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Name: Tunnel Ranch Author's Rating:
Author: Matt Marine Avg. User Rating: No votes yet
Type: 4WD Difficulty: (Easy 4WD)
Time: 4 - 6 hours Region: Central Arizona
Length: ~35 miles total (roundtrip) Elevation gain/loss/change: ~ +1360 ft / -3066 / -1706 ft (roundtrip)
Type: Modified Loop Avg Elevation: 3000 ft
Best time to go: fall, spring, winter Fees: NA
Fitness rating: Low Educational Merit: Medium
Danger/fear rating: Low Scenic Beauty: Medium
Hours of Operation: NA Last updated: January, 2016
Short Description: An easy 4WD trail to an old ranch and through a scenic canyon
Geocaches: A few geocaches in the area: Green Zone #4 McKinney Dam and Cemetery; Water in the Desert; Hole in the Wall Jeep-O-Cache
References / Contact Information: True West Magazine; Apaches Tell Their Story; Camp Grant; Camp Grant Massacre
Points of interest: Tunnel Ranch, Camp Grant Wash, Putnam Spring
Special Considerations: Narrow canyon may be dangerous during heavy rains
How to get there: Visit the Tucson Wash adventure for more information. Take Oracle Road (Hwy 77) north out of Tucson, past Catalina and Oracle. About 4 miles north of the American Ave exit for Oracle, turn left onto Tiger Mine Road (Waypoint 001). Click here for directions.

Trail Description

This is an easy trail which takes you to an old ranch that has three buildings and a tunnel into a cliff to collect spring water. The trail also goes through a scenic canyon, past a nice spring and out through the Old Camp Grant Reservation boundary.

You also have the option of doing many of the scenic and historical places listed in the Tucson Wash adventure (McKinney Dam, Tiger Saddle and the old train tress le). See Tucson Wash adventure for more information.

General Information and History

I do not have any information on Tunnel Ranch. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

You will be passing through where Old Camp Grant used to be located on this adventure. The Camp Grant Massacre in 1871 which spurred another five years or so of the Indian Wars occurred near here. Click here for more information about Camp Grant and the massacre.

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The Trail

For more information on this area, accessing Tucson Wash, Mckinney Dam and the saddle, see the Tucson Wash Adventure.

From Highway 77, turn north onto Tiger Mine Rd at Waypoint 001. Cross the cattle guard and begin driving along the well-maintained dirt road. This portion of the road travels up and down saguaro crested hills and is a beautiful drive in itself and can usually be done by 2WD high-clearance vehicles and passenger cars in good weather.

There are minor roads leading off in both directions for the next few miles. Stay on the main road. After 1.5 miles, you'll pass a large parking area on the right for the Black Hills (#14) section of the Arizona Trail at the Tiger Mine Trailhead.

After a little over 3 miles, take a left onto the dirt road at Waypoint 003. The Tiger Mine Road that continues straight ahead is private property. Almost immediately after the left turn, you will see a corral and tank on your left and a large flat area on your right for a monitoring well.

At 4.25 miles, you will drive through a wash at WPT003A. There is a trail on the right in this wash that leads to the trail in Tucson Wash. There is a gate at the Tiger Mine Ranch (WPT004) that appears to be locked sometimes. If it is locked, you can bypass this gate by taking a right down the trail at WPT003A. You can also do this if you want to go through the Tucson Wash Narrows, which is a fun thing to do.

This narrative assumes you go straight here and the gate is open. If not, see the Bypass directions at the end of this section.

Continue to drive down the road until you reach WPT004. You will see an occupied ranch on your left, which I call Tiger Mine Ranch. There's no reason for me to call it this only that the ranch is on Tiger Mine Road. I'm not sure its real name. Take a right through the gate and into the wash. If the gate is locked, use bypass described at the end of this section.

Drive straight across the wash and head up the hill to visit Tunnel Ranch. If you want to go down through the Narrows in Tucson Wash, you can take a right on the trail in the wash. See Tucson Wash Adventure for more information on this.

Travel up this road for a little over 1/2 a mile (5.25 miles from WPT001). You will see a large metal tank on your left. Keep straight. Soon after the tank, you will come to a fork in the road at WPT005. Either way should be okay. The roads come together shortly afterwards.

After 6.2 miles, you will come to another wash at WPT006. A hard left here will take you to McKinney Dam (Waypoint WPTDAM) only 1/4 of a mile away. The dam has seen better days, but you can still see the rock work, which I think is really cool.

Assuming you're keeping straight to go to Tunnel Ranch, after 6.5 miles keep straight at WPT007. A right here would take you to the what I call the Tiger Mine Saddle (WPTSADDLE) a little more than 1/4 mile away. This is a nice overlook, though it is more challenging than anything on this trail. See Tucson Wash Adventure for more details.

This next section of the trail isn't difficult, but it is slow and bumpy. You may also receive some nice pin striping along the way.

Continue to drive along the main road. At 8.7 miles, pass through a gate at WPT008. At 9.67 miles, keep on the main road, past a road on your right and one of your left at WPT009. You will also pass a large cattle pond on your right. At 12.42 miles, go through the wash past the road on the left at WPT010.

At 13.05 miles, take a left at the T-intersection at WPT011. This next section of the trail was recently graded and very smooth when we visited the area. It's a nice long downhill ride to the wash with some great views off to the west.

Drive a little over 3 miles (16.43 total miles) until you reach the corral and windmill at WPT012. Take a left to head to Tunnel Ranch. Drive 1/2 a mile (16.93 total miles) until you reach Tunnel Ranch.

The ranch sits on the northeast side of a 100 foot sheer hill, providing some nice shade in the afternoon. There are three buildings at the ranch: the home, the barn and an outbuilding. And there's the tunnel into the rock wall. I believe it's there to catch the water seeping from the hill. There's a small dam at the entrance and there was nice cool and clean water in it during our visit. A pipe seemed to lead down to a cattle tank. A very ingenious solution to the water problem.

We also climbed up to the top of the hill/cliff for a wonderful view of the ranch and surrounding area. This can be dangerous. Watch your footing and do so at your own risk!

After you're done exploring the ranch, head back to the corral and windmill at WPT012. There are dozens of trails to explore in the area. We took some that lead to the west at this point and spent about an hour or so exploring this area. After looking at Google Earth, some of them go to a few working ranches in the area and I would imagine are probably gated off as private property. However, I did see a few trucks coming in from that direction which looked like hunters, so there may be a way through to Barkerville Road and Highway 79, but we have not verified this.

You can either head out the way you came in or take the Camp Grant Wash road out as we did. I really enjoyed this section of the trip. The canyon was very beautiful and the road was in great shape.

To head out via Camp Grant Wash, head straight at WPT012 instead of bearing right. Follow the wash for about 5.5 miles (22 miles from the start) until you reach WPT015 at Putnam Spring (there is not WPT014).

The spring was flowing nicely during our visit and we followed the stream of water down the canyon for about a mile until it finally went down into the wash's sand, not to be seen again.

Just after Putnam Spring, Camp Grant Wash merges with Putnam Wash and you will be on Putnam Canyon Road. The canyon really narrows here and is one of the most beautiful areas on the trip.

At 24.64 miles (WPT016) exit the Putnam Canyon and take the right onto Camino Rio Road. Note: private property lines both sides of this road. Please be respectful and stay on the road in these areas.

As a historical note, you will be entering the property lines of Old Camp Grant. Old Camp Grant was located here (though I doubt it was called "Old Camp Grant" back then) until 1872, where it was moved to the base of Mount Graham. This is the site of the Camp Grant Massacre in 1871. See Camp Grant Massacre page for more information.

Within 0.2 miles from WPT016, you will pass by some ruins on your left at WPT017. These are on signed private property, please be respectful. Continue south on Camino Rio Road for a little more than 2 miles and keep straight at WPT018 (27.34 miles from the start).

Stay on the road for another 5.66 miles (33 miles from the start) until you reach WPT019 and civilization (though some of you may not call the small town of Mammoth "civilization"). From here you can take a left and be out to the main highway (Highway 77) or bear right and visit the old train trestle at WPT020.

If you go to the train trestle, bear right at WPT019 and drive about 0.4 miles to the trestle. Take a look at some of the lumber that's holding the structure up. A little scary!

You can drive under the bridge and continue heading up the wash to exit out the way you came in or you can turn around and head back to WPT019. Either way it's a win as you got to tour some interesting and historical places in southern Arizona!

Tiger Mine Ranch Bypass

If the gate is locked at Tiger Mine Ranch (WPT004): At WPT003A, head northeast down the road in the wash. Continue along this road for about 0.8 miles until you reach the Tucson Wash at WPT003B. Hang a sharp left in the Tucson Wash, drive through the Narrows and back about 0.88 miles until you reach the main road near WPT004. Take a right up the hill and continue on as described above.

Have fun and be safe!

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