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Mount Wrightson - Santa Rita Mountains

Summary: A steep out and back climb to the highest peak in the Santa Rita Mountains.
Directions: 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.
Road Conditions: Passenger Car
Navigation: Easy - signs point the way to the summit
Length: 15.2 miles, 5540' elevation gain
Date Hiked: December, 1999
Weather Conditions: 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. 
Required Skills:
Hike Description: 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.
Rating (1-5 stars):
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.
Books: 'Arizona Trails - 100 Hikes in Canyon and Sierra' by David Mazel
Photos: Click picture for larger view, click your browser's 'Back' button to return to this page.
Posing with the mountain
in the background.
A quick photo at the top before
decending to warmer temperatures.