Four Springs Trail

I somehow was never aware of this trail until I got a new map that had it listed.  The Four Springs Trail splits off at Kent Spring and steadily ascends below the Santa Rita crest until it mostly traverses to a saddle between Madera and Florida Canyons.  From this point the trail connects to Florida Saddle or the ridge can be followed off trail north to McCleary Peak.

June 13, 2009
Mike and I did this hike after scouting out the first bit of trail on an earlier hike of the Kent/Bog Springs loop.  I planned on getting to McCleary Peak but wasn't sure what the trail condition would be after the Florida Fire or what the off trail portion would be like.

 
Big milkweeds on the way up the trail, don't know the species though I see it every now and then amid pines.  Views of Wrightson get better through an open stand of pine along these trail switchbacks.  Not sure if this section of forest was backburned or just faired much better than the completely scorched forest in the ravine just out of view at left.


The switchbacks led up the other side of the small ridge on right and from here the trail becomes less steep but a bit rougher and brushier.  At far left is the upper end of the ravine that suffered from an intense crown fire and is visible from much of Madera Canyon as a distinct bare spot.  At center there's a huge slab of rock that broke off and is perched in what seems like a precarious position especially when viewed from the switchbacks in the previous photo.


View down into Madera Canyon from a little farther up the trail.  Baboquivari Peak is on the right horizon with a forest fire sending smoke towards Tucson.  Elephant Rock just below it at the foot of the Santa Ritas looks much more like the blade of rock that it is from this perspective.


The view from McCleary Peak back south along the crest ridge towards Wrightson.  The trail was left behind in the saddle hidden at center behind the high point on the ridge.  From the saddle to McCleary Peak is a very brushy undertaking but not that difficult otherwise.  The burn in the back left is coming up out of Florida Canyon which was more extensively burned than is generally the case in Madera Canyon, like the area in the foreground.


The view southeast towards the partially burned out Florida Saddle and beyond to the grassy oak dotted hills and plains around Sonoita.  The Huachucas are the prominent range and farther back to their left on the horizon are the Mule Mountains.


Looking across Florida Canyon to the northeast along the ridge of the Santa Ritas and farther beyond to the Rincons.  The dark slopes near center are due to a wildfire earlier in the summer.  I couldn't tell at the time but this is the side of the peak with a series of large cliffs that makes it much more prominent when viewed from the east.  The top of the ridge was very rocky and dry so it mostly supported some oak and pinyon pine but here and there a few stubby Douglas-fir managed to extend up from the slopes below and survive, which are the blue-green trees in this view.

 
October 2, 2011
Decided to try making a loop by connecting the Kent Spring Trail and Four Springs Trail with the Crest Trail, Old Baldy Trail, Super Trail, and an unmarked trail that I didn't know existed at the time.  The elevation change on this loop is about the same as going up to Mt Wrightson from the end of the road in Madera Canyon, but this hike's length is longer than the shortest way up to the summit.  


View from the burned out saddle with summer wildflowers still lingering.  It's fairly easy off-trail travel from the ridge below at right, which I've heard referred to as Shovel Point.  It takes more effort to ascend to the saddle from that point than would appear from below.  The Crest Trail is met right at this saddle. 


Not far from the saddle and this portion of the Crest Trail is obviously much less traveled than other parts since the wildflowers haven't been trampled down.   


Pan of vertical shots into the steep drop of Cave Creek.  Florida Saddle and Peak are on the left with the Rincon Mountains behind in the distance, while Gardner Canyon forms the dark straight line in the foothills pointing directly at the Whetstone Mountains. 


A particularly shady and moist north facing slope along the Crest Trail that escaped the Florida Fire.  I think this is the most likely location to find White Fir in the Santa Ritas, but I didn't see any here and I haven't seen any anywhere else in these mountains either.  The Rincon Mountains also seem to lack White Fir even though the other nearby ranges have them at similar altitudes and types of sites that exist in these mountains as well.  


Just a little farther up the trail another area left treeless from an intense crown fire run is encountered.  The burned saddle and point 8853 are in the background to the north along the crest.  


View south near the high point along the Crest Trail before it drops back down to Baldy Saddle which is between the ridge at center and Mt Wrightson.  The switchbacks can be seen ascending towards the summit. 


Descending down the Old Baldy Trail and looking back up to the cliffs along the west face of the crest.  Shovel Point, the departure point from the Kent Spring Trail up to the burned saddle, is lit up by the sun at left. 


I had planned on travelling off-trail down this canyon to connect back up with the Kent Spring Trail but it turned out that there already was a trail in very good shape the whole way.  This trail and canyon join up with the Kent Spring Trail where the water pipeline crosses over this creek.  This is actually one of the most scenic and gentle sections of trail that I've been on in the Santa Ritas.