Right now is a prime time to go hiking in southern Arizona. In October and November (even early December), the weather cools down and you don’t have to worry about overheating, especially if you’re hiking in the valley’s (like at the Saguaro National Parks). At this time, however, you do have to worry about getting chilly up at the mountains.
A prime example of this is in the Coronado National Forest, south of Tucson, Arizona. There are tons of different levels of hiking trails and it’s a favorite hiking spot of mine. However, at this time of year, while it may be gorgeous in the valley’s, it can get chilly up in the mountains, especially in the shade. You might want to wear or bring a jacket and/or long sleeved shirt.
In Coronado National Forest, a favorite hiking trail of mine is the “Super Trail,” officially known as Super Trail #134. It’s a longer trail, at about 7 miles, that takes you to the top of Josephine’s Saddle in Madera Canyon. It follows a more south-facing slope through a high desert environment, so it’s much sunnier than many trails in Madera Canyon. If you go in the summer, I would NOT take this trail because it gets so hot with the sun pounding down on you and there’s limited shade for much of it. However, in the autumn and winter, it’s nice because while the temperature may be chilly, the sun can help provide warmth (but definitely remember the sunscreen!).
The Super Trail is an alternative to the Old Baldy Trail #372, which is much shorter, steeper and rougher. Both trails take you to Josephine’s Saddle and if you want, you can make these trails one long loop, going up via the Super Trail and down Old Baldy, or vice versa. I love and probably prefer Old Baldy because it’s more of a workout and cooler because it’s more in the valley and trees, but the Super Trail is fun when the weather is nice.
Single day parking passes in Coronado National Forest are $8, or you can get week-long or annual passes. The entrance to the Super Trail is at the very top of the road up to Madera Canyon to the left, and parking can fill up fast (especially on weekends!), so that’s something to be weary of.
The trail starts in a valley with a stream running nearby (if there’s water in it) that you follow for the first 2 miles. It’s really pretty and I love listening to the sound of the running water.
At about 2 miles in, my family puppy was asking for water so we stopped for a quick water break (the first of many for her – she’s not much of a hiking pup, unless I’m there).
The valley landscape quickly turns into a more open high desert with beautiful views of the valley below, where you can see the cities of Sahuarita, Green Valley and Tucson in the distance.
I would say that the hike is generally very easy since it is such a gradual climb, but it’s definitely long and sunny. At about 3/4 to the top, my pup was pooped and I had to motivate her with frequent stops for water and shade. I, too, was getting baked by the sun because it was a particularly bright day so whenever we could find shade, I made sure to take advantage of it. Not going to lie – this hike isn’t necessarily hard, but if you go on a sunny day, the sun will zap all of your energy. Definitely make sure to bring plenty of water and be prepared with sunblock and a hat.
On the day that I went, there were quite a few people on the trail. I would say that it is a very rare experience to go on a hike in Coronado National Forest and not see someone else because it is a favorite spot for many locals, like myself (whenever I visit) and my family.
At over 5 miles in, you’ll reach two streams that signify that you’re close to the top of the trail. I had to stop to fill up my water bottle for my pup so that she could make it back down.
Eventually, 7 miles later, you make it to the top! There are several other trails at Josephine’s Saddle that can either take you further up the mountain or back down.
Instead of hiking back down the Super Trail, I took the shorter Old Baldy trail because it was getting late and I knew that Old Baldy was shorter / quicker. In my clumsiness, however, I fell and scrapped my arm and hands. I wasn’t wearing hiking boots, just regular sneakers, and Old Baldy has more roots and rocks to climb over, so I slipped. Oops.
Eventually, with the sun quickly setting having been on the mountain for a few hours with a late start, I made it back down. My pup was pooped the entire rest of the evening and promptly had 2 (yes 2!) baths because she was so dirty.
If you’re looking for a gentle but long trail to get some steps in, the Super Trail is a great trail and I recommend it! Good luck! ❤
Thank you for reading! Have you ever completed this hike before? What about other hikes in the area? Let me know in the comments below and like this post if you want more like it!