Mt Wrightson via Josephine Canyon Trail


6 - 7









FATMAP difficulty grade



NOTE: The forest service suggests you may need a 4x4 to do the final 2 miles to the trailhead. This out and back/loop takes you first up to Josephine Saddle via the Josephine Cyn trail and then loops around and includes the Mt.

Wrigtson summit.

Modify to your hearts content.

I've done the summit loop both with and without summiting.

From the Forest Service Josephine Cyn Tr.

description: This trail not only provides a great hike or ride, but the drive to the trailhead is well worth taking in its own right.

That drive leads through a scenic countryside steeped in history that’s dotted with ranches, mines and ghost towns.

The temptation is great to do a lot of exploring along the way, but the signs that tell you not to trespass are serious.

Look and enjoy and keep on driving.

Once you get to the Josephine Canyon Trail you should really be primed for a great trip, and you won’t be disappointed.

The trail follows Josephine Creek for much of its journey, and if the creek is running you’ll be treated to waterfalls and cascades flowing through a riparian area lush with greenery.

Keep an eye out for nature’s residents here.

Deer are quite plentiful in the area and are usually very cooperative in remaining watchably still.

Other animals you might see among the grapevines and sycamores include javelina and coatimundi and, of course, the members of the diverse songbird population for which the Santa Ritas are famous.

The trail steepens as the canyon climbs the mountainside, with an occasional switchback thrown in for good measure.


Wrightson and Josephine Peak loom larger on the horizon as you get closer to them, while Mt.

Hopkins with its observatory shining in the sun dominates the view to the west.

As you near Josephine Saddle, turn around and look at the canyon you’ve just traveled; it frames good views of the Sonoita area and the Patagonia Mountains.

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 to Baldy Saddle.

The last mile to the summit of Mt.

Wrightson via the Crest Trail #144 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 360° 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 birdwatchers heaven that exists in Madera Canyon extends up the mountain into this area where, in addition to the birds, you have a chance to see Coues white-tailed deer, black bear and even mountain lion.

The trails also boast an impressive potpourri of tree species characteristic of southeastern Arizona including Arizona, Apache and Chihuahua pines, as well as Arizona madrone and a variety of oaks. Directions: From 4th Avenue and AZ Hwy 82 in Patagonia drive north 2 blocks and turn left on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Cross Sonoita Creek and continue west through the Nature Conservancy area to the National Forest boundary where the road you’re traveling becomes FR 143.

Bear left on FR 143 at the Squaw Gulch intersection.

Continue to Alto Townsite then beyond 2 more miles to a point where FR 143 turns left onto Bull Springs Road.

Continue straight on FR 4082 about 2 miles to the trailhead.

If you don’t have a 4-wheel drive vehicle, it may be best to walk these last two miles.