Pajarita is a Spanish word meaning little bird. It is an appropriate name for this 7,420-acre area, for a couple of reasons. For one, the international border with Mexico forms the area’s southern boundary. For another, the area’s rugged canyons, which point south toward the subtropical environments of Mexico and Central America, provide a natural migration route for a surprising diversity of birds. The lush riparian habitat of Sycamore Canyon, the area’s most prominent natural feature, also supports a number of resident species. As many as 160 species of birds have been observed in and around Sycamore Canyon. Though the area’s rolling hills are predominantly covered with desert savannas and oak woodlands, its riparian areas are home of an astonishingly diverse vegetative community. Over 600 species of plants, some of which are extremely rare, have been identified in these productive habitats. Part of the wilderness lies within the Goodding Research Natural Area, established in this area precisely because of the amazing biological diversity found here. Two major trails lead into the Pajarita Wilderness, the only wilderness in the Coronado National Forest not located on the high slopes of a mountain range. The Sycamore Canyon Trail #40 leads downstream in that showplace of biological diversity, past riffles and pools that hold water year-round. The Border Trail #45 skirts the international border from the Summit Motorway, a rough 4-wheel drive road that parallels the eastern edge of the Wilderness, to a junction with the Sycamore Canyon Trail #40.

At a Glance

Restrictions: Motorized and mechanized vehicles and equipment, including mountain bikes, are not permitted in Wilderness. Please abide by Wilderness rules and observe NO TRACE! ethics.
Closest Towns: 95 miles south of Tucson, 27 miles northeast of Nogales. (Straight line distances, not road mileages.)
Water: Springs and streams are available year-round. Purification of water is recommended.
Operated By: Nogales Ranger District
Information Center: Nogales Ranger District   520-281-2296

General Information

Directions: The Ruby Road, most of which is unpaved but suitable for passenger cars, leads to the Sycamore Canyon Trailhead and to the Summit Motorway. This latter road is a 4-wheel drive road which leads to the trailhead for the Border Trail #45. Trails in Wilderness: Sycamore Canyon #40 and the Border #45.


Day Hiking


Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Elevation : 
3,800 feet - 4,800 feet