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Name: Cumero Canyon (and Palmetto and Three R Canyon) Author's Rating:
Author: Matt Marine Avg. User Rating: Not rated yet
Type: 4WD Difficulty:
Cumero Canyon:
(Easy 2WD/4WD trail).
Three R Canyon: (Demanding 4Wd).
Palmetto Mine:
(Easy 4WD Trail)
Time: 4 - 6 hours Region: SE Arizona
Length: 13 miles (including Three R Canyon) Elevation gain/loss/change: +1700 / -1700 ft / +0 ft (through trip)
Type: Through Trail Avg Elevation: 4300 ft
Best time to go: fall, spring, winter Fees: NA
Fitness rating: Low Educational Merit: Low
Danger/fear rating: Medium Scenic Beauty: Medium
Hours of Operation: NA Last updated: September, 2011
Short Description: A series of scenic 4WD trails between Patagonia and Nogales
Geocaches: Tons of cool geocaches around. Here's a few: 4x4 cache; Red Rock Gold;
References / Contact Information: Palmetto Mindat; Three R Mindat; Born Tourist; Backcountry Adventures: Arizona: pages 510-512
Points of interest: Old cabin along Three R Canyon, Palmetto Mine, dog's grave, Three R Canyon, scenic
Special Considerations: Lots of old mines in this area, stay away from open mine shafts and be careful of mine tailings.Trail is located in illegal immigrant and smuggler high traffic area, see page regarding warning (it's not as bad as it sounds). This trail is remote. We didn't see anyone else the entire time we were out.
How to get there: From Tucson, head east on I-10. Drive to the Sonoita exit (281). Take Hwy 83 south to Sonoita, turn right on Hwy 83. Drive 17.2 miles until you get to Waypoint 001. Click here for directions.

Trail Description

The Cumero Canyon trail is an easy 4WD trail through mining and ranch country near the Arizona and Mexico border. Due to it's proximity to the border, you should be extra careful along this trail. If you stay on the Cumero Canyon trail, the road is well-traveled and easy going.

Three R Canyon is much rougher and it's gets tough and a little scary near the end. Three R Canyon dead ends at private property, but the trip is scenic. There's also the cabin, cars and nice wash along the way.

The Palmetto Mine trail was my favorite trail during this trip. It was very overgrown and somewhat brushy. I really enjoyed the area around the mine, with the stonework, windmill, well, dog's grave and foundations. The trail itself was easy, but fun as it wound it's way through the small canyons and valleys.

General Information and History

From MinDat: The Palmetto Mine was located in 1880 by A.J. Stockton and partners, of Patagonia. There were some old shafts already on the property indicating that it was worked earlier, perhaps by Mexicans.

I don't know much about this area. There are lots of old ranches and mines in the area.

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The Trail

From Waypoint 001, head southeast along the well-maintained road. This portion (and the last) cross private land with access granted under the Sportsman Landowners respect program. Please stay on the road and leave gates as you found them.

After almost a mile, you will cross into Coronado National Forest land (Waypoint 002). The well-maintained trail (now FR215) gets a little rougher, but it's still pretty easy going. There are roads leading off in either direction, stay on the main road. At Waypoint 003, keep going straight.

At Waypoint 004, you can either take a left to head up Three R Canyon (on FR215), or keep straight to stay on Cumero Canyon (now FR235).

We took a left and headed up Three R Canyon. This trail dead ends at Three R Mine about 2 miles up the canyon. The trail starts out fairly easy, but gets progressively rougher. The last 1/3 of a mile is very rough, taking you through a boulder strewn wash. Some of the washouts were tough and I had to engage my lockers to get through to the end. There isn't a great place to turn around at the end, so if this gets you a little nervous, turn around before you get into the rocky wash.

Heading up Three R Canyon, drive 0.75 miles until you see a cabin on your left (Waypoint 005). This is a nice place to explore. But be careful! This is rattlesnake country and there are lots of old boards with nails sticking out. Yep, I stepped on a nail that went through my shoe and into my foot (I guess it was better than stepping on a rattlesnake). And for my mistake, I got to go visit Urgent Care the next day to get my tetanus shot.

To your right, you will find the old outhouse and showers (that's where I stepped on the nail). You can walk down to the wash below also. There was a trickle of water running when we went and it had a small water fall. Very nice. On your way back up to the vehicles, you may stumble across a few old cars. I thought they were in pretty good shape and interesting to explore.

If you want a little more challenge, continue up Three R Canyon. The road will become more difficult. Keep straight at Waypoint 006. I believe a left here dead ends at another mine, but we didn't take that spur. The main trail dead ends at private property at Waypoint 007 (Three R Mine).

I have seen pictures of this area (presumably before it was gated off) and it looked very cool. It was VERY hot and humid the day we went and we didn't do much exploring on foot. We found a place in the shade by the wash to have lunch. Cat-dog decided she would sit on my friend's lap (see the video for pictures). Funny pup.

Return the way you came to Waypoint 004, then take a left to continue along Cumero Canyon. At Waypoint 008, stay right. A left here takes you along FR4878 to Ventura Mine. We did not go up this trail.

At Waypoint 009, keep straight again. A right here heads out to Hwy 82 via FR4656. Continue driving along FR235 until you reach Waypoint 010. Staying on the main road here is the easiest way out (we did not do this). We took a right on FR4658. The trail was overgrown and very hard to see. If it wasn't for the trail marker, we probably would have missed it.

This trail is more difficult than Cumero Canyon, but not as difficult as Three R Canyon. It was overgrown (and somewhat brushy) along it's entire length. You head down to a small wash and within the first 1/3 of a mile, you will come to Tres de Mayo Well. The trail may look like it ends here, but keep going, you will see it continues past the well.

Drive up a short, steep climb to Palmetto Mine at Waypoint 011. There's a nice parking spot near the mine. You will see the windmill on your left. I loved the stonework. At the top of the small hill on the left was a dog's grave with an inscription that reads something like, "Here lies Rex, the best hunting dog ever". Sorry I can't remember the exact phrase, I thought I'd taken a good picture of it, but I can't find it.

Just a little further down the road from the mine is a short trail that takes you to some old foundations.

When you're done exploring the area, keep going on FR4658. Again, the trail was very overgrown and sometimes hard to follow here, but it was very fun and scenic. When you reach Waypoint 012, you're back on Cumero Canyon (FR235).

If you want to see a large corral, take a left here and it's only a few hundred yards down the road. There are many buildings in this area that are private property.

To get back out to Hwy 82, take a right at Waypoint 012. The road becomes well-traveled and easy again. Keep straight at Waypoint 013. A left here takes you down Paloma Road. It looked like a great trail to a nice canyon with big trees, but we didn't have time to take it. Drive another 1.6 miles and you're back on pavement.

A left takes you down to Nogales, a right back to Patagonia. During our trip it was so hot and humid that we really wanted it to rain and it did so, just as we turned toward Nogales. Oh well, next time we'll do this in January :-)

Have fun and be safe!

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