- Gardner Canyon Road to Oak Tree Canyon
- 13.8 miles
Southern Access Point: Gardner Canyon Road
- GPS Coordinates: 31.71873° N, 110.75704° W
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
- NOTE: This trailhead is not directly accessible by vehicles. The trailhead is approximately 0.7 miles west of the access point (31.80926° N, 110.71026° W) along a two-track road.
From the intersection of I-10 and AZ 83, drive south on AZ 83 for 15 miles to milepost 43.2. Oak Tree Canyon Trailhead is located just west of the highway and is large enough to accommodate 40 passenger cars and up to 8 trucks and horse trailers.
Trail Route Description
Passage 5 traverses the northeastern foothills of the Santa Rita Mountains. Located in southeastern Arizona, the Santa Rita Mountains are rich in biodiversity and home to black bears, bobcats, and even jaguars.
This section features expansive mountain views, craggy peaks, and a visit to a historical site. It consists of singletrack, doubletrack and dirt roads that rise and fall across an alternating terrain of grasslands and dense forests of juniper, oak and manzanita. The trail crosses canyons and traverses scenic ridgelines with views of Mount Wrightson’s granite peak in the distance.
This section passes through Kentucky Camp, which consists of a collection of buildings that were established as a base of operations for the Santa Rita Water and Mining Company in 1904. It has since become a historic site that is maintained by the Forest Service and volunteers. Facilities at the camp include potable water, electrical outlets, and a toilet. The AZT passes right through the camp, and it is a perfect place to take a break.
- Fall, Winter and Spring
- Current weather forecast
Water is usually available at Kentucky Camp and Bowman Spring. Water may sometimes be found in stock ponds along the route. Check the online Arizona Trail Water Report for current information at https://aztrail.org/explore/water-sources/.
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.
- Map of Passage 5
- USGS Topographic Maps: Mount Wrightson, Sonoita, Helvetia and Empire Ranch.
- Coronado National Forest map.
- BLM Information Center maps.
For more information
- The Passage Steward
- Coronado National Forest, Nogales Ranger District, 303 Old Tucson Rd., Nogales, AZ 85621 (520) 281-2296
- Friends of Kentucky Camp
- BLM Information Center (602) 417-9300.