Passage #5 - Santa Rita Mountains

View from the trail Location:  Gardner Canyon Road to Oak Tree Canyon

Length:  13.8 miles

Southern Access Point:  Gardner Canyon Road
- GPS Coordinates:  31.71873° N, 110.75704° W
- Access: From Sonoita, follow AZ 83 north 4 miles and turn left (west) onto Gardner Canyon Road (FR 92). Avoid side roads. You’ll reach the Gardner Trailhead (not to be confused with Gardner Canyon Trail, which is farther west) 5.5 miles from the highway on the right side of the road. There is a large parking area here.

Northern Access Point:  Oak Tree Canyon
- GPS Coordinates:  31.81072° N, 110.72330° W  
- Access: Plans for developing an official trailhead at this location are underway.
From the intersection of I-10 and AZ 83, drive south on AZ 83 to 0.8 miles past milepost 44. Pull off to the right (west) where you will encounter a locked metal gate. Park in this area, climb over the gate and walk about 0.9 miles west up Oak Tree Canyon to an AZT trailhead sign on your right as it leaves the road and heads north.

Trail Route Description:  This passage begins on Gardner Canyon Road, just west of Gardner Canyon Trailhead. The route passes the trailhead, heads over to Cave Creek, descends into Fish Canyon and then heads northwest to Kentucky Camp. See the Friends of Kentucky Camp website below for the rich history of this intriguing site along the AZT. It goes through the camp area, follows the Kentucky Camp Road and then works its way up Sucker Gulch. It goes past Granite Mountain, through Ophir Gulch and then turns on to FR 165. It descends to Enzenberg Canyon, climbs up to a road, crosses California Gulch and then crosses FR 62. After a couple of small ridges the trail reaches the upper end of Oak Tree Canyon. It follows this canyon down to a point about 3/4 mile from Highway 83.

Difficulty:  Moderate

Season(s):  Fall, Winter and Spring (current weather forecast)

Water:  Water is usually available at Kentucky Camp. Water may sometimes be found in several stock ponds along the route including one on FR 165 and one near the north end of the passage.

The trail near Kentucky Camp Notes/Warnings:

  • All water along this passage should be purified prior to use.
  • Kentucky Camp is a collection of old buildings that were used for mining operations. A tour through this area is an interesting side trip on this passage.


  • USGS Topographic Maps: Mount Wrightson, Sonoita, Helvetia and Empire Ranch.
  • Coronado National Forest map.
  • BLM Information Center maps.

For more information, contact:

Current Trail Information:

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