By Ricky Holzer. . Looking east you can see the Santa Rita foothills. So we decided to continue along the Old Baldy Trail. Although it may not look like it, the mountain towers 4,000 feet above where you stand. It is recommended to filter this water if you choose to drink it and honestly this was a perfect opportunity for me to use my Lifestraw for the first time. Continue following the paved road all the way until the end at the Mount Wrightson Picnic Area, then find parking. Since most summit this peak as a day hike and start the day from the desert lowlands of Tucson, you won't have a chance to acclimatize your body. It was a perfect winter-in-the-desert day … Either way, you take the Crest Trail to the summit for breathtaking 360 degree views. The views really start to get good about 3 miles into the hike when it opens up to some of the jagged mountain sides towering above you. Also, Old Baldy is shadier. After reaching the Boy Scout Memorial at the saddle, we returned to the Mount Wrightson Trailhead on the Old Baldy #372 Trail. We arrived in Arizona on the evening of November 11, 2006 and climbed Rice Peak and found the Pinal County Highpoint on November 12th. These trails meet near Josephine Saddle to create a figure 8 on the mountain and can be combined to make a more interesting loop hike. The first part of the trail will be the most crowded since many hikers turn around at Josephine Saddle. Its a bit longer by about a mile but starts the hike with a gentler phase. Follow the direction of the trail head sign and you will begin the ascent in the corner of the parking lot up a white sandy path. Coronado National Forest Weekly ($10) and Annual Passes ($20) are available for purchase at the Santa Rita Lodge, which you'll pass in Madera Canyon on the drive to the trailhead, or at any district office (found in various places in southeastern Arizona). Hoping to get b, Back when we lived in Houston I did physical thera. (Shown as #5 on the map above.) The trail head is located in Madera Canyon at the very end of the South Madera Canyon Road. That trail is not as steep but it is longer than the Old Baldy Trail. Though the Super Trail is longer, it's a more gradual ascent, which may be preferable to some people. The first set of switchbacks is going to be have about 30 of varying lengths over the stretch of about half of a mile, gaining about 540 feet. No matter which lot you park in, walk to the north end of angled spaces on the eastern side of the picnic area to find the Old Baldy Trailhead -- the Super Trailhead begins on the south end of the lot near the restrooms. ». Once you get acclimated to these amazing new views, you’ll have to deal with a few switchbacks which aren’t too bad. There also are a couple of points when you get to the higher elevations were you feel a bit exposed dealing with loose rocks on relatively steep switchbacks. Old Baldy is the shortest and steepest, while the Super Trail is longer but has a more moderate gradient, but both of these trails lead to the 9,543-foot summit of Mt. And then I wasted no time in … 1.2mi from Josephine Saddle or 0.6mi before reaching Baldy Saddle you pass Bellow Springs. The best seasons for hiking are fall and spring when temperatures are mild at the base and the summit is clear of snow. . Note that at the time of writing, there is a proposal to increase daily fees to $8 and annual pass prices to $40 that may be implemented sometime in 2019. The trail begins at the end of Madera Canyon. Unfortunately, it was impossible for us to really relax on top because we were getting absolutely swarmed by bugs including a lot of ladybugs. I thought the mix of vegetation during this portion of the trail was pretty interesting. These views along this portion of the trail are pretty cool and you look down upon a lot of trees that were destroyed in a fire. But overall this did not feel like a very “dangerous” trail to me. You’ll then come to the Mount Wrightson Wilderness sign and at that point you are official! These trails meet near Josephine Saddle to create a figure 8 on the mountain and can be combined to make a more interesting loop hike. The total path is approximately 9 miles roundtrip and 4,000 feet of elevation gain. At 9,456 feet, Mount Wrightson is the tallest peak in the vicinity of Tucson Arizona. While Mount Lemmon seems to get all of Tucson's fame and glory, lesser known Mount Wrightson is perhaps a more fun and scenic climb thanks to the lack of development on its summit and heavily shaded trail to shield you you from the Arizona heat. Some of the steps are pretty rocky so you need to be careful of where you place your feet — I found trekking poles to be very valuable on this portion of the hike and for the whole hike in general. (Notice all the crazy lady bugs in the photo! The Super Trail, also from the Madera Canyon trailhead, is not as steep but is far longer at 8.1 miles (13.0 km). In the summer, this is a good trail to beat the heat thanks to the trailhead starting at a cooler 5,500 feet of elevation, the trail's location on the shady north side of the mountain, and the shade of the pines in lower elevations. While the Super Trail up Mount Wrightson is longer, its figure eight brother trail, the Old Baldy Trail, remains a favorite among visiting hikers. After about half a mile from the saddle, you will reach the next set of switchbacks. Awesome view of a bristlecone pine tree. The mile following the Josephine Saddle is actually a pretty enjoyable segment of the hike and sort of the calm before the storm for some people. The Super Trail, also from the Madera Canyon trailhead, is not as steep but is far longer. . This is the location where several Boy Scouts lost their lives in a winter storm a few decades ago and there is a sign there reminding visitors about the tragedy. A new universally accessible trail to the Lake Michigan dune was added in 2017. Hike the trails and enjoy the majestic views from "Old Baldy", a dune overlooking Lake Michigan. This is a 10.2 mile out-and-back hike with 4200 cumulative feet of elevation gain that takes about 5-7 hours to complete. Lemmon. Old Baldy is the name by which those familiar with the Santa Rita Mountains know the centerpiece of this 25,260-acre Wilderness. The Old Baldy Trail is a loop trail that is 5.7 miles in length. If you take the east route around the loop traveling counter clockwise, the distance to … The Old Baldy trail is considered a moderate to difficult trail due to the elevation climb. This view looks down into Madera Canyon with Kitt Peak in the background on the left. The rest of the descent down Old Baldy Trail was a bit mind-numbing but at least it’s all downhill so didn’t seem to take long. Even if you're not a bird-watcher, you have to appreciate the unique nature of this place. From here, you only have one mile to go until you reach the summit. Note: Hike statistics were recorded with Gaia GPSapp. . It is a nice challenge but it’s great to be able to hike up in the mountains with lots of shade throughout the journey. #co, The fall jungle on Mt Lemmon. Overall, this was a terrific hike. Both trails are accessible from the Mt Wrightson parking and picnic area. Wrightson’s distinctive pyramid-shaped profile is visible from much of southeastern Arizona and adjoining areas in Mexico. On the summit, there are a few rocky places to sit down and relax. We had been planning to do our first strenuous hike in the Tucson area for a little while. Shortly after you pass the spring, it’s time for switchback city and arguably the most challenging portion of hike. Keep your eyes out for birds as we encountered a lot of very pretty and interesting birds (Wrightson is known for its high concentration of birds). I did this hike with two liters of water in my Camelback and a Gatorade but hitting up the spring on the way up and down allowed me to finish up the hike with just enough water. If I did not have my trekking polls I feel like I would have slipped a number of times so once again I’m a huge fan of trekking polls for the hike. And it looks even farther than that — at 9,453 feet, Mount Wrightson, also known as Old Baldy, is the highest point in the Santa Rita Mountains. As you make your way through this portion of the trail, some great views of Mount Wrightson will open up and you can admire the scenery of your destination. With that said, depending on your fitness level this could be a pretty good challenge. This is also where the views open up to the other side of the mountain, and there are a couple of spots with shade making this a perfect place to take another rest. The Forest Service also honors all Interagency Annual Passes. This is a nice little rest area and we stopped here for a few minutes to rest up and contemplate our next move. Parking currently costs $5 per vehicle, paid in cash or check at the self-service kiosk pictured below and displaying thes stub on your dashboard. In this article, I will tell you everything you need to know about the Mount Wrightson via Old Baldy Trail. The favorite destination for most hikers at Arcadia Dunes is Old Baldy, an open dune perched 356 feet above Lake Michigan for sweeping views of the Great Lake. The steepness of the trail will increase, then you'll pass a sign informing you are now entering the Mt. This is a difficult one way trail to Mount Wrightson in Coronado National Forest. The way back down is obviously much easier but due to the loose rocks and large drop downs at times, it is a little bit more time-consuming than I initially thought it would be. An easier version of this hike would be to take the Super Trail to Josephine Saddle. Though the top's panoramic views extending to Tucson in the north and Mexico in the south are the primary reward, the entire hike is chock full of scenic viewpoints -- each of which you will definitely use as an excuse to take a breather on this high altitude climb with over 4,000 feet of elevation gain. Last Updated: Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019 Baldy Lake and the spur trail are located roughly half way through the loop trail. Trip Date: Saturday, December 22nd, 2018 Initially, we wanted to get a few more strenuous hikes under our belt before attempting Mount Wrightson but suddenly one day we felt the urge to go ahead and attempt Mount Wrightson via the Old Baldy Trail. The next morning we explored Mt. Hands down, one of the greatest hikes in Tucson is to the top of Mount Wrightson. I would highly recommend utilizing the spring so that you don’t have to go overboard packing your water plus the spring water was so refreshing. The incline is very mild here but you will start to notice a steeper incline once you hit the Old Baldy Trail. The shortest route is the Old Baldy Trail, a steady climb of over 4,000 feet (1,200 m) over 5.4 miles (8.7 km) to the exposed summit. . There is a 0.8 mile spur trail that will take you to Old Baldy summit. The wide footpath is interspersed with bedrock and … It was just crazy so after hanging around for only a couple of minutes, we were on our way back down. Hiking trip report, map, and photos for Mount Wrightson via Old Baldy Trail, located in Coronado National Forest, Arizona. Old Baldy on Mt. Scenic highway views in the Rockies. The ascent of Jack Mountain was forested but wasn’t totally garbage as I did get a good view looking back at Mt. (Notice all the crazy lady bugs in the photo!). Personally, I never found the incline on the switchbacks to be that bad. Trail lies in the Mt.Wrightson Wilderness Area. Dogs are permitted on leash. You’ll only have to deal with about seven or so switchbacks this time but things do get much more rocky as you get higher and this is where the loose rocks can be a little tricky in a couple of spots. . Trailhead: Madera Canyon: Old Baldy Trail; pit toilets, trash, fee required Mount Wrightson is the largest mountain visible from Tucson, rising to over 9400’ from the desert floor. Wrightson, the highest peak in the Santa Ritas. From this point, it's 1.8 miles to Baldy Saddle via Old Baldy Trail, and 3.3 miles via the Super Trail. Wrightson. This portion of the trail is still pretty mild. Finish up those switch backs and then you are so close to the finish line, you just need to head up a handful of more switchbacks. Ice on the Old Baldy Trail Old Baldy Saddle to Mount Wrightson's Summit. You will see fewer people the closer you get to the top, and there will probably be people resting at the summit. Lemmon and the Pima County … It is located in Madera Canyon, part of the Santa Rita mountains and the Coronado National Forest, and it's a popular excursion approximately 30-minutes south of Tucson. It’s the tallest peak in the Tucson area and a very rewarding hike with an incline grade that I believe is very manageable. The Old Baldy trail is much shorter at 5.4 miles but is a steady climb of 4000 feet to the summit of Mount Wrightson. Despite the physical demands of the hike, you'll forget the aches and pains in your legs and look back on this hike with fond memories of natural splendor and personal achievement. This is the most popular route to the top, so expect to see plenty of people. The Mount Wrightson via Old Baldy Trail is a hard out and back hike approximately 11.3 miles and with an elevation gain of 4,012 feet. . The trail starts traveling gently uphill until you reach a rusty metal sign indicating you take a left turn turn for the Old Baldy Trail. At the trailhead for the Super Trail is posted a plaque (pictured below) telling hikers that Boy Scout Troop 301 and Venture Crew 301 cautions you to be prepared. Although it’s a little rocky at times, it’s very shaded and there are some nice views that start to emerge. This view looks directly out over the city of Tucson and Santa Catalina Mountains with Mount Lemmon the highest peak. The Old Baldy and Super Trail meet in the saddle and share the footpath for the next 0.2 mile. It was absolutely stunning all the way through; I can confidently say it’s a new favorite hike in the Tucson area. Even if there is no snow on top, ice is usually present at the higher elevations in the winter; I highly recommend bringing trekking poles and/or traction devices like Yaktrax to prevent you from slipping and falling. This final section was short but strenuous given the altitude. You’re basically going to be faced with three main sets of switchbacks, with the first set being the longest. The trail is very easy to follow at pretty much every point in the route. Mt. Winter hikes may also be possible, depending on snow conditions at the top -- a good estimate for summit snow/ice conditions is to google weather and webcams on nearby Mount Lemmon, which is only a couple hundred feet shorter than Mount Wrightson and is heavily monitored thanks to its ski resort. Located about 40 miles south of the city in the lush Coronado National Forest of the Santa Rita Mountains, Mount Wrightson and lesser known neighbor Mount Ian comprise the backdrop of any pictures taken in Tucson. Once you finish that punishment, you’ll come to another trail junction that meets up with the Crest Trail — the Baldy Saddle. Turn right at White House Canyon Road. More information is available at the Coronado National Forest Passes and Permits Page. There’s a decent sized parking lot and you will see signs pointing you towards the trail in the parking lot. Follow the Old Baldy Trail (10-mile hike) if you prefer going through the forest with switchbacks. Wide views on Mount Wrightson (noted as "Baldy 2" on topo) reveal mountain ranges few know exist. Nov 26, 2019 - Mount Wrightson via Old Baldy Trail - Arizona | Julie and Mike hike It’s big enough to stand-out on satellite imagery and made a great place to stop for a snack. Many people use the Super Trail as a way to come back down and appreciate the views a bit more but from what I have seen, it is less maintained and better to do with pants which we did not have. Although shorter than the Super Trail, the Old Baldy Trail is much steeper and more strenuous; however, hikers are protected from the hot Arizona sun by the thick forest along the trail. Initially, I did not think we would move past the saddle but we ended up deciding to try to push forward and I am extremely thankful that we did. Super Trail/Old Baldy Trail is a hiking, trail running, walking adventure located in or near Mount Wrightson Wilderness Area, AZ. #onlyina, Entering one of the many grottoes at Chiricahua NM, Climbing Picacho Peak is an epic hike. Looking out over the F. L. Whipple Observatory and Tubac/I-19. . Remember, the thin, dry air at higher altitudes makes it easier to become dehydrated. 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