Location

  • Canelo Pass to Highway 82

Length

  • 17.7 miles

Southern Trailhead: Canelo Pass

Access

This passage does not feel as isolated as the previous two, but it is seldom used. From the town of Patagonia, follow Harshaw Road (FR 58) east 14 miles to an intersection where FR 58 makes a 90-degree turn to the right. Avoid this turn and continue straight ahead (east) on FR 799. In 5 miles, cross Canelo Pass and continue about 0.5 miles down the other side to a large parking area on the left (west) side of the road. The trail toward Patagonia departs from the right side of a kiosk; the trail arriving from Passage 2 is on the left side of the kiosk.

From the town of Sonoita, follow AZ 83 south for 18 miles to a turnoff on the right for FR 799. Continue 2.9 miles to a parking area on the right that is marked with Arizona Trail signs.

Please note there is no public access to the AZT along Red Rock Canyon Road due to private property and a locked gate.

A map of all trailhead access points can be found here.


Northern Access Point: Casa Blanca Canyon Trailhead

Access

From the north, follow Highway 82 toward the town of Patagonia. Four miles north of town, turn right/west on Casa Blanca Canyon Road. Follow this dirt road west for 1/4-mile and look for the trailhead on your left/south. Park here, walk through the AZT gate, and follow the Connector Trail for 1/3-mile to locate the Arizona Trail. There is no parking or access along Highway 82; instead please use the Casa Blanca Canyon Trailhead nearby.


Trail Route Description

Passage 3 continues north through the Canelo Hills. This section features rolling grasslands, chaparral, and a rich riparian environment. The trail follows a singletrack path that winds up several short, steep hills and through dry wash crossings. Since the area has abundant livestock grazing you’ll see numerous cows and encounter frequent gates.

This section begins with a moderate climb from the Canelo Pass Trailhead up to a saddle with scenic views of rolling hills, shallow canyons and lush grasslands. From here, one is offered panoramic views of the Santa Rita Mountains to the northwest and the Patagonia Mountains to the southwest. 

The trail drops into the upper end of Meadow Valley and then continues through rolling hills lined with oak and manzanita. Hundreds of plant and animal species thrive in the nearby Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve which makes it possible to catch a glimpse of a rare, violet-crowned hummingbird, a northern beardless-tyrannulet, or a gray hawk!


Difficulty

  • Moderate

Season(s)


Water

Water may be available at Down Under Tank, Cott Tank Exclosure, and Gate Spring. Red Bank Well generally has water, as it is an important cattle watering location, and uses a solar powered pump.  Check the online Arizona Trail Water Report for current information at https://aztrail.org/explore/water-sources/.


Notes/Warnings

  • The northern portion of this passage experiences extreme overgrowth in the summertime, and trail work is not permitted before October 1 due to threatened & endangered species that live within the area. Expect difficult route finding, wear long protective layers, and be prepared for extreme conditions if you’re on the trail in the summer and early autumn months.
  • Trail is designed for hiking, mountain bikes, and horseback use.
  • Cattle grazing occurs along this entire passage. Please close all gates unless they are intentionally wired open.
  • Mines are located near some of the trail routes and are marked. Please stay on the trail.
  • All water along this passage should be purified prior to use.
  • Do not use Red Rock Canyon Road for access.

Resources


For more information


Current Passage Info

Extreme Overgrowth on Passage 3-4

Extreme Overgrowth on Passage 3-4

September 27, 2022 - We are so proud of the new trail that has been built between Red Bank Well and Highway 82! However, monsoon rains have led to extreme overgrowth that make the trail very challenging to follow. Since trail work is not permitted before October 1 due to threatened & endangered species that live within the area, you should expect difficult route finding, always wear long protective layers, and be prepared for extreme conditions if you're on the trail in the summer and early autumn months. Staff, volunteers and conservation corps will be out there soon to beat back the brush. But if you get out there before they do...good luck.
Arizona Trail Reopened After San Rafael Fire in Canelo Hills

Arizona Trail Reopened After San Rafael Fire in Canelo Hills

The San Rafael Fire started on May 7 in the grasslands south of Patagonia, Arizona. The fire impacted over 11,620 acres. Firefighters have been able to stop the fire's spread along a portion of the Arizona Trail near Canelo Pass. In the interest of public safety, Passages 2 (Canelo Hills-East) and 3 (Canelo Hills-West) were closed between Parker Canyon Lake and Harshaw Road Trailhead, but reopened on Monday, May 16. To see the fire perimeter in relation to the AZT, check out our Interactive Map online. Visit the Inciweb site to stay informed about the San Rafael Fire.

How To Spend A Day In Quirky Patagonia, Arizona

Travel Awaits (March 12, 2021) by Cindy Barks Equal parts outdoor hotspot and artsy Western outpost, Patagonia, Arizona, packs an improbable number of fun attractions into its community of fewer than 900 people. Located about 18 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border, charming Patagonia is among the communities known as Sky Islands (Sonoita, Elgin, and Patagonia) for their relatively high elevation and adjacent mountain ranges. While stories vary on how the nearby Patagonia Mountains got their name, one theory is that miners who had spent time in Chile and Argentina named the area after the famous mountains of South America. The story certainly seemed plausible to me after taking in the golden slopes and grasslands bordered by mountain peaks. From Tucson, Patagonia can be reached either by heading south on Interstate 19, or by traveling east on Interstate 10, and then turning south onto the Sonoita-Patagonia Scenic Road, Highway 83. A visit to Patagonia could be a day trip from Tucson, but a better idea is to spend several days exploring the Sky Island region and taking in Arizona Wine Country along the way. Things To Do In Patagonia Patagonia is often described as quirky, and the town more than lives up to the description...

Red Rock Canyon Road Closed to Public Access

Due to private property issues, there is no public access along Red Rock Canyon Road between Harshaw Road and the Arizona Trail. Please do not use Red Rock Canyon Road to connect the AZT back toward the town of Patagonia.
Avoid Harshaw Road

Avoid Harshaw Road

Arizona Trail users are discouraged from using Harshaw Road along the Canelo Hills-West Passage (#3) of the Arizona National Scenic Trail. This 2.8-mile stretch of pavement used to be a quiet rural road, so when the original Arizona Trail route was developed it was an acceptable route to avoid private land nearby. But over the past year the road has seen increased mining activity south of Patagonia, making the narrow road unsafe for passenger cars and especially dangerous for hikers and mountain bikers. Equestrians should not attempt this stretch of roadway, as there are numerous roadway constrictions where there is no shoulder, putting equines and riders at risk. The Arizona Trail Association is in the process of developing a new segment of the AZT that will bypass this area entirely, making the trail safer and more pleasant for all. The new trail alignment will connect Red Bank Well with Gardner Canyon through the Coronado National Forest and private land. We anticipate trail construction will begin in 2019. Between now and then, day users should avoid Harshaw Road entirely and thru-hikers and riders should use extreme caution along this stretch of road.

Stay On Trail

Take care to stay on the AZT in the 3-mile segment near Gate Spring; many illegal trails cross the AZT and can be misleading.