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Sonoita Creek

Sonoita Creek
Patagonia Lake as seen from Sonoita Creek trail
Elevation plot: Sonoita Creek
Sonoita Creek
Map: Sonoita Creek
hiking the Sonoita Creek trail
hiking the Sonoita Creek trail


How to Get There
This hike is located near Nogales.

To get to the Trailhead: From the Tucson area, take I-10 South towards Vail. At Vail, take HWY-83 south to Sonoita. In Sonoita, take HWY-82 West (right) to the signed turnoff on the right for Patagonia Lake (about 19.7 miles). After about 3.4 miles, turn left onto Dam Road (signed as the Sonoita Creek Natural Area). Take this well graded dirt road 1.1 miles to the end of the road where there are two trailheads and parking. You will need a permit to park here and can be purchased at the entrance to the lake state park. As of April 2022, the permit is $15 on weekdays and $20 on weekends.
Patagonia Lake
Rio Rico
Tucson Area and Southern Arizona

Hike details

2.80 [Miles] Total
Hike Distance- Details
2.8 miles for the loop hike
1.00 [Hours]
It took us about an hour to complete this hike.
Elevation Change
350 Total gain/loss [Feet]
Elevation Details
about 350 ft down into the creek and back out again
Hike Trail Type
Out and Back


Best Season
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • September
  • October
  • November
Worst Season
  • January
  • February
  • July
  • August
  • December
Season Details
Best weather will be found in the spring or fall
Date Hike completed
April 15, 2022


Solitude Details
Excellent. On a week day we didn't have to share this trail with anyone else.


Difficulty Rating
difficulty detail
This was an easy hike with well worn trails and signed trail junctions.


Be Aware of
cattle, permit area

Hike Sonoita Creek trail near Pategonia, Arizona.

This hike is part of Sonoita Creek State Natural Area and requires a permit, which you can purchase at the nearby entrance to Patagonia lake. As of April 2022, it was $15 weekday, $20 weekend. From the parking area, there are two signed trailheads. For the loop hike described, we'll start on the Sonoita Creek trailhead. The trail here is well worn, signed, and easy to follow. You'll be dropping into the canyon where Sonoita creek makes it's home.

Following the signs to the Sonoita Creek trail, you'll hike through a small forest of Ocotillo trees 0.2 miles to the first signed trail junction (JCT_1R on the map). Stay right here. About a mile from the trailhead start, you'll reach the signed trail junction with the Horse Coral trail (JCT_2R on the map). Stay right again at this signed junction. The trail now drops about 0.5 miles into the canyon area and reaches Sonoita Creek. This riparian area is really lovely, and worth exploring a bit before continuing to the right on the signed return trail for the Black Hawk trail (JCT_3R on the map). This trail follows a bit off of the creek and after about a mile from the last trail junction, you'll reach a dirt road. Turn right and follow this dirt road as it becomes paved and crosses the creek. You'll get nice views of Patagonia Lake here. The paved road climbs up steeply to the trailhead and from the lake it is only about 0.2 miles to the parking area.


Swap Start/End
Adding markers to the map ...