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Sycamore Canyon

sycamore canyon
Sycamore canyon
map: Sycamore canyon trail
elevation plot: Sycamore canyon trail


How to Get There
This hike is located near Nogales.

To get to the Trailhead: From the Tucson area, take I-19 South towards Nogales. At exit 12, turn right (West) towards Sycamore Creek on HWY-289. Drive 10 miles on this paved road and make a left turn towards Arivica. Take this graded dirt road 9 miles to the signed turn to Sycamore Creek. This road dead ends after 0.3 miles at the parking area.
Tucson Area and Southern Arizona

Hike details

7.40 [Miles] Total
Hike Distance- Details
7.4 miles for the out and back. (9.0 miles if you go all the way to the border)
4.00 [Hours]
It took us 4.0 hours. We also found a nice pool and relaxed for an hour.
Elevation Change
800 Total gain/loss [Feet]
Elevation Loss
400 Total Elevation Loss[Feet]
Elevation Details
about 400 ft or so
Hike Trail Type
Out and Back


Best Season
  • April
  • May
  • September
  • October
Worst Season
  • January
  • February
  • December
Season Details
All year. With the water, it would be OK in Summer.
Date Hike completed
May 01, 2007


Solitude Details
Very good. We only saw two other hiking groups. I can imagine on other days you can have this canyon all to yourself.


Difficulty Rating
difficulty detail
This place is quite lovely. The out and back allows you to go as far as you like through this lush canyon. Stop and take a swim or grit your teeth and try to reach the Mexico border. Depending on your determination, this hike is between a Moderate and Strenuous hike.


Be Aware of
boulder hopping, scrambling, bushwhacking

Hike Sycamore canyon, Arizona.

From the parking area, follow the trail leading from the end of the road towards Sycamore Canyon. Sycamore Canyon is well shaded in many places with Oak and Sycamore, making this hike an enjoyable one. The other nice feature of this hike is that it is nestled in the Parajita Wilderness, which equates to hiking in a secluded setting. There may be trails to follow, but more often than not, they peter out and you need to do some rock hopping to make your way down the canyon.

The hike starts at the ruins of an 1880s ranch. The Hank and Yank ruins are named after these would be ranchers, who were chased away by native Americans. They left some ruins of their attempt behind, such as the adobe wall near the start of the trail.

After the first mile of hiking, the pools start to appear. They get more picturesque in some of the narrows down canyon. There are a few pools that will require creativity to get around without getting wet, but all can be navigated successfully with some scrambling. If it's warm enough, you should consider a swim. The towering walls of the canyon are decorated with spires and hoodoos, which shrink down on occasion to create narrows. Progress down canyon alternates between game trails, rock hopping, and bushwhacking. Don't worry too much about getting lost, as the hike retains its canyon environment for the duration. There are a few side canyons that pop up once in a while but they are not difficult to distinguish from the main canyon. I recommend taking this canyon slowly and enjoying all the pools and narrows. After about 2 hours of hiking, we found a pool and relaxed with lunch, a swim, and a nap. It makes for a great day in the outdoors of Arizona.

The end of this hike is whenever you want to turn around... or the Mexico border 4.5 miles from the trailhead. I have not been this far, but the border is reportedly marked by a barbed wire fence and a sign.  


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