Location

  • Gardner Canyon Road to Oak Tree Canyon

Length

  • 13.8 miles

Southern Access Point: Gardner Canyon Road

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
  • 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.

Access

Plans for developing an official trailhead at this location are underway, to be completed by December 16, 2022.

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, walk south along the fence to an unlocked gate near the SR 83 undercrossing and take the trail west.


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.


Difficulty

  • Moderate

Season(s)


Water

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/.


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.


Resources

  • 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


Current Passage Info

Rosemont Expands Scope

Patagonia Regional Times (October 6, 2022) by Stu Williams and John Murphy Trouble continues to brew in the Santa Rita Mountains. Rosemont Copper, operating there since 2014, has shifted its plan of operation from the east side of the mountains to the west to dodge federal court rulings, hoping to take advantage of rubber-stamping state agencies and local apathy. Rosemont Copper continues aggressively moving dirt on its private land on the west side of the range. The Arizona subsidiary of Canada-based Hudbay Minerals continues to build “Copper World” for its planned pits, tailings, and leaching facilities. Rosemont also continues to seek additional land on the north side of Copper World, in Corona de Tucson. It tells residents it wants to buy these lands as a buffer from the inevitable noise, light, and dust that the mine project will create. An unsightly power line running straight to the northern ridgeline would be built along Santa Rita Road. In July, Rosemont broadly expanded the scope of Copper World, touting a “Made in USA” copper cathode production plan that claims to be greener than its previous plan. That process is expected to generate 140,000 annual tons of sulfuric acid. Looking at the production data in...
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Two people bitten by animals in separate incidents in Southern Arizona

Arizona Daily Star (March 6, 2020) by Gloria Knott Two people were bitten by animals in separate incidents in Southern Arizona yesterday, wildlife officials say.  A fox bit a person on the ankle in Sabino Canyon on Thursday, according to Arizona Game and Fish Department spokesman Mark Hart. In another incident, a skunk bit a man in the face while he was asleep at a campground near the Arizona Trail in the Santa Rita Mountains. Both incidents happened within an hour of each other, Hart said. In both incidents, the bite victims killed the animals after feeling that the animals' behaviors were abnormal. The animals are being tested for rabies. Both bite victims are getting treated for possible rabies.  Anyone needing Game and Fish assistance should call 623-236-7201. 
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No Known Problems

No known problems at this time.
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