Old Baldy Trail #372
Old Baldy is the shortest and steepest, while the Super Trail is longer but has a more moderate gradient, but both of these trails lead to the 9,543-foot summit of Mt. Wrightson, the highest peak in the Santa Ritas. The trails form a figure eight making it possible to put together a number of different loops using different portions of each. Old Baldy is the most heavily traveled and also remains the coolest of the two by keeping a more northerly aspect and staying in the trees for almost its entire length. The Super Trail stays within the same drainage as its steeper cousin on the lower loop of the “8”, but it follows a more south-facing slope through a high desert environment. Above the midpoint of the “8” at Josephine Saddle, the Super Trail loops around the south side of the mountain through even more arid country, while Old Baldy switchbacks through thickets of New Mexico locust on a west-facing slope to Baldy Saddle. The last mile to the summit of Mt. Wrightson via the Crest Trail #144 is the same no matter which trail you’ve followed to the saddle. The views from the summit are, to say the least, breathtaking. The Santa Catalinas near Tucson, Mt. Graham to the east, and the high peaks of the Huachucas to the southeast combine with sweeping views of the Santa Cruz and San Pedro valleys to form a 360° panorama. Actually, you don’t even have to go all the way to the top to enjoy great views. Many of these landmarks are visible from dozens of overlooks along both trails. And while you’re at it, remember that all that’s worth seeing here is not in the distance. The birdwatchers heaven that exists in Madera Canyon extends up the mountain into this area where, in addition to the birds, you have a chance to see Coues white-tailed deer, black bear and even mountain lion. The trails also boast an impressive potpourri of tree species characteristic of southeastern Arizona including Arizona, Apache and Chihuahua pines, as well as Arizona madrone and a variety of oaks.
At a Glance
|Restrictions:||Motorized and mechanized vehicles and equipment, including mountain bikes, are not permitted in Wilderness.|
|Operated By:||Nogales Ranger District|
Leave Interstate 19 at the Continental Road/Madera Canyon Exit and follow the Madera Canyon Road about 13.5 miles to the Mt Wrightson Picnic Area entrance. Turn left here and drive into the trailhead parking lot.
Day HikingTop of the mountain views. Watchable wildlife. Diverse habitats. Mix and match loops. The Old Baldy-Super Trail Loop was designated a National Recreation Trail in 1978. 3.9 mi. of the Old Baldy Trail and 7.6 mi. of the Super Trail are within Mt. Wrightson Wilderness. USGS Map(s): Mt. Wrightson
|Elevation desc||5,400 - 9,450 feet|
|Difficulty Level:||More Difficult|