★★★☆☆ Moderate / Tucson Area:
Do a 180… and head south for a wonderfully cool mountain hike! Kicking off from an elevation of almost 5,000′, the Bog and Kent Springs Hiking Trail Loop crosses icy springs and babbling brooks as it loops through the Santa Rita Mountains. Wild Turkeys are common trailside buddies here, so don’t be alarmed if you hear gobbling.
TRAILHEAD: Madera Canyon Road, Madera Canyon • DIFFICULTY: moderate • DISTANCE: 5.1 MILE loop • APPROX. TIME: 2.5 – 3.5 HOURS • ELEVATION GAIN: 1,880′ (about 134 stories) • APPROX. CALORIES BURNED: 765-867 • BEST TIME OF YEAR: March -November • PETS: Yes • KID FRIENDLY: 10 and over • FACILITIES: yes • FEES: $5 day use (or annual national parks pass)
Tucson residents have a great little secret … they know that there are beautifully cool mountain hikes south of the city. Plopped 180° from AZ’s northern mountain hikes, the stunning Santa Ritas are home to Mount Wrightson – a 9,400′ high peak typically covered in snow November to March. The Bog & Kent Springs Hiking Trails loop through the foothills around Mount Wrightson.
Starting at almost 5,000′, the air is way cooler than on the surrounding plains. The trail kicks off from the Bog Springs campground, between soft chaparral and grass. After a few yards it splits. Turn left to make the loop from the Bog Springs Trail or right from Kent Springs. Either direction loops back to this point.
Turning left onto Bog Springs, the trail meanders gently up a hill. As it gains elevation, the trees gradually change from shrub to pine. In the distance the sometimes snowcapped peak of Mount Wrighton hovers above the hilltops.
At a little over a mile, a small turnoff leads to Bog Springs. Within a small concrete well, cold clear water trickles to the surface. This spring is frankly kinda’ “meh.” The more beautiful bits of this hike happen further on.
One more mile and the trail reaches both Kent Springs Trail and the spring itself. Yes, it’s another concrete well… but this time tricked-out with spigots that gush clear, ice cold water. Framed by the well, the water’s surface reflects luscious blue skies and soaring pines.
Boo-yeah! A hop, skip and a jump further on a babbling creek flows alongside the Kent Springs Trail. In Spring especially, the creek splashes down a seemingly endless cascade of small waterfalls, as the trail begins its descent back down the mountain.
The Santa Rita Mountains (and Madera Canyon within them) are world famous for the more than 250 species of migratory and non-migratory birds that hang out there. Santa Rita Lodge, on Madera Road, puts out yummy feed that attracts these birds, followed by a birdwatching paparazzi. It’s a blast to stop and quietly check out both.
Directions From the intersection of I-10 and I-19 (in Tucson), turn south on I-19 and continue for 26.1 miles to exit 63 / West Continental Road. Turn left / east onto West Continental Road and drive for 13.4 miles to Madera Canyon Road. Turn right onto Madera Canyon Road and continue approximately three miles to the Bog Springs Campsite loop, on the left. The Bog & Kent Springs Trailhead is off the right side of the loop, near the campground entrance.