to the east side of the ridge, but that turned out not to be a time saver.

The descent down Sawmill had lots of variety; some really scratchy shrubs up high, nice mature ponderosa pine forests, and a dense thicket of young pines that will probably have to be thinned out at some point. The spring was flowing, with a nice clear pool, so I mixed up more electrolyte drink and grabbed an extra bag of water just in case. Below the spring, Sawmill Canyon had water off and on all the way down to the road.

The forest road section (which happens to be part of the Old Pueblo 50 course) was a little miserable. Cloud cover was increasing, and it alternated between hot and exposed, and nice and cool, based on whether there was a cloud overhead. When we got down to the main road, the crossing at Cave Creek was dry, so grabbing extra water at the spring turned out to be a good decision. A couple miles up the road, the creek had water.

Cave Creek trail was fairly enjoyable, with the lower section along the creek being at a very reasonable grade. We stopped for one last water fill about a quarter mile before the wilderness boundary - and at the wilderness boundary the creek had dried up again.

Around this time, we heard the first thunder, with one flash of lightning being probably within a mile. The rest of the way up to Florida Saddle there was occasional thunder - nothing close, but enough to motivate me to get up and over as fast as possible. In retrospect, the storm clouds provided some much needed coolth and even saved me up to half an hour!

The run back down to the TH was a nice cruise; either I had some adrenaline left from the lightning, or actually taking in enough electrolytes had an impact... Managed to get down from Florida Saddle in about 55 minutes.

Good day overall, but I don't know if I'd do this loop again, just because of the forest road section...

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Aliso Spring Gallon per minute Gallon per minute
Plenty of water in the creek at the end of the Jeep road.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Florida Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Hard to tell how much the actual spring has; flow could be heard in the creek from the trail. There is a pipe crossing the trail that is dripping.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Middle Cave Creek - Santa Ritas Medium flow Medium flow
Good water about a mile before the end of the road. Couple of dry stretches along the trail, but mostly flowing almost to the wilderness boundary.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Sawmill Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Decent flow, nice clear water in the pool.
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Apr 05 2020
jladderud
avatar

 Guides 1
 Routes 12
 Photos 17
 Triplogs 78

30 male
 Joined Oct 05 2017
 Tucson, AZ
Cave Canyon Trail #149Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 05 2020
jladderud
Hiking12.80 Miles 3,600 AEG
Hiking12.80 Miles   6 Hrs   26 Mns   2.42 mph
3,600 ft AEG   1 Hour   8 Mns Break
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
As the effort to find trails where people ain't continues, I headed to the east side of the Santa Ritas. I was very pleased with the Cave Canyon Trail. The Crest Trail and I are old friends, so no discovering happening there; but it was time to find some snow. The Gardner Canyon Trail was admittedly nothing special, except for some very charming streams. It was also nice to bag a new peak: Florida Peak.
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2 archives
Nov 17 2019
Mountain_Rat
avatar

 Guides 11
 Routes 103
 Photos 663
 Triplogs 218

57 male
 Joined Jul 14 2011
 Tucson, AZ
Gardner n Cave Canyons, AZ 
Gardner n Cave Canyons, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Nov 17 2019
Mountain_Rat
Hiking15.00 Miles 4,700 AEG
Hiking15.00 Miles   8 Hrs   16 Mns   2.10 mph
4,700 ft AEG   1 Hour   7 Mns Break12 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
A few weeks back I tossed the idea to Linda to do this little loop, which would knock a few trails and peaks off of both of our lists and she liked the idea, so we set it up. I've wanted to get over to this side of the Santa Ritas for quite a long while, but even for a Tucsonan, it's a drive, so I really was happy that Linda was willing to make the trip down.

We got an early start, but ended up stuck behind a Wide Load on the Sonoita Hwy, so that kinda washed out, but we ended up starting about 07:45.

We headed up the Gardner trail, getting the sunny section out of the way early, so that Linda didn't have to use the 'H' word. This seems to have been a good choice, as we made good time and were topping out at Wrightson before we knew it (or at least it seemed like it). From there, we could see the rest of our elevation gain just across Baldy Saddle, and were not intimidated by it in the least, so we headed off to confront it. The trip across the Crest was beautiful and I spent some time to really orient myself as opposed to just charging through. I must say, there's a lot to take in. We got off track a little when trying to tag Mt Ian (or so we think), but eventually got our act together and headed on. Next stop, Florida Peak, this time with no trouble, except for the ladybug infestation during our break at the summit. From here it would all be downhill, and that's obviously what the bear thought too. Oh, did I mention that we saw a bear on the Sawmill Trail? Well we did. While Linda may have nailed a pic of it, mine turned out looking like the Loch Ness Monster dancing with Bigfoot. Moving along, we finished out the best section of the hike heading down the Cave Canyon. This section is as nicely groomed as any in southern AZ, easy to follow and with little dead fall (we had expected much worse). The canopy has a nice balance of tree to sky, while having a very open feel to it. The canyon bottom is wide compared to most canyon trails I'm used to. It had sort of a meadowy effect, and actually offered a number of level camp spots and a meandering stream bed. As you might expect, the nicest section came to an end too quickly. Really, the whole trip ended too quickly. The drive considered, this was a great hike with diverse terrain, and Linda is a blast to hike with, so it could have gone on longer as far as I'm concerned (but I didn't have to drive back to Phoenix).

Another great loop, over a few new trails = another great day outside.

Thanks for driving down Linda!
Fauna
Fauna
Black Bear
_____________________
Matt
3 archives
Nov 17 2019
LindaAnn
avatar

 Guides 42
 Routes 382
 Photos 3,509
 Triplogs 1,203

40 female
 Joined Dec 24 2007
 Ahwatukee, AZ
Wrightson-Florida Peak loop, AZ 
Wrightson-Florida Peak loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Nov 17 2019
LindaAnn
Hiking15.00 Miles 4,700 AEG
Hiking15.00 Miles   8 Hrs   18 Mns   2.08 mph
4,700 ft AEG   1 Hour   5 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Route Scout GPS Route Recorded on Route Scout View
Matt suggested an alternate route to Wrightson, and it was mostly new territory for me, so I was interested. The road in was not too bad, lots of washboard, but generally in good shape. We got started on the Link Trail by around 0745 and quickly started gaining elevation. After about a half mile of Link, we got onto Gardner Canyon Trail and continued the climb. The trail is mostly in decent shape, and easy to follow, but overgrown in some places. Not much shade, but we were early enough in the morning to where it wasn't hot yet.

Once at Super Trail, we headed north and took a short break before heading up to Baldy Saddle. From there, we headed up to Wrightson. We saw 6 hikers between the saddle and summit--the only people we saw all day. Windy at the summit, so we only stayed for a few minutes. High clouds were moving in from the south, offering some welcome shade.

Once back down at the saddle, we continued north on the Crest Trail. Side to Mt Ian, or something near Mt Ian, as I am not sure we made it to the true summit. There seemed to be 3 high points, and we went to the 2 southern ones, but I have a feeling the high point to the north may have been the real summit. Close enough in this case. Continuing north on Crest, it was nice walking through the pines for short stretches.

At Florida Saddle, we headed east on Sawmill towards Florida Peak. The trail is very overgrown and brushy. As we neared the peak, we left the trail and headed up the west side of the peak. Fairly easy off trail hiking, mostly a matter of avoiding manzanita. Views from the summit were limited, but there were rocks to sit on for a snack break. Lots of ladybugs up there. On the way back down, we spotted a bear below us, but my attempt at a picture was a blurry mess. It sauntered off into the trees, not to be seen again.

Once back down at the saddle, we headed down Cave Canyon Trail, which is a gem of a trail. Narrow, but easy to follow, and pleasant scenery the entire way. The creek had water in the lower sections. Parts of this trail reminded me of Miller Canyon in the Huachucas. If I lived in this area, I'd probably spend a lot of time on this trail. Good way to finish out the hike.

Great loop on some lesser used trails. Good to hike with Matt again, and good conversation. Perfect weather for the entire day. It's about a 3 hour drive from Ahwatukee, but well worth it for this loop. Stats are averaged between my Route Scout, my Garmin, and Matt's watch.
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation None
A couple of weeks past prime, but Cave Canyon trail was probably very colorful a few weeks ago.
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Oct 07 2017
Pivo
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 Guides 2
 Routes 379
 Photos 4,345
 Triplogs 3,436

64 male
 Joined Mar 01 2009
 Tucson, AZ
Wrightson Gardner Canyon /Cave Canyon Loop, AZ 
Wrightson Gardner Canyon /Cave Canyon Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Oct 07 2017
Pivo
Hiking12.89 Miles 4,192 AEG
Hiking12.89 Miles   7 Hrs   7 Mns   2.03 mph
4,192 ft AEG      46 Mns Break18 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Nice loop hike to avoid heavy weekend traffic going up Wrightson, The Cave Canyon Trail is very overgrown and is in need of heavy maintenance. Lots of dead fall too.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light
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Aug 08 2015
BiFrost
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 Guides 4
 Routes 356
 Photos 7,656
 Triplogs 911

51 male
 Joined Nov 20 2012
 Phoenix, AZ
Big Casa Blanca-Cave Canyon Loop, AZ 
Big Casa Blanca-Cave Canyon Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Aug 08 2015
BiFrost
Hiking18.72 Miles 5,008 AEG
Hiking18.72 Miles   10 Hrs   24 Mns   2.10 mph
5,008 ft AEG   1 Hour   29 Mns Break
 
1st trip
We drove up Friday night before the hike to car camp off Hwy 83 a mile or so on FS dirt road. Within 5 minutes of parking Border Patrol was there checking on us. He said sheriff saw a vehicle pull off the road and called it in thinking we might be a pickup vehicle for illegals. Told the BP we were car camping for the night and he left. At least we had great lighting show to enjoy some beverages.

Next morning we started at the Cave Canyon trailhead taking the Link trail over to AZT Santa Rita passage. From there followed AZT to junction with Walker Basin Trail which we ascended all the way to Super Trail. Kept an eye on the thunder clouds forming over Wrightson but they always moved off the top. We reached Baldy Saddle and headed up the final climb with the weather still cooperating. Once on top it was mostly clear while 4 thunderstorms raged around the peak so we had great break on top and even time for summit brew :D

Headed back down from the summit and past Baldy Saddle on the Crest Trail towards Florida Saddle. Whereas all the other trails were in good condition this trail needed some work with over growth, dead fall, and fire damage. Once down off the upper section the trail goes out of the burn and is decent rest of the way. It finally rained some at the end after threatening all day but not bad with only light rain. With the recent summer rains most of the creeks and drainages had water. Cave, Big Casa Blanca and Gardner all had very strong flow so despite the hot humid conditions finding water was never an issue.
Named place
Named place
Bear Spring
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light
columbine, lupine, fairy duster

dry Baldy Spring Dry Dry
bone dry

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Bear Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
pipe was dripping but the tank was full with clear water. However, just below the spring nearby Big Casa Blanca Creek was flowing nicely from recent summer rains

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Middle Cave Creek - Santa Ritas Medium flow Medium flow
great water from recent summer rains
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1 archive
Aug 08 2015
slowandsteady
avatar

 Routes 67
 Photos 966
 Triplogs 694

46 female
 Joined Jan 05 2012
 Phoenix,AZ
Big Casa Blanca-Cave Canyon Loop, AZ 
Big Casa Blanca-Cave Canyon Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Aug 08 2015
slowandsteady
Hiking18.72 Miles 5,008 AEG
Hiking18.72 Miles   10 Hrs   24 Mns   2.10 mph
5,008 ft AEG   1 Hour   29 Mns Break
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
We only saw 7 other hikers and they were all between Baldy Saddle and the Summit!
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light
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Apr 04 2015
John9L
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 Guides 6
 Routes 174
 Photos 5,073
 Triplogs 1,633

male
 Joined Mar 12 2004
 Scottsdale, AZ
Mt Wrightson from Gardner Canyon Rd, AZ 
Mt Wrightson from Gardner Canyon Rd, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Apr 04 2015
John9L
Hiking13.11 Miles 4,276 AEG
Hiking13.11 Miles
4,276 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
We drove up on Friday night and car camped at the Trailhead off Gardner Canyon Road. We were both surprised at how many RV’s were parked along the road. This is a very active camping area.

We woke on Saturday morning and got situated for the hike and started hiking around 9am. The first mile follows an old road along the creek. This is a very enjoyable section and is relatively easy. The grade steepens after roughly a mile as you steadily gain elevation. This goes on for a really long time as we progressed toward the Florida Saddle and then followed the Crest Trail towards Mount Wrightson Summit.

The peak eventually comes into view as you descend to the saddle and then make the final push to the summit. There were only a handful of people up there and we took a break to eat some lunch and enjoy the views. From there we flew down the Link Trail and were back to the jeep around 4pm.

This was a great hike! I really enjoyed approaching Wrightson from the east. The Gardner Canyon Road is in great condition and is easy to follow. All the trails we followed were in good condition besides some random dead fall along the way. Wrightson is a beautiful summit and I might hike it again before summer sets in.
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Apr 04 2015
clairebear
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 Photos 178
 Triplogs 158

38 female
 Joined Oct 26 2011
 Tempe, AZ
Mt Wrightson from Gardner Canyon Rd, AZ 
Mt Wrightson from Gardner Canyon Rd, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Apr 04 2015
clairebear
Hiking13.11 Miles 4,276 AEG
Hiking13.11 Miles
4,276 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
We rolled in on Friday night under the cover of darkness. All the campsites on the side of the access road were occupied and I think I've never seen so many RV's in one area before. I guess we missed the memo that it was going to be so crowded with campers :? . We finally pulled up to the trailhead and just camped there. The next morning it was cool to see the area for the first time, since it was already dark the night before when we got there.

The first part of the hike follows along a creek and is pretty easy so I was able to make good time for this portion. The terrain is fairly lush and green.
Further up the trail gets steeper as we enter the uphill portion. The switchbacks were far from steep so it was pretty easy. I was able to make good time ( except for when I was climbing over the many large fallen tree obstacles in my path LOL ) The terrain was so beautiful and ever-changing so I really enjoyed this whole hike.

Another bonus was the fact that we didn't pass any people until we got to the Saddle. Since the saddle is a convergence of a couple different trails there are a lot more people from here to the summit. This portion of the hike also offers the first major view of the peak. It looks so impressive and imposing- almost impossible looking to reach the summit.

At the summit we enjoyed a quick lunch with awesome views. I glanced thought the thickest summit register that I maybe have ever seen and we commenced our decent. My shoes were starting to rub a bit so I need to remember to get some mole skin for the future.

~Wrightson is a beautiful place I can see why so many people enjoy this hike. ^^^ I'd definitely like to check out some of the other trails in this area. ~
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Nov 10 2014
markthurman53
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 Guides 104
 Routes 585
 Photos 7,129
 Triplogs 488

67 male
 Joined Jun 27 2015
 Tucson, Arizona
Cave Canyon Trail #149, AZ 
Cave Canyon Trail #149, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Nov 10 2014
markthurman53
Hiking9.30 Miles 3,055 AEG
Hiking9.30 Miles   5 Hrs   49 Mns   2.26 mph
3,055 ft AEG   1 Hour   42 Mns Break15 LBS Pack
 
Partners none no partners
This hike starts at the end of Gardner canyon Road. Two trails start here, Cave Canyon Trail #149 and Gardner Canyon Trail #143 (I think it is also called Link Trail). This is a round trip hike up Cave Canyon Trail to Florida Ridge, then along Florida Crest Trail to first saddle along Florida Ridge. Cave Canyon Trail is 3.8 miles of continuous uphill, not as bad as Florida Canyon Trail but this is on the South facing slope so there is a lot more sun exposure. Cave canyon Trail did not have anything that stood out other than some great views of Mount Wrightson and Florida Ridge. I love the views from the saddle along Florida Ridge and the grassy saddle is a nice place to take a break.
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Oct 11 2014
chumley
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 Guides 78
 Routes 679
 Photos 14,857
 Triplogs 1,536

47 male
 Joined Sep 18 2002
 Tempe, AZ
Cave Gardner Loop, AZ 
Cave Gardner Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Oct 11 2014
chumley
Hiking12.91 Miles 4,263 AEG
Hiking12.91 Miles   6 Hrs   49 Mns   2.50 mph
4,263 ft AEG   1 Hour   39 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Had to run an errand with Team Buford™ to wine country to pick some grapes. And Jon had a car-camping birthday thing to do. So I tagged along but made them do a hike too.

I needed the county high-point. None of us had ever hiked Wrightson.

The east side is an absolute dream. No fees. Not a single car at the trailhead. Didn't see a single other person all day, except a few at the peak who had come up from the more popular west side.

There was running water absolutely everywhere. It was a real nice surprise. The top of the Cave trail gets really steep, and it was a grind up to Florida saddle. The traverse over the Crest trail to Wrightson was a bit more rolling, with some downhills for a break. Some juvenile aspen have started to sprout, and they were just beginning to turn.

Made it to the summit in 4 hours, and took a short break before heading back down trying to beat sunset. The trip down was a relentless descent. It looked to be a bit more exposed and I think it would be tough to come up this way during any kind of sunny/hot season. There's a stretch of trail where the ponderosa is really making a comeback. It's remarkable to see.

The mileages marked on the signs around the mountain are wrong for both Cave and Gardner due to both of them now having closed sections of road leading to the trailheads -- essentially the trailheads for each trail are now just farther away than they were before. No biggie, as both of them parallel their respective creeks and the sounds of flowing water is always refreshing.

A nice night at camp was followed up by a morning in Sonoita gathering grapes and loading a 55-gallon drum into my truck for the drive back to the pub--with a stop in Tucson for lunch :))

We stopped at DQ at picacho peak to load up on some nitrates but the line was 15 deep so we just got back in the car and kept going :(

I've never hiked Wrightson from Madera Canyon, but I have a tough time believing it's any better than the east side ascent. And making a loop out of it is just an added bonus!
Flora
Flora
Arizona Grape
Meteorology
Meteorology
Fire Burn Area & Recovery
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Isolated
New growth aspens up top just starting to yellow. Some sycamores in the lower drainages are beginning to turn. No other colors yet.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Baldy Spring Dripping Dripping
No flow from the pipe, but a little in the trough, and a nice deep pool of water sheltered underground next to the spring box where the pipe comes from.

dry Cave Creek Dry Dry
Flow had gone underground by this point, and downstream.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Gardner Canyon - Santa Ritas Medium flow Medium flow
Great flow. Could hear the cascades several minutes away.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Middle Cave Creek - Santa Ritas Medium flow Medium flow
Great flow in the creek. Probably at least 5cfs.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Upper Cave Creek - Santa Ritas Light flow Light flow
Perhaps aided by rain last week, but drainage contained a nice stream running down the mountain. 1-gallon + per minute.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Upper Gardner Canyon - Santa Ritas Light flow Light flow
Light flow, small cascades, plenty of water to filter. Much better option than Baldy Spring! At least on this day. Good summer monsoon season may have made the mountain unusually wet however.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Wrightson Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Dripping from cliff face and running down the trail across 2 switchbacks. Looks like this is a frequent occurrence from surrounding flora, though the true source is unknown. No problem to get half a gallon in a minute here.
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Championing breakfast since 1994.
1 archive
Sep 07 2013
GrottoGirl
avatar

 Guides 3
 Routes 311
 Photos 11,581
 Triplogs 1,356

45 female
 Joined Sep 18 2009
 Tucson, AZ
Gardner Canyon #143Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Sep 07 2013
GrottoGirl
Hiking12.79 Miles 4,337 AEG
Hiking12.79 Miles   6 Hrs   32 Mns   2.39 mph
4,337 ft AEG   1 Hour   11 Mns Break
 
Partners partners
Baja Arizona Hiking
MyRudy
Pivo
RedwallNHops
Great day for this hike since it was rainy and cloudy in the beginning part of the day. This hike goes through a lot of burn area, so shade isn't always available.

The flowers along the crest trail were amazing!

Great group of fast hikers!
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Extreme
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Sep 07 2013
RedwallNHops
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 Guides 1
 Routes 10
 Photos 446
 Triplogs 1,147

45 male
 Joined Dec 22 2003
 Tucson, AZ
Gardner Canyon #143Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Sep 07 2013
RedwallNHops
Hiking12.79 Miles 4,337 AEG
Hiking12.79 Miles   6 Hrs   32 Mns   2.39 mph
4,337 ft AEG   1 Hour   11 Mns Break
 no routesno photosets
Partners partners
Baja Arizona Hiking
GrottoGirl
MyRudy
Pivo
Love this loop.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Extreme
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Mar 30 2013
JuanJaimeiii
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 Routes 566
 Photos 7,969
 Triplogs 1,703

53 male
 Joined Jan 30 2011
 Chandler, AZ
Gardner Canyon to Mt Wrightson, AZ 
Gardner Canyon to Mt Wrightson, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Mar 30 2013
JuanJaimeiii
Hiking12.50 Miles 4,333 AEG
Hiking12.50 Miles   5 Hrs   4 Mns   2.74 mph
4,333 ft AEG      30 Mns Break
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
This one has been on the Nick and JJ "to do" list for quite sometime. Today was actually supposed to be a Grand Enchantment Trail day but with Easter tomorrow Dave simply had too much going on.

We decided to do this one instead. It turned out to be a real winner. We had some concerns about the Gardner Canyon Trails condition. Boy were we wrong on that one. It was actually in fantastic shape and it's clear that there has been some recent work done to it. A big thanks goes out to whom ever competed that task!

Once up top of good Ol' Wrightson we took a few moments to take it in. The air was cool and crisp. Then along came a couple runner types. They mentioned Boone which perked our ears up. After that we continued on down to the Crest Trail and over to Florida Saddle. From there it was a nice trip down the Cave Canyon Trail and finally back to the Jeep on the Link.

This was an awesome hike and afterwards we went and grabbed some mexican food near where Tricky Nicky works. Good stuff!

P.S. You missed a good one Dave! It's what cha get for making me get up so early. :D
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Mar 30 2013
johnlp
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 Guides 1
 Routes 9
 Photos 4,556
 Triplogs 3,666

63 male
 Joined Mar 16 2008
 chandler,az
Gardner Canyon to Mt Wrightson, AZ 
Gardner Canyon to Mt Wrightson, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Mar 30 2013
johnlp
Hiking12.50 Miles 4,333 AEG
Hiking12.50 Miles   5 Hrs   4 Mns   2.74 mph
4,333 ft AEG      30 Mns Break
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Very cool hike with John and Nick. Great views from the Crest trail. A little snow left on the trails up high. Nothing treacherous though. Flowing water along the Cave Canyon trail was nice. Not much green at this altitude yet compared to the desert floor. High overcast made for excellent hiking conditions. Fun day, good company. Thanks for driving JJ. :)
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“Good people drink good beer.” Hunter S Thompson
average hiking speed 2.33 mph
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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.

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