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Name: Sunnyside Trail Author's Rating:
Author: Matt Marine Avg. User Rating: Not rated yet
Type: 4WD Difficulty: (2 out of 5)
Time: 1 - 3 hours Region: SE Arizona
Length: 9 miles (roundtrip) Elevation gain/loss/change: +440 / -440 ft / +0 ft (roundtrip)
Type: Out and back Avg Elevation: 5800 ft
Best time to go: fall, spring, winter Fees: NA
Fitness rating: Low Educational Merit: Low
Danger/fear rating: Low Scenic Beauty: High
Hours of Operation: NA Last updated: October, 2007
Short Description: This is a beautiful, short trail to an old ghost town near the Mexico border
Geocaches:Tons of cool geocaches around. Here's just a few. Parker Canyon Lake Micro; Sunnyside
References / Contact Information: Parker Canyon Lake; Ghost Towns; Ghost Town Trails
Points of interest: Sunnyside ghost town and cemetery, beautiful southern Arizona ranch land, Parker Canyon Lake
Special Considerations: Some portions of Sunnyside are on private property. Don't travel this trail alone. Although I have never seen smugglers or illegals in this area, it is close to the border and they are in the area.Trail is located in illegal immigrant and smuggler high traffic area, see page regarding warning (it's not as bad as it sounds).
How to get there: From Tucson, take I-10 east to exit 281. Drive south on Hwy 83 to Sonoita. Keep on Hwy 83 as you follow the signs toward Parker Canyon Lake. After almost 28 miles, turn left on Coronado Trail, then continue on Montezuma Canyon. Arrive at start of trail (Sunnyside Rd) after about 1.5 miles. Click here for directions.

Trail Description

I love this area of Arizona. Just the trip to the trailhead is worth going. You'll see beautiful grass-filled canyons that leaves no mystery on why ranchers settled here. In the spring, the sides of these hills can be covered with spectacular wildflowers if they are in bloom. The trail leads to an old cemetery and ghost town. Some of the area is on private property (it is unclear and can be confusing on which areas are truly private property). The portion of the town that is accessible is well preserved and interesting.

General Information and History

The town of Sunnyside was very different than most wild west towns - it did not contain any gambling halls, saloons or even a jail. Samuel Donnelly, the town's founder, established the site as a religious community in 1887.

Donnelly, a former drunk who got sober in San Francisco during a Salvation Arm meeting, found religion. He was a minister who did not follow strict doctrine, instead he used the Bible as a guide.

At its peak, the town held about 50 families who had formed a commune. Members, known as "Donnelites," worked at the nearby Copper Glance Mine, supported Fort Huachuca, a sawmill and railroad.

All residents pooled their money to buy supplies, helped with the cooking and ate in a common area. Slackers would not be tolerated and would be swiftly kicked out of the commune.

The residents of the town seemed happy and spent their free time singing hymns and reading the Bible. Visitors to Sunnyside would often remark on how happy everyone appeared.

People of the town, including Donnely himself, practiced what they preached and helped people in need, giving them food and supplies when they were down on their luck. Donnely supported students going to the University of Arizona, donating money for scholarships.

The town continued for some time after Samuel Donnely's death in 1901, even obtaining a post office in 1914. But when the mine failed in the 1930s, the remaining Donnelites went their own ways.

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The Trail

At Waypoint 001 (the intersection of AZ 83 and Sunnyside Rd), head east on Sunnyside Rd (FR 228). Follow this trail for about a mile then take a right at Waypoint 002 (if you want to visit the cemetery).

The cemetery is about a mile down this trail, keep going as it turns back south until you reach Waypoint 003. There isn't much at the cemetery, but when you're done, retrace the trail to Waypoint 002.

Take a right onto Sunnyside Rd and follow it to Waypoint 004 (about 1.5 miles), then keep right to stay on FR228 (the left is FR4759). You want to stay right at Waypoint 005 to stay on FR228 (the left is FR 4758).

Then it's only about 1/4 of a mile to the town site. There are some very interesting old buildings around, but please respect the people who still live around the area and their private property.

On the way back out, you can explore FR4758 for a while if you want. When you've had your fill, retrace your path back to AZ 83.

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