Every day for the past month I have noticed at least one Arizona Trail hiker walking through town with trekking poles, large backpacks full of gear, and gleeful smiles plastered on their faces.
Inspired by their drive to be “out on the trail,” I recently went for an adventure on the Arizona Trail. The Town of Patagonia is lucky to be one of the Arizona Trail Gateway Communities. This means the 800-mile trail that carries its users from Mexico up to Utah cuts right through town. The Canelo Hills West Passage, found off of Harshaw Road, is a moderate-hard hike that begins in Patagonia and goes for 16.2 miles, ending on Canelo Pass Road. While 16.2 miles is a long stretch, the beauty of this trail is you can go for however long you want, and then turn around at any point. My hike ended up being three miles roundtrip.
The start of the trail winds through mesquite bosque and sacaton flats. Soon the trail climbs a hillside, where you pass through the first gate, and are offered stunning views of the hills in the distance marked with red minerals, green shrubbery and boulders covered in lichen. The trail continues further into the hills, winding along ocotillo ridges, down into oak woodlands, and up to beautiful vistas. At a high point, at the second gate, you are offered the opportunity to continue down into a valley where the trail moves toward Mexico, or you can turn around, like my puppy and I decided to do. The walk back is easier, and a great reward for the hard work you put into going up.
Dogs, horses and bikes are allowed on this trail. Best used in the spring, fall and winter. The trail is very well defined, with a good map at the trailhead. Check out aztrail.org for more information.
Directions from the Visitors Center: Head north on McKeown Avenue until it turns into Harshaw Avenue, continue for 3 miles. The trailhead will be on the right-hand side after a cattle guard. Parking is free.
One hiking trail per month is highlighted in Take A Hike!. Each description will include access point/s and directions, length, terrain, interesting features, and whether open to dogs or horses.
Our goal is to eventually combine the individual descriptions into a loose-leaf book of local trails. Borderlands is partnering with the PRT to make an accompanying GIS generated map to show the relative locations of the trails. In addition to several hard copies, the trail book will be available on both the PRT and BRN websites. The key, of course, is recruiting volunteers to write the trail descriptions. If you have a trail in mind, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org