TRIP DATES: January 23-26, 2018

LENGTH:46 miles measured with Garmin 64st.


TOTAL ELEVATION LOSS & GAIN: 22,000 feet; average 5,500 feet per day

TRAILHEAD(S): Cave Creek-Gardner Creek road junction on FS 92 west of Sonoita

DIFFICULTY: Moderate, a few easy and a few very steep road sections

BEST TIME TO HIKE: Good year-round. Ice, snow, wintry conditions possible Dec-March; lower sections hot June-Sept.

WATER: Pools or running: Gardner Cr, Tunnel Spr, Bear Spr, Upper Walker Tank, Walker Spr, Temporal Gulch, McBeth Spr, Bellows Spr (high elevation north slope springs often frozen in winter) Upper Madera Canyon, drainage above Kent Springs Cabin, Sylvester Spr, Kent Spr (spring box frozen in winter but water in drainage), Sawmill and Aliso Spr. Frozen or altered by fire:  Baldy, Armour and Florida springs.

SOLITUDE TIPS: Avoid Madera Canyon & any trails from this trailhead. Lots of solitude on other trails. Expect thru-hikers on AZT section Feb-April & late fall.

LEAVE NO TRACE: offers camping practices to protect wilderness. Most advice good but we have not found any research verifying the advice to pack a trowel and dig “cat hole” to bury feces 6 inches. Most decomposing agents are in the top organic soil layer so kick a shallow hole or lift a large rock and scuff dark soil or leaf litter on top of feces and paper. This seems preferable to leaving toilet paper and feces on ground or under rocks not mixed with soil-which is surprisingly common in heavily used backpack areas.

TRAIL INFO: Nogales Ranger District recreation staff for current trail conditions. 520-281-2296. Coronado National Forest website describes most Mount Wrightson trails but needs updating:

For instance, does not list trail #940 linking Bog & Armour springs. Also describes Armour Spring trail traversing Douglas fir stands but conifer in Armour basin were denuded in Florida Fire of 2005. Google search “Mount Wrightson” for other hike descriptions.


WILDERNESS MAPS Coronado National Forest 2015. Mount Wrightson and Pajarita Wildernesses is 1:24,000 scale topographic map. A little big and bulky but good for trip planning.

GPS: We used Garmin 64st loaded with Garmin’s 1:24:000-scale West map software. Without GPS, navigating in burned and overgrown areas will be more difficult.