The southern passages of the Arizona Trail beautifully demonstrate the biodiversity and rugged nature of the AZT, and this adventure features the first 86 miles. From rolling grasslands to pine forest, past a cobalt-blue lake and through seldom-visited canyons, this itinerary is sure to be one of the most popular. Contrary to popular belief, the southern part of the state is not the lowest, nor is it the warmest, so be prepared for a variety of temperatures, including snow near the summit of Miller Peak. Gazing south into the mountains of Mexico is a splendid way to begin the adventure, and walking into the tiny town of Patagonia, traversing the foot of the Santa Rita Mountains and then trekking toward Tucsonto finish will leave you with many wonderful memories of your time along the AZT.

We created this trip for those who don’t want a guide, don’t want to be supported during the week and generally just want their own self-serve adventure with a bit of logistical assistance. Each day we relocate a very deluxe camp setup (provided by Ready Camp) of (2) 10×10 canopies, full kitchen, dry firewood, camp chairs, fresh water, coolers of food and beverages (you purchase prior to trip) and all your personal gear like tents, bags and clothing. You can go as cheap or deluxe as you want on food, beverages and amenities!!

Arrival Day


Our meeting point for this trip is Hotel Tucson in Tucson, AZ. The day before the trip starts you can pick up a cooler (if needed) from us to do your shopping for the week.


Day One


This adventure begins on Montezuma Pass overlooking the grasslands of the San Rafael Valley and the mountains of Mexico. The southern terminus of the Arizona Trail lies two miles to the south, accessible only by trail, so for those who want to start at the “start” then walk downhill toward Border Monument #102. It occupies a lonely, beautiful place in the middle of the grasslands where a two-strand barbed wire fence separates two nations. After a few photos, turn around and head back uphill to Montezuma Pass and continue climbing into the Huachuca Mountains, the highest southernmost mountain range in Arizona. 4.5 miles beyond Montezuma Pass you’ll come to a trail junction where you can take a ½-mile detour and hike to the summit of Miller Peak (9,470 ft.) where the views are breathtaking. The AZT rises and falls in elevation through the Huachuca Mountains for the next five miles before a long descent toward Sunnyside Canyon. During today’s walk you might see coatimundi, black bear or elegant trogons. Camp in a pleasant forest of oak, juniper and manzanita. * Montezuma Pass to Sunnyside Canyon is 12 miles. * Montezuma Pass to the border to Sunnyside Canyon is 16 miles. * Hiking from the AZT to Miller Peak and back adds 1 mile.


Day Two


From Sunnyside Canyon, walk slightly downhill along the AZT toward Parker Canyon Lake. At this elevation you might be lucky enough to see a Montezuma’s quail, an adorable game bird that is a favorite among birders. The forest is rich with life throughout this passage, including mammals, birds and reptiles. After 7 miles you’ll catch a glimpse of your destination – the sparkling dark blue oasis of Parker Canyon Lake. Once at the water’s edge you can jump in and go for a swim or follow the 4.5-mile Lake Shore Trail. This route follows the water’s edge around the entire lake. With numerous hidden coves and dense tree cover you’re sure to spot a variety of waterfowl and other animals near the lake. Camp in the Parker Canyon Lake campground. Rest your legs for the arduous days ahead. Hike length about 8-12.5 miles.


Day Three


Today’s route includes the first half of the Canelo Hills and all of Passage 2 of the Arizona National Scenic Trail. This minor mountain range is among the least visited in all of southern Arizona, but is one of the best kept secrets of the area. The trail rises and falls continuously over 14.5 miles of rocky terrain, but is filled with interesting geology, gorgeous views and ephemeral water sources. You’re not likely to see any other people on today’s route, which adds to the wild character of the AZT. Camp in the forest near Canelo Pass – the only road that slices through this territory. Hike length is about 14.5 miles.


Day Four


Continue your journey north through the Canelo Hills and enjoy the hidden beauty within Redrock Canyon as you follow this drainage for most of the day. A pleasant mix of grassland, chaparral and riparian biomes are encountered along this mostly downhill route. From start to finish you’ll drop about 1,500 feet in elevation. One of the most interesting features of this passage is that ocelots and a jaguar have been documented here. Wandering up from Central America through the mountains and canyons of Mexico, these spotted cats have recently been confirmed in the Canelo Hills and Santa Rita Mountains. After 13.5 miles you’ll arrive at the Harshaw Road Trailhead; you can hop in the vehicle and catch a ride to Patagonia or walk the remaining three miles along Harshaw Road (mostly dirt). Nestled in the lush oasis between Red Mountain and the Santa Rita Mountains, Patagonia is a destination in itself. Friendly folks, great food and towering cottonwood trees will make you never want to leave. Hike length is about 13.5 miles.


Day Five


The adventure begins in the town of Patagonia, one of the only towns the AZT travels through. This eclectic community of artists and outdoor enthusiasts has transformed itself from an old mining town to a hub of ecotourism built upon a restoration economy. Walk right through downtown, and begin the long ascent into the Santa Rita Mountains. The miles will pass quickly under your boots on this dirt road as you enjoy wide, sweeping views of the valleys below from a prominent ridgeline. The day ends in a pleasant riparian zone with towering sycamore and hackberry trees. This is a great warm-up for the days ahead. Hike length is 7 miles.


Day Six


Ascending into the heights of the Santa Rita Mountains is no easy task. The day’s hike begins on a wide dirt road that eventually becomes trail, climbing 2,000 vertical feet over 7 miles. You’ll see and feel the biotic communities transforming around you as the grasslands give way to forest. After your highpoint near Bear Spring, the trail descends and begins its picturesque journey along the canyons, ridges and hidden corners of the Santa Ritas. Keep an eye out for black bears, coatimundi and other critters along this seldom-traveled segment of trail. The final six miles of this route are blissful, and you’ll splash through ephemeralcreeks as you approach Gardner Canyon Road. Hike length is about 13 miles.


Day Seven


Walk up a short, steep series of switchbacks before descending toward historic Kentucky Camp. Old adobe structures and rusting mining equipment help tell the story of when this area was bustling with hopes of riches in the dirt. The trail rises and falls through a series of canyons, testing your legs and lungs throughout the day. This area is a bird watcher’s paradise and you’re likely to see everything from tiny grassland sparrows to elegant trogons. Today’s scenery alternates between dense forests of juniper, oak and manzanita to grasslands and agaves with inspiring views to the east. Hike length is about 16 miles.

What’s Included


  • Shuttle Van and driver
  • Luggage, gear and cooler/food relocation
  • Ready Camp kitchen and general gear


Not Included


  • Alcoholic Beverages – we can haul and keep them cold though!
  • Lodging
  • Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner
  • Weather Control – Mother Nature has a mind of her own

Tucson International Airport has plenty of flights each day.Phoenix, AZ is also only 90 minutes away