Zay's Arizona Trail Page .
This page is just getting started, so check back every few months for updates.
As Segment Steward of the Canelo Hills East Segment I am building this page primarily as a resource for people planning to hike this segment. There will also be some information about the adjacent segments, and some general AZT info. There are also some links at the bottom of the page, to other AZT pages. I will describe the trail from the Southern end, moving North. The information provided will be for through hikers single segment hikers, and in-n-out hikers.
The Arizona Trail starts on the Arizona / Mexico border, at marker #102. It is reached by hiking downcountry from the Coronado National Monument parking lot at Montezuma Pass in the Southern end of the Huachuca Mt.s. From the start, it is 23 miles to the Parker Lake Arizona Trail parking area. This is the terminus of segment #1, Huachuca Mt.s, and the beginning of the #2 segment, Canelo Hills East, which is the segment I am steward of. All the segments South of I-10 get quite a bit of Illegal traffic, both humans and drugs. While I am unaware of any dangerous conflicts between AZT hikers and Illegal Un-Documented Aliens ( UDA's from here out ), you should be aware that you may encounter them on any of the segments South of I-10. You will most certainly encounter their trash. If you are able, packing some of this out is always nice. on S.#1, you will definitely see more than you can carry. If you encounter UDA's, it is best to behave in a friendly, casual, non-confrontational manner. In general, they do not want trouble either, and may be in trouble, lacking food, water, or shelter from the elements. You will also see their trails joining and departing from the AZT, make sure you stay on the right one.
Segment # 2 Starts about a half mile South of Parker Lake. At some point a bit of trail may be established over to the lake, as for now, you would have to bushwhack to reach the lake in .5 miles, although if you do it right there's an old road to the dam most of that way. By hiking up ( Northeast ) on FR 194 ( Forest Road 194 ), the road that the parking lot is on, and then turning North ( left ) on FR 48, you reach the Junction of FR 48, Hwy. 83, and the lake road. Turning West ( left ) will take you down to the store, and shore, of the lake. The distance is 1.7 miles. The store has limited hours of operation, and limited supplies. Theres an established $10 a night campground on the north side of the Lake (the side opposite the AZT). It has running water, picnic tables and bathrooms.
Elevations and mileage approximate.
The trail begins as one mile of double track road, that I hope to close before long. The road is little used. It trends downhill from 5676ft. , and Westerly, dropping a bit more than 200 feet along a ridge, before taking a sharp upswing to 5500. Along this first mile there are nice views into the San Rafael Valley, and Mexico. The Huachuca's loom to your East, and there are several views of the lake to your North. There are several grassy benches along this stretch, nice places to camp, but right along the road/trail. There is no water at the trailhead, so if you through hike and are not able to get any water in Scotia canyon, the lake is your best option. There is also water about 2.2 miles into the segment, if you have enough to make it that far.
Continuing Westerly, and gently downward, the second mile finds you at your first gate. You will have dropped only 200 feet, though there's a bit of up and down to get there. Altogether, easy traveling, so enjoy. By now you're into Parker Canyon proper. Shaded country, views take in the surrounding ridges. 5300 ft.
You drop a bit more than 100 feet, and come to the creek in the first .2 mile. The creek has always had water at this point, which is 1.4 miles below the dam, every time I've been here over the last 7 years. This is the only year round reliable running water on this segment. This area is off limits to cattle, but they may leak through the fence, just a few hundred yards downstream at times. The creek is easy to hike downcountry, and brushy and bad to hike upstream. There is a wire gate on the North side of the creek, as you go downstream.There is some level ground across the creek, but it's too close to the creek for the conscientious camper. There's also a bit of level ground near that first gate, back up the trail, which is probably your best bet. From here, the trail crosses the creek and enters a side canyon. It will follow this canyon for the next mile plus a little. Right after you cross the creek, heading Northwesterly, as you were when you encountered the creek, you will come to the 2nd gate of the segment right away. The canyon, and the trail makes a hard jog to the West ( left ) shortly after this gate. It rims around, then drops onto the canyon floor, and crosses the creek bed. This creek will have water in wet times. The trail crosses back and forth a few times, as it Generally follows the creek bottom. At .7 into this mile, the trail will have climbed up a bit on the East side of the canyon, and you will go through the 3rd Gate. There are two old jeep trails that leave this canyon, on the West ( left ) side, one at about .4 mile past the gate, and another right about the end of the third mile. Stay in the creek bed.
5300 ft. The canyon boxes up a bit in the first .1 mile. .2 mile further, and you start to climb a ridge that is in between the canyon you have been in, and another canyon that comes in from the East ( Right ). Keeping an open eye to the East, you will see a stock tank about .15 mile off the trail, right where another drainage enters the " East Fork " of the canyon you just left. This water is really only relevant if you are hiking South on the segment, and are completely out of water and thirsty, as it is a pretty short distance from the much better water in Parker Canyon. The last 3/4 of this mile climbs the ridge, crosses a saddle, and then works around to the West ( left ) side of the ridge. This brings you to the first switchbacks, and the start of the really up and down Part of this segment. In-n-out dayhikers will probably want to head back before the climbing starts, as it is mostly uphill back to the trailhead. As you are climbing the ridge, before reaching the saddle, you will see the highest point in the Canelo Hills, almost directly in front of you, Due North. This peak is known as VABM 6257. This mile ends at 5600 ft.
Once past the switchbacks, the ridge you are on will first climb, and then descend gently. There's a little high spot off to the West ( left ) at about .25 mile. A good place to rest a bit, and look around you. To the North and East of you ( up trail, and right of the trail ) is a high ridge, including the VABM 6257 peak. This ridge is the Southern extent of what I call the spine of the Canelos. As the Canelo's run from Their Northern most point South of Hwy. 82, they trend Southeasterly, and end at Parker Canyon.. There is a well defined central set of ridges through most of the range, which is what I refer to as the spine. There are definitely gaps in the spine, some of which you will pass through. You are now well into the range, and will do quite a bit of up and down hiking. The trail leaves this ridge in a saddle, and drifts West ( left ).
********************************************** If you were hoping to hit the top of the range, now is your chance. Instead of following the trail, cross the saddle and stay with the ridge. It becomes increasingly steep, climbing 500 feet in .45 mile. Now you are on top of the spine, and turning to the East ( right ) you can climb the 200 or so feet in .3 mile, to the top of the range. WHAT A NICE VIEW ! Next time I'm up there I'll take detailed notes, but the view includes the Huachuca's, several ranges in Mexico, The Patagonias , Santa Ritas, Santa Catalinas, Rincons, and several others. You can see the three highest peaks in Southern Arizona. Miller peak - 9466 ( Huachucas ) Mt. Wrightson/ Baldy - 9453 ( Santa Ritas ) and way North, Mt. Lemmon - 9157 ( Catalinas, 70 miles away ) as well as Baboquiviri - 7730 the home of the Tohono O'Odham god I'Itoi, also 70 miles away. From here it is probably easier to bushwhack along the ridge almost exactly 1 mile, and rejoin the AZT in the third major saddle after the ridge where you came up.****************************************
For those of you who stayed on the trail, you will cross the top of a drainage, a saddle, and another drainage before climbing up another ridge. At the end of this mile you will be at about 5700 ft.
The climb continues, gradually at first. As the ridge gets steeper, the trail wanders off to the East ( right ) side of it, and then switches back to the West side, climbing to a saddle at 6060 ft. after about .7 mile. You are now at the highest point on this segment. Detouring to the West ( left ) a short hike of about .2 mile, will gain you another 100 ft, and a big view to the North, South, and West. Definitely worth it if you did not hit the top of the range, and want to get a good high view, even though you have to cross a barb wire fence. The end of mile 6 leaves you at 5800 ft. just above a saddle between Collins Canyon and Cherry Creek Canyon. It's just under three miles back to the Lake down Collins Canyon, but there's not much in the way of a trail.
The trail takes you across the saddle, and rims around the East ( right ) side of the Cherry Creek drainage. You will go through the 4th gate of the segment It drops a couple hundred feet, before turning East ( right ) up a side drainage. The trail begins to climb this drainage, and crosses it. Working it's way up, it crosses once again, before coming to the 5th gate of the segment.Then the trail passes through a saddle, and rims around the North ( left ) side of a drainage that runs down into Turkey Creek. The trail joins a jeep road at the end of this mile. 5700 ft.
The next 2.5 miles follow this jeep road. I am working on getting approval to re-route the trail, and avoid this road, a large chunk of which is also right next to a fence. Follow the road, which rims around a bit, then joins a fence, and they both run down the top of the ridge. At the end of the mile, you are at 5450 ft. The road has been traveling Northwest, but about half way through this mile, it veers North.
About .2 mile into this mile, you turn West ( left ) and go through the 6th gate. You will come to a stock tank that may have water in it. The road/trail continues on past the tank, down canyon. Welcome to gate #7. This is a shallow canyon, a bit more than 100 feet deep on the East side, Less on the West side. This is Pauline Canyon. Around .7 mile, the road forks, and you must turn West ( left ), to follow the upcountry fork, which soon is going South.
*****At this point, if you need help, just keep going down country, and you will come upon some homes in about 3 miles. *********
After about .2 mile, the road/trail turns West again, and shortly after begins to climb out of the canyon. 5400 ft.
As you climb out, you will pass a new well. It was drilled, but does not produce water. A bit further on, you top out on a bench, with views of the Canelo hills all around, and the Huachuca's to the East ( behind you ). Keep following the road/trail, as it meanders past some old prospectors holes. Lots of exposed rock around here. The road/trail drops down into the top end of Middle Canyon, then climbs out again, and the trail diverges to the North ( right ) of the road, taking a nicer route to the top of a small ridge, where they rejoin. The road begins to peter out as you work your way down the ridge, and by the time you are back in Middle Canyon, it is gone, though some monkeys on Quads sometimes run down into the canyon. Traveling through Middle Canyon, it is very hard to find yourself on the map. Several side canyons run into it, and they all look much alike. The trail runs along the bottom, then rims up on the West ( left ) side several times through Middle Canyon. At one point, about the end of this mile, the trail comes down to the canyon bottom but stays off the creek bed 10 to 20 yards. If you are observant, you will see some exposed bedrock here, and very likely a bit of pooled water. This is the most likely place to find water on this segment, after Parker Canyon. I have seen this spot dry, but most times there is some water, and it is often pretty good for filtering. There may be water running in wet times. Also in this stretch , there is a dirt stock tank up a side canyon to the West. Very hard to find, as the map is hard to match to the ground in here. I intend at some point to trim a very faint trail, and leave some kind of indicator, but for now, it's not worth looking for. If you are in desperate need of water, better to keep going downcanyon to the homes in the Canelo area, than to wander around looking for a dirt tank that may be dry. It is 3 miles to Canelo area.
Mile ends at 5350 ft.
about .35 mile from the water, the trail crosses the wash to the East ( right ) side briefly. Be observant, and notice wire remnants of a small corral. PAY ATTENTION because the trail is part of a UDA/cow trail that keeps heading down canyon, and you will want to diverge from it. The trail crosses back to the West ( left ) side, very shortly after having crossed the other way, and within sight of the wire corral. it drifts up a ridge, climbing gently, and not very high. On top, the trail you are walking continues down country, but the Arizona trail is a distinct trail that makes a 90 degree turn to the West ( left )There should be a large rock cairn here. I have gone over this feature in detail with people, and still had them miss the turn.
****Note * there is a canyon that comes in from the West ( left ) just before this corral/ridge. There is a pretty distinct UDA trail in this canyon. This side trail follows the easy grade of the canyon bottom, and about .15 mile up this side canyon, where it gets boxy, there are often pools of water. In a critical situation, you might filter some there, but the UDA trash in the area ( especially the soiled paper wastes ) make this a less than desirable water hole, although it is a naturally beautiful spot. ***
So, after having made the sharp left turn, the trail starts up this ridge, gently climbing on an excellent tread. Enjoy it while it lasts, because the grade gets steeper, and the tread gets poor. Another spot where some future re-alignment will be a great improvement. Good thing about this part though, is some cool rocks you go through, and the views opening up as you climb. If you look carefully, and can read a map well, you can see a lot of the last 5 miles that you hiked. at the end of mile 11 you are almost up the ridge, at 5600 ft.
.2 mile takes you up the final 150 ft. to the top of the spine, once again. Well, not the top, but pretty much on top. A faint trail diverges to the West ( left ) here, as the AZT makes a hard turn to the North ( right ). The faint trail leads to a saddle, where there are some places level enough to camp. There is also a barb wire fence, running North and South. There are also some very cool rocks, which are great to explore and watch sunset from, should you camp here.
The AZT, turns North, and rims along the East side of the spine, occasionally toping out, with views into the San Rafael Valley. Views to the North and East take in the Whetstone, Mustang, and Dragoon Mt.s. Unfortunately, the trail here begins to run alongside a fence. The views of the mountains and valleys, and of the fence, fade in and out as you pass through here, obscured by vegetation. I am working out an ambitious plan to re align the parts of the fence that offend, and then also be able to enhance some of the vistas through trail re-alignment. Very long term stuff.
.8 mile into mile 12, you will top out at 5900 ft. It's almost all downhill from here to the Canelo Pass Trail Head. Right in here you will pass through gate #8 for this segment. The tread here varies, sometimes getting pretty bad, as the trail passes through some rocks. After the fence is moved, a bit of meander in the trail should improve this issue. 5850 ft.
The trail begins dropping, as it heads due North for a while. The fence is here too, it is a different fence, and much less conspicuous for the most part. The Santa Rita's, and the Catalina's and Rincons join the ranges in the vista in this area. After about .5 mile, the trail turns West ( left ) and passes through Gate #9, the last one in this segment. Following the fence briefly while heading North again, the trail the drops off to the West, and away from the fence. The trail starts to lose some elevation here, quite rapidly in a few spots. There are a couple nice little benches to camp on in this area, advisable for those who don't want to camp near the road, which is the only option as you get near the trail head. There's definitely a few places that need a slight re-routing, or switchback, which are in the short term plan. by the end of mile 13, you will drop about 450 ft.
5400 ft. you've got it made, now. The trail gradient gets much more gradual, as you've made it down to what I call the South Fork of the Western Canyon. After being exposed for much of the last mile, you are now under a mixed canopy. FR 799 is off to the West
( left ) just a short distance. You will end up walking along a wash that parallels the road. In wet times, there may even be water flowing. at .3 mile, you are across the road from the Flower tank. A dirt tank, not great water, but the only water in dry times. In really dry times, it's dry too. About .6 mile, the trail crosses the road.
.1 mile to the trailhead. I know it's supposed to be 14.5 miles, but I always come up short using my mapping program. Which means none of the mileages are accurate in this description. But they will give you a very good idea of what the trail is like, and pretty accurate relationships between landmarks and points of interest.
There are some good camping areas once you hit the leveler grades. They are close enough to the road that you will hear traffic, which is not too awfully heavy. Traffic does happen through here late into the night at times. Through hikers will be advised to camp on one of the benches mentioned last mile, or hike about .5 mile down the Canelo West Segment, to get away from this. The first .5 mile is easy hiking.
First, the Official page of the ATA
This Page has a very good list of trail info, inculding the author's notes on the many segments he has hiked.