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Hiking & Walking: Arizona > Coronado National Forest > Nogales Ranger District

Quick Facts

Sycamore Canyon Trail

Beginning Elevation: 5,000 Feet (1558.6 Meters)
Difficulty: More Difficult
Elevation Gain: 1,600 Feet (498.8 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 3,400 Feet (1059.9 Meters)
Length: 5.3 Miles (8.83 Kilometers)
Trail Number: 40
Usage: Light
USGS Map: Ruby

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

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 Gooding 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 warbles, raptors, and herons.

The trail starts out at the Hank and Yank Ruins. These 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 over 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 from 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 there to provide access for maintenance of the international boundary fence. I t leads over grassy foothills of the Pajarito's to the end of the Summit Motorway, Forest Road 39A, which may sound like a thoroughfare, but is 4-wheel drive only.

5.1 miles of the Sycamore Canyon Trail are within the Pajarito Wilderness.
Mechanized vehicles, including mountain bikes, are not permitted in Wilderness areas.

Sycamore Canyon Trail ends at the U.S./Mexican Border.

Directions from Tucson: Turn west off I-19 at the Peña Blanca/Ruby Road, AZ Highway 289, Exit 12. Follow the road 9 miles to Peña Blanca Recreation Area where the pavement ends and it becomes Forest Road 39. Continue 8.5 miles to the Sycamore Canyon Road, Forest Road 218, which turns left (south) to the trailhead at the Hank and Yank Ruins historical marker.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Open: Fall through Spring .

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Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Hiking & Walking Sycamore Canyon Trail
ICON Bird Identification
ICON Viewing Historic Sites
ICON Viewing Scenery

More Information

Visitor Information:

Nogales Ranger District, 303 Old Tucson Road , Nogales, AZ, 85621, Phone: 520-281-2296


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