||A steep out and back
climb to the highest peak in the Santa Rita Mountains.
||From Tucson drive south
on I-10 until you reach the I-19 exit. Drive about 25 miles on I-19 and take the
exit for Continental. Drive southeast on this paved road following the signs to the
Santa Rita Lodge and Madera Canyon. After 7 miles the road will make a 90 degree
turn to the right continue straight at this point onto the dirt (ok for passenger cars)
Forest Road (FR) 62. After 0.3 miles FR 62 makes a 90 degree left turn, stay
straight proceeding onto FR 62A. Drive another 2.9 miles until you reach the signed
Florida Canyon Trailhead and parking area on the left.
||Easy - signs point the
way to the summit
||15.2 miles, 5540'
||40 F at the base dropping
to 20 F at the summit. It was quite cool & windy with some clouds and a few snow
flurries. The summit was down right cold.
||From the Florida Canyon
Trailhead (0.0 miles) begin hiking uphill along a fence for the Florida Canyon
Experimental Range Headquarters. After a few minutes you will come to a signed
junction near the headquarters. Proceed left at this junction. The trail
follow the general coarse of Florida Canyon, crossing it a few times then climbing up onto
the left shoulder with some nice views across the canyon as you get higher. The
canyon supports a variety of grasses, oak, juniper, ocotillo and cactus, gradually
becoming more forested with altitude. Eventually the oak gives way to Douglas Fir
and the trail begins a series of long steep switchbacks until arriving at the signed
Florida Saddle (3.7 miles). Turn right and follow the sign for the Crest Trail and
Mt. Wrightson. The trail climbs a bit less steeply for 0.3 miles to the signed
junction for Armour Spring (0.4 miles down the spur trail), there is also a good campsite
here. Continue on the Crest Trail climbing moderately as the trail eventually swings
around to ascend on the south side of the mountain. Eventually you will cross an
area that shows evidence of fire damage before dropping down to a signed junction at Baldy
Saddle (6.7 miles). Follow the signs straight ahead and follow the rocky switchbacks
the remaining 0.9 miles to the summit (7.6 miles). The peak is composed entirely of
rock that drops steeply away on all sides allowing unobstructed 360 degree views of the
surrounding country side. After signing the register and taking in the scenery
return the way you came.
This is a nice and scenic hike on a well maintained trail - and you'll get a
good workout along the way. It was somewhat chilly the day the author climbed this
peak, however only one other person was seen the entire day. During the warmer
months I suspect you are likely to encounter many summit bound hikers, though most will
probably elect to come in from the shorter Madera Canyon route. The author and his
wife took just under 8 hours to complete this hike.
||'Arizona Trails - 100
Hikes in Canyon and Sierra' by David Mazel
||Click picture for larger
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