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Madera Canyon Hiking

Updated on September 12, 2014
Late 1880's White House
Late 1880's White House | Source
The remaining wall in 2010
The remaining wall in 2010 | Source

Madera Canyon is a lush and beautiful canyon located in the northwestern face of the Santa Rita Mountains. This peaceful land is part of the Coronado National Forest's 1.78 million acres of protected lands. The Nogales Ranger District is assigned to this area as well as Tumacacori, Pajarito and San Luis Mountains.

Madera Canyon is home to campsites, picnic areas, and miles of hiking trails. The Canyon is also home to migrating birds, and is known for its spectacular birdwatching.

FUN FACT: Madera Canyon was originally White House Canyon after a prominent white adobe house was built there in the late 19th century. It's possible that the home was built by a sheepherder named Walden sometime in the late 1870's or early 1880's. Sometime during 1882 Walden left the small home and Theodore Wellish and his family took over making it their summer home.


Take a Hike

The lush trees leaning gently up the forested slopes, while seasonally filled streams babble, lead to a bountiful variety of plants and wildlife, this is Madera Canyon, which has become an increasingly more popular recreational destination. Hiking trails vary from easily paved and handicap-accessible to gentle walking paths along the lower canyon, but one can easily find steep to expert trails leading all the way up to the top of 9,453-foot Mt. Wrightson.

My favorite trails so far are Bog Springs Trail and Kent Springs Trail, they are long hikes, but worth every minute when you see the beauty that is all around you. Bring a camera and plenty of drinking water.

Elegant Trogon

Binoculars and Birds

Being rated the 3rd best birding destination in the United Sates, Southwestern Arizona, specifically Madera Canyon being at the heart came easy. For those birdies out there, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the fifteen (15) species of hummingbirds, Elegant Trogon, Sulphur-bellied Flycathcer, Clack-capped Gnatcher, Flame-colored Tanager, 36 species of wood warblers, and over 256 species of birds documented in total. Eat your heart out, and bring a camera.

While the vast birding opportunities may keep you busy don't be quick to overlook the white-tailed and Mule Deer, rabbits, Wild Turkeys, and squirrels that are also commonly seen. While not as common there are still Black Bear, coati, foxes, Ring-tailed cats, Raccoons, Bobcats, and Mountain Lions. Being aware of your surroundings is crucial, although you not likely to run into any mischief.

On our first hike up Bog Springs Trail we caught two white-tailed deer on our way down, beautiful creatures, next time I'll get their picture.

Bog Spring Trail 1.3 miles Kent Spring Tail 2.5 miles Camp Ground .1 mile Dutch John Spring 1.0 miles
Bog Spring Trail 1.3 miles Kent Spring Tail 2.5 miles Camp Ground .1 mile Dutch John Spring 1.0 miles | Source
Bog Spring Trail
Bog Spring Trail | Source
Bog Spring Trail
Bog Spring Trail | Source

Camping, camping, camping....

All in all there are 34 developed campgrounds located throughout The Coronado National Forest's 1,718,187 acres in Arizona and 68,936 acres in New Mexico.

In Madera Canyon there are 3 lodging facilities and 13 campgrounds at Bog Springs Campground that are suitable for tents or RV's, but no RV hookups are provided. Campsites are available for a small daily fee of $10 and it's a first come first served type of deal. Each campsite has a table and fire grill, you will need to bring your own firewood, charcoal, or camp stove. During the driest, hottest parts of the year there maybe campfire restrictions, and as always this is a pack-it-in, pack-it-out area. Toilets and drinking water are available at the campground.

Safety First

Always practice safe Fire precautions when enjoying all that the great outdoors has to offer.

  • Check with public land management agencies for fire regulations, restrictions or area closures before leaving.
  • Use metal fire rings or grills present also wood placed on a fire should never exceed the size of the grill or fire ring.
  • If building a fire on the ground (in areas where permitted), a location should be selected which is away from adjoining or overhanging flammable material, and the ground beneath and around the fire should be cleared of all flammable materials.
  • Avoid fires if possible on windy days.
  • Make sure fire is fully extinguished before leaving the area. Douse fires with water and dirt and stir with a shovel until completely cold to the touch.
  • If using a portable stove, make sure the area is clear of grass, pine needles, leaves, and other fine fuels. Prevent stoves from tipping and starting a fire.
  • Never throw cigarettes out the window of a vehicle.
  • Use an ashtray to prevent wildfires.
  • Practice Leave No Trace principles - pack out cigarette butts and burned materials from your camping/hiking area.
  • Never leave vehicles over dead grass; the catalytic converter can ignite the vegetation. Maintain vehicle brakes, keep tires properly inflated, and shorten tow chains to prevent sparks.
  • Use caution while discharging a firearm, operating an internal combustion engine, welding, or operating acetylene or other torches with an open flame, or using explosives (where permitted).
  • Fireworks are prohibited on federal lands.


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