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Josephine Saddle From Aqua Caliente Trail

Alternate route up to Josephine Saddle, some challenging vertical 1000+ft/mi.

Hiking Difficult

19 km
1.5 km
1.5 km
7-8 hrs
Low Point
1.5 km
High Point
2.3 km
Josephine Saddle From Aqua Caliente Trail Map

From Forest Service Description: Provides access to the upper slopes of Mt. Hopkins, the second most prominent peak in the Santa Ritas. The Agua Caliente Trail winds along north slopes through a cool forest of conifers, oaks and aspens, providing good views of the Multiple Mirror Telescope on the mountain’s summit as well as the upper reaches of Madera Canyon and Mt. Wrightson’s rocky prominence across the canyon. Off in the distance, the Santa Cruz Valley and the Santa Catalina and Rincon Mountains stretch toward the horizon. Agua Caliente’s trailhead is located in a canyon of the same name on Mt. Hopkins’ western flank. From that point, accessible via the Mt. Hopkins Road, the trail proceeds up a remote desert canyon toward the mountain’s forested upper slopes. If you arrange a shuttle in advance, a trip that stretches between this trailhead and the VS/VM trailhead in Madera Canyon makes a good long day. A loop that doesn’t require a shuttle takes you up the VS/VM trail to Agua Caliente Saddle, then northeast to Josephine Saddle and back to the Roundup parking area via the lower end of either Old Baldy or Super Trail.


Directions: Leave Interstate 19 at the Canoa Road Exit. Take the east frontage road 3 miles south to Elephant Head Road and turn east 1.6 miles to the Mt. Hopkins Road. Drive 4.5 miles to FR 183. Turn north on this dirt road about 2.4 miles to the trailhead at the canyon.



Hiking trails where obstacles such as rocks or roots are prevalent. Some obstacles can require care to step over or around. At times, the trail can be worn and eroded. The grade of the trail is generally quite steep, and can often lead to strenuous hiking.

Low Exposure

1 out of 4

The path is on completely flat land and potential injury is limited to falling over.


2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

between September and April


  • Picturesque
  • Dog friendly
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation