Super Trail / Old Baldy Loop
Trailhead: Madera Canyon
Length: 13.7 miles roundtrip
Wilderness Area: Mount Wrightson Wilderness
Journal: "Super Blow Job on Old Baldy"
Directions to Trailhead:
From Tucson, go South on I-19 to mile marker 62. (Continental Road). Turn left and drive 1.2 miles to the Madera Canyon turn off. Take the road 11 miles to Madera Canyon Recreation Area. The trailhead is at the very end of the paved road. It is a popular spot so parking is limited.
The Super Trail and Old Baldy Trail make a figure 8 as they climb to Baldy Saddle. They cross at Josephine Saddle. The Super Trail (7.6 miles) is longer but not as steep as the Old Baldy Trail (5.2 miles).
From the parking lot, the trail climbs gently up a ridge and then crosses a wash. After the wash, the Super Trail heads up the west side of a ridge and then U-turns around and heads south on the west side of a different canyon. As you climb, you can see the Old Baldy trail on the opposite side of the canyon and the Mount Hopkins Observatory above you.
After 3.8 miles of steady climbing through a mixed forest, you will reach Sprung Spring. This is a beautiful area with lots of birds and a very good spring. Two tenths of a mile after the spring you will reach Josephine Saddle -- a cross roads of several trails in the Santa Ritas. From the saddle, hike left and past the junction with the Temporal Gulch trail. After a switchback , you will reach another junction. Take the Super Trail (right) and continue on it as it curves around the south side of Mount Wrightson.
This is a open area and the views are great. The trail continues its gentle, continuous grade to Riley Saddle. From there it continues to follow the contour to the junction with Gardner Canyon Trail on the east side of Mount Wrightson. .3 miles past this junction, there is a nice camping area where we stayed. Despite the trees in this area, the wind was brutal.
From the campsite, the trail climbs awhile and then switchbacks to Baldy Spring. Unlike Sprung Spring, Baldy Spring was barely a trickle. There is a small campsite near the spring. Baldy Saddle is .1 miles past Baldy Spring.
Baldy Saddle is a large very open area with great views. There are usually several camps set up in this area. The Super Trail ends here. The Old Baldy Trail goes left and switchbacks continuously for .9 miles to the summit of Mount Wrightson. There is the remains of the old lookout tower and an ammo box for you to sign in at. The views extend for 50 miles or more!
After the summit, return to Baldy Saddle and continue down on the Old Baldy Trail. The trail switchbacks for .7 miles to Bellow Spring (also a trickle). It then continues to switchback 1.1 more miles to Josephine Saddle. From the saddle, the trail gets much steeper and has fewer switchbacks as it returns 2.2 miles to its end at the Vault Mine Trail. This section is very pretty and has some great views of Mount Wrightson and the crest of the Santa Ritas. Turn right on the Vault Mine Trail and go 0.3 miles to the parking area.
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