|View of Mt. Wrightson from Madera Canyon|
We traveled only about 60 miles south of Tucson this week to Madera Canyon. Madera Canyon is located in the Santa Rita Mountains in the Coronado National Forest. Our group of eight hikers agreed that this is one of the most enjoyable hikes in our repertoire. The hike is pretty moderate. It is about 5 miles round trip with an elevation gain of about 800 feet.
|Beautiful day in the canyon|
Madera Canyon is one of the places where you can enjoy multiple activities. There is something for everyone. You can enjoy hiking, camping, picnicking, bird watching or simply staying at one of the rustic lodges and enjoying nature. Madera Canyon is crisscrossed by many trails. One guidebook states that there are over 200 trails. JoAnn and I were standing and talking at one of our short breaks, and just looking across the expanse in front of us, we were able to make out quite a few trails. Many of these trails are unmarked – another good reason for having a guide and seasoned hikers along.
|Lead us JoAnn!|
Well, our hike was marvelous! We started at the Whitehouse Picnic area and followed the trail to the nature trail. This trail is absolutely wonderful because it has markers naming many of the trees and plants. Since our resident “botanist” George did not join us, the signs were very helpful. One of the most noticeable things once you start the hike is the difference in vegetation. There were so many different types of pine trees, we lost count. Arizona sycamores, Apache pines, Cypress, Ponderosa pines, and Alligator cypress. Even though the saguaro cactus is usually present on most of our hikes, I don’t think I spotted even one on this trail.
Anyway, one of the other draws for Madera Canyon is the birds. The brochure published by the Friends of the Madera Canyon states over 250 birds frequent the canyon and the large group of birdwatchers in attendance seemed to be enjoying a good day. JoAnn and I shared a private joke when we came across one large group that were all staring up in one tree with their binoculars and when we asked what they saw, they answered “an Arizona woodpecker”. We both have those pesky little critters in abundance in our backyards.
Our trail followed a creek for a little while and we enjoyed the peaceful sound of the water. The trails are beautifully maintained and there are foot bridges over the stream in some spots. We only had one person come up with a wet foot in the spot that we actually had to climb over on stones.
|Judy & Barbara|
We also always enjoy running into fellow hikers on the trail. They all have interesting stories or come from interesting places. This hike was no exception.
|Barbara, Mike and Jim chatting with passing hiker|
The views along the trail were breathtaking and we made many stops to enjoy the view of Mt. Wrightson. Mt. Wrightson is the highest point in the Tucson area at an elevation of 9,453 feet. It was named for William Wrightson who was a miner and business man in the area, who was killed by Apaches during the Battle of Fort Buchanan. In 1958 three boy scouts who were hiking with a group died in a storm on Mt. Wrightson. There is a memorial that was dedicated and is maintained in their honor. Just as an aside – my husband and I spent Mother’s Day with a group of friends last year at the Crown C Ranch which is on the grounds of old Fort Buchanan.
After lunch at the Mt. Wrightson Picnic Area we started our trek back to the trailhead. We used the Madera Canyon Road on the return because on that route we were able to get a chance to stop along the way and take in the Santa Rita Lodge, the Madera Kubo B&B, and the Chuparosa Inn. There was also a gift shop along the road.
|How old do you think?|
Another beautiful hike completed, we headed back to civilization with our heads high, and hearts light. I love hiking!
|Santa Rita Mountains|
|View of the valley shrouded in haze below|
|Interesting rock formations|
|That's quartzite hiding under those trees|
|Now that's a happy hiker|
See you on the trails......