Border #45

Map of the Sycamore Canyon Trail 40 and Border Trail 45

Most of those who come to visit in this area are drawn here by the unique environment of Sycamore Canyon. Home of one of the few perennial streams in extreme southern Arizona, it supports such a diverse plant and animal community that part of it has been designated the Goodding Research Natural Area. Over 625 species of plants have been identified here, many of which are rare and/or endangered. Sycamore Canyon’s animal life is extremely diverse as well, especially its birds. Over 130 species have been identified as frequent visitors here. Among those are colorful vermilion flycatchers and various warblers, raptors and herons. The trail starts out at the Hank and Yank Ruins. The remnants of an old adobe wall are all that’s left of a Civil War-era homestead that was pioneered in this canyon by Hank Hewitt and Yank Bartlett. The trail itself exists only in a few places along the floor of Sycamore Canyon. More generally it just follows the stream, crossing it and recrossing it via stepping stones and gravel bars. As the canyon meanders toward Mexico, pinnacles and sheer rock cliffs that form the canyon walls occasionally crowd the stream so that a little fancy footwork is required. A number of pools in the inner reaches of the canyon usually hold water year-round. About 5 miles downstream of the trailhead, the canyon opens out and crosses a barbed wire fence that marks the Arizona/Mexico border. Here, you can either turn around and return the way you came or turn east and travel along a little-used pathway called the Border Trail. This foot and horse path was put here to provide access for maintenance of the international boundary fence. It leads over the grassy foothills of the Pajaritos to the end of the Summit Motorway (FR 39A), which may sound like a thoroughfare, but it’s a 4-wheel drive road.

At a Glance

Usage: Light
Restrictions: Motorized and mechanized vehicles and equipment, including mountain bikes, are not permitted in Wilderness. No camping in Goodding Research Natural Area.
Operated By: Nogales Ranger District
Information Center: Nogales Ranger District  520-281-2296

General Information

Directions: To get to the Border Trail turn off FR 39 onto the Summit Motorway (FR 39A) 2.5 miles from the end of the pavement at Peña Blanca Lake. FR 39A is a 4-wheel drive road.


Day Hiking

Scenic canyon, streamside trail, colorful songbirds/rare plants. Historic site. Travel the international border. 5.1 mi. of the Sycamore Canyon Trail and all of the Border Trail are within Pajarita Wilderness. Sycamore Canyon Trail ends at the U.S./Mexican Border. USGS Map(s): Ruby
Elevation desc 3,400 - 5,000 feet
Difficulty Level: More Difficult


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  Area/Length : 
4 miles

  Elevation : 
3,400 feet - 5,000 feet