Sycamore Canyon

Nogales, Arizona 85628

Sycamore Canyon

Sycamore Canyon Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"A wilderness route along a permanent stream that penetrates the Pajarita Mountains, 5.8 miles one way.

This wilderness route follows Sycamore Canyon downstream into the heart of the Pajarita Wilderness. It involves travel along gravel bars and frequent crossings of a permanent stream. A little rock scrambling may be required in some tight spots for travelers who want to keep their feet dry; this route does place a premium on agility. Clumsier hikers need not worry, however. They can always slog through the water when the going gets tricky."

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Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Best Hikes with Dogs: Arizona (The Mountaineers Books)
Renee Guillory
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"Ready to get your feet and paws wet? Sycamore Canyon is a gem of a hike in the desert Southwest because you and your dog will without a doubt get to romp through pools, wade (or swim) through deep cuts in the canyon, and generally revel in a cooling riverside outing. Fed by the perennial Sycamore Creek, Arizona sycamores, wild cassavas, and Goodding ash trees occur throughout the canyon, providing home sites, forage, and cover for all manner of wildlife, including the five-striped sparrow, mountain lions, javelinas, deer, coyotes, and rattlesnakes. The threatened Sonoran chub have a protected and enviable home in the creek’s beautiful pools and backwaters. Nearly all of the trail is in the Pajarita Wilderness Area, and much of the first mile comprises part of the Goodding Research Natural Area."

Sycamore Canyon Trip Reports

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This trail is a nice one. It is quite a chore to drive to the trailhead, however, and you have to crawl for 17 miles on a steep, curvy one-lane dirt road that is well-rutted. Oh yeah - did I mention this whole area is one of southern Arizona's most active illegal drug smuggling routes? If you like feeling seeing border patrol agents hiking around in flak vests with automatic rifles slung over their shoulders, then this trail's for you. It's too bad, too, because the terrain is beautiful. The trailhead is a nice, shaded area with ample parking. The trail is not well-marked, so you need to look carefully and if in doubt, follow the creek. My son and I hiked all the way to the border fence, and we had a blast. There are some really nice swimming holes, so bring your swim trunks and a sack lunch - take care NOT to swim in still pools. The wildflowers here are stunning. The hike is really easy, as the trail is pretty much flat. So, it isn't a hard workout by any stretch. The stream descends into a carved out rocky canyon with Arizona and straight Sycamores, wildflowers, foxtail bushes and mesquite groves in abundance. The rocks in the stream are slippery, so bring shoes with good tread and I strongly recommend a hiking pole. We didn't see and drug smugglers or illegal aliens, which was surprising. Bring a hat, sunscreen and a camera.
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This is a portion of the Arizona Trail. I accessed this trail from Gordon Hirabayashi (Prison Camp) trail head - Moderate elevation gain for first mile past intersection with Soldier's Trail to Shreve Saddle.

The Trail condition from the saddle down was fair to poor, in some places, where the drop off is 200 - 400 feet, it had washed out to about a foot width (not 12") which can be very dangerous with a pack on.

The Trail ended at Sycamore Canyon whci was an excellent reward. There are the remains of the Pump house (Foundation) and the old Sycamore Resevior dam, which had water running over it (About 25' drop) to Sycamore Creek. Views from the top of the dam include Thimble Peak, on the top of Bear Canyon, which is the ultimate destination of Sycmamore creek. The Resevoir had long silted in, but the upper creek, with it's huge oaks, and large river course was breathtaking.

Lots of good camping spots.

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Trail Information

Nearby City
550 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Skill Level
Local Maps