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This trail leads to the 9,453 foot summit of Mt. Wrightson, the highest peak in the Santa Ritas. Old Baldy is the short and steep, and when combined with the Super Trail, forms a figure eight loop.

Old Baldy is heavily traveled, and remains cool by keeping a more northerly aspect and staying in the trees for almost its entire length. Above the midpoint of the "8", at Josephine Saddle, the Super Trail loops around the south side of the mountain through even more arid country, while Old Baldy switchbacks through thickets of New Mexico locust on a west-facing slope at Baldy Saddle. The last mile to the summit of Mt. Wrightson via the Crest Trail is the same no matter which trail you've followed to the saddle.

The views from the summit are, to say the least, breathtaking. The Santa Catalinas near Tucson, Mt. Graham to the east, and the high peaks of the Huachucas to the southeast combine with sweeping views of the Santa Cruz and San Pedro valleys to form a 360ยบ panorama. Actually, you don't even have to go all the way to the top to enjoy great views. Many of these landmarks are visible from dozens of overlooks along both trails. And while you're at it, remember that all that's worth seeing here is not in the distance. The bird watching' heaven that exists in Madera Canyon extends up the mountain into this area where, in addition to the birds, you may see Coues white-tailed deer, black bear, and even mountain lion if you're very lucky. The Old Baldy trail also boasts an impressive pot pourri of tree species characteristic of southeastern Arizona including Arizona, Apache, and Chihuahua pines, as well as Arizona madrone and a variety of oaks.

Watchable wildlife
ELEVATION: 5,400 feet - 9,450 feet

Diverse habitats
RATING: Easy (#134), More difficult (#372)

3.9 miles of the Old Baldy Trail are within the Mt. Wrightson Wilderness.
Mechanized vehicles, including mountain bikes, are not permitted in Wilderness areas.

Directions: From Tucson, Exit Interstate 19 at the Continental Road/Madera Canyon Exit 65 and follow the Madera Canyon Road about l3.5 miles to the Roundup Picnic Area entrance. Turn left here, and drive into the trailhead parking lot.

Distance: 4.5 miles

Usage: Heavy

Difficulty: Strenuous

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Coronado National Forest, Arizona

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The details, dates, and prices mentioned here were accurate at the time of publication.

Review by Wildernet Copyright © 2010 all rights reserved.