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Name: Josephine Canyon FR4082 Author's Rating:
Author: Matt Marine Avg. User Rating: (based on one vote)
Type: 4WD Difficulty: (Easy 4WD)
Time: 2 - 4 hours Region: SE Arizona
Length: 7.6 miles (one way) Elevation gain/loss/change: +1500 / -1500 ft / +0 ft (round trip)
Type: Out and back Avg Elevation: 5500 ft
Best time to go: fall, spring, winter Fees: NA
Fitness rating: Low Educational Merit: Low
Danger/fear rating: Low Scenic Beauty: Medium
Hours of Operation: NA Last updated: May, 2012
Short Description: An easy 4WD spur trail off the Bull Springs trail that goes into a narrow canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains
Geocaches: Not a lot of geocaches along this route, but here's one that's fairly close: Mine Field
References / Contact Information: Hike Arizona; Ghost Towns; Forest Service
Points of interest: Compadre Mine, Josephine Canyon, lots of other trails to explore, a fairly narrow canyon with some big trees
Special Considerations: Trail is located in illegal immigrant and smuggler high traffic area, see page regarding warning (it's not as bad as it sounds). Lots of old mines in this area, stay away from open mine shafts and be careful of mine tailings.
How to get there: From Tucson, take I-19 south to exit 56, turn left to the Frontage road, turn right on Frontage Rd and travel 3 miles. Take a left on Elephant Head Rd for 1.5 miles, then a right onto Mt. Hopkins Rd. Travel for 4.7 miles until you reach Bull Springs Rd (Waypoint 001) on right. Click here for directions. Take Bull Springs trail to Waypoint 003B.

Trail Description

This is an fairly easy 4WD spur trail off of the Bull Springs trail for those who want to do a little more exploring while you're in the area. The trail is a little more difficult than Bull Springs, but not much. The trail follows Josephine Canyon up into the Santa Rita Mountains (north of Patagonia), usually cut into the hillsides above the canyon (though sometimes crossing it). There are numerous roads off in either direction. We took some of these, but not all. Rumor is that one of these will take you to the Mt. Hopkins Observatory Road, but nothing stood out for us when we went. The trail ultimately leads to the Josephine Canyon hiking trailhead.

Note: The Forest Service sign says the Josephine Canyon Trailhead is 2 miles from Bull Springs Road. I calculated it to be over 3 miles.

Parking at the trailhead is limited to one, maybe two small vehicles. Larger groups will have issues turing around. The trail can be very narrow with limited places to turn around. The trail is moderately brushes and you will have some new Arizona pin stripping when you're done.

One of the side trails leads to the top of a smaller mountain that the Forest Service has flattened. Views are incredible. This was my favorite part of the trip.

Google Maps and Google Earth

GPS tracks for this adventure were recorded with My Tracks software on my Android cell phone. This is an awesome piece of free software that allows you to record GPS tracks, waypoints and historical data. It will tell you things like elevation gain, time history, average speed, etc. It will also let you take a tour (similar to playing a time accurate movie) of your track on Google Earth. You can send your tracks to friends or upload them to Google.

Google Maps
Click here to view this adventure's track on Google Maps.

Google Earth
You can also download a Google Earth movie (called a tour) of this adventure (must have Google Earth on your computer). Right click here to download the .kml file, then select "save target (or link) as..." For help on how to play the movie on Google Earth (not very intuitive), click here.

General Information and History

No information yet on this area.

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The Trail

The trail starts along the Bull Springs Trail at Waypoint 003B. Head northeast and begin making your way into Josephine Canyon. After almost 3/4 of a mile, you will come to a Y-intersection (Waypoint 001). The left going up the hill may be difficult for some stock vehicles. The right which takes you along the wash is much easier (and very pretty). The trail rejoins at Waypoint 002 (less than 1/4 of a mile later). If you go down the wash, the trail does a sharp hairpin curve to the left after a few hundred yards and can be easily missed.

If you want to take a peak at Compadre Mine (or what's left of it), park in the wash (canyon) before making the hairpin curve up the hill on the left. Walk a few hundred feet up the canyon. Compadre is on the left side of the hill. The head frame is collapsed. There's an old brick step that I found interesting. Above the mine is the wooden flume that's cool (this may be more accessible from above).

After exploring the area, head up the hill to Waypoint 002 and keep going up the canyon. You can see some concrete foundations as you pass the top of Compadre Mine. You will also drive over the collapsed mine itself.

At Waypoint 004, head up the hill to stay on FR4082. Keep driving as the trail becomes a little more wooded and closer in. At Waypoint 005, go up the hill to stay on course. The short track down to the wash leads to the Connecticut Mine and is where we stopped for lunch. There's some decent shade here, foundations and misc. metal equipment.

At Waypoint 006, keep to the right as you go around the corner. This is another hard to see hairpin turnoff on the left which is the continuation of FR4082. The right is FR4860, which leads to the Josephine Canyon Hiking Trailhead. We did not go to the left on FR4082. Rumor has it that this will connect to the Mt. Hopkins Observatory Road. The topo map also shows this, but I have no confirming evidence that it's open and passable. If you go on this route, please let me know what you find.

Keeping right on FR4860, head toward Waypoint 007. Here you will see another Y-intersection. Keeping right will lead you to the Josephine Canyon Hiking Trailhead. Remember, this portion of the trail can be narrow and there's even less places to turn around. Parking at trailhead very limited. Head up to Waypoint 008, then turn around at the trailhead/wilderness boundary.

Head back to Waypoint 007. If you want a fairly nice side trip, take a sharp right and head up the hill here. Keep on the main road as you head up the small mountain. At Waypoint 008, keep left to go up the last part of the hill. The right doesn't go much farther. You will shortly find yourself on top of the mountain that's been cleared by the Forest Service. This is an awesome spot. It provides 360 degree views of the surrounding area. My favorite place on this trail.

When you're done enjoying the view, retrace your path to Bull Springs Road. You can choose to go out the same way you came in, or in the opposite direction.

Whatever you decide, have fun and be safe!

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