Located in Tucson, Arizona, on the northwestern face of the Santa Rita Mountains, Madera Canyon is a part of the stunning Coronado National Forest. Whether you are into bird watching, hiking, or simply appreciating nature, this is a gorgeous part of the region that is definitely worth a visit.
Madera Canyon is famous for its network of hiking trails, each of which provide quite the different experience. One of the best trailheads to start from is the Mt. Wrightson trailhead, as this area gives you access to several different hiking trails. In addition to the many easier trails here, you will also find the Old Baldy Trail and the Super Trail, which is only really recommended for experienced hikers who are able to climb to quite high levels. Whichever trail you choose, be sure to stick to the track each time, because taking short cuts around designated trails only leads to soil erosion and the general degradation of the area. If you would like to plan your hiking route in advance, trail maps are available from the Madera Canyon website.
Home to over 250 species of birds, including 15 hummingbird species, Madera Canyon is a haven for bird watchers. Different parts of the canyon are home to different species, but there are some areas that are especially abundant in bird life. Proctor Road always ends up being a productive area to visit, as it is home to everything from the Yellow-Billed Cuckoo to Lucy’s Warbler to the Northern Beardless Tyrannulet. The Old Baldy hiking trail is another great spot to visit, especially if you are hoping to catch sight of an elegant Trogon. For those visiting Madera Canyon during the months of spring, try your hand at some night time bird watching, where you will be able to hear the screeches of everything from the Elf Owl to the Spotted Owl to the Common Poorwill. If you are a bird watching enthusiast, it would be worth starting your visit off at the Visitor Information Station, as you will be able to pick up a Birds of Madera Canyon checklist here that will help you to keep track of all that you see.
Bud Gode Interpretive Nature Trail
The Bud Gode Interpretive Nature Trail is all about educating the public on the nature that can be found at Madera Canyon. This is a self-guided tour that visitors can take, interjected with interpretive panels that explain more about many of the natural features that this area boasts, from its geology to its animals to its sky islands to its plant communities. The five trailheads that this trail will take you to feature large scale topographical maps that are designed to whet you appetite for the hiking trails ahead.
When visiting Madera Canyon, keep in mind that there is no gate or official entranceway that marks your entrance into the canyon, so it would be best to first head to the Visitor Information Station to get your bearings. This is an incredibly gorgeous part of the state, and also boasts several scenic picnic spots that make it an ideal place to spend the entire day, so be sure to schedule yourself enough time when visiting the canyon.