7 - 8
FATMAP difficulty grade
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.
Drive 4.5 miles to FR 183.
Turn north on this dirt road about 2.4 miles to the trailhead at the canyon.