Riggs Lake Photo by J. MacFarland

Pinaleño Mountains, Coronado National Forest

Leave a review Riggs Lake Photo by J. MacFarland Stream on Mt. Graham Photo by Drew Milsom Grant Creek Photo by Devon Atop Mount Wrightson Photo by Drew Milsom

The Pinaleño Mountains are a remote mountain range in southeastern Arizona within the Coronado National forest.

Photo by J. MacFarland
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Contact Information

Safford Ranger District
711 14th Avenue, Suite D
Safford, AZ 85546

(928)428-4150

Atop Mount Wrightson Photo by Drew Milsom
Photo by Drew Milsom

More about Pinaleño Mountains, Coronado National Forest

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The Pinaleno Mountain Range is a "Sky Island" of the Coronado National Forest and the tallest mountain in southern Arizona. The Swift Trail, named for T.T. Swift, the first supervisor of the Coronado National Forest, is the trail that takes you up the Pinalenos. The journey takes you from cactus-studded Sonoran desert at 2,900 feet in the Gila Valley to forests of pine, spruce and fir at 10,000 feet. The extreme elevation and habitat variations result in greater diversity of plants and animals than on most other forests in the nation. More than 576 species of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians call the Coronado National Forest their home and are not found in any other National Forest. The cool moist characteristics of the mountain have aided in the evolution of 18 different plants and animals found nowhere else in the world.

Come to the Chamber of Commerce to get your "Pinaleno Driving Tour" brochure that will give a mile by mile tour of the mountain. Several points of interest will vie for your attention along this historic route constructed during the Great Depression by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps. At the top, there is the Columbine Visitor Center that was later built to house the firefighters and forest workers, and to provide a center for information about area attractions. Today, there is a bookstore which provides all kinds of books, maps and educational gifts.

In addition to these points of interest, the road provides access to a number of hiking trails and many campgrounds.

Access: Drive south from Safford on US 191. About 8 miles from the center of town turn southwest on AZ 366, the Swift Trail, and continue 35.2 miles to the end of the road.

Mileage/Driving Time: 70.4 miles round trip, allow about 5 hours (more for a few side trips.)

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Hiking and Walking Trails

Pinaleño Mountains, Coronado National Forest has the following hiking and walking trails available to the public. Click the trail to learn more about it, it's length, difficulty rating and how to access it.

Arcadia Trail # 328 , Ash Creek #307 & Ash Creek Detour Trail #307 A , Bear Canyon Trail #299 , Blue Jay Ridge Trail #314 , Clark Peak Trail #301 , Cunningham Loop #316 *Mountain Biking* , Deadman Trail #70 , Dutch Henry Trail #297 , Grant Creek Trail #305 , Grant Goudy Ridge Trail #310 , Grant Hill Loop #322 *Mountain Biking* , Heliograph Trail #328A , Ladybug Trail #329 , Round the Mountain Trail #302 , Shake Trail #309 , Taylor Canyon Trail #306 , Webb Peak Trail #345

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Arcadia Trail # 328

Because of the notable views it offers, Arcadia Trail has been designated a National Recreation Trail, placing it among the most outstanding trails in the nation. Most people travel this popular pathway from Shannon Campground to Arcadia because it’s mostly downhill in that direction. The course it follows winds in and out of stands of trees that are made up mostly of Douglas-fir, Engelmann spruce and quaking aspen on the upper end, while changing gradually to ponderosa pine and silverleaf oak on more southern facing slopes as the trail nears Arcadia Campground.

Near the upper trailhead there is an area that has been logged and remains relatively open where you may find some tasty wild raspberries if you come in late summer. Beyond a series of switchbacks at about a mile from the trailhead, Heliograph Trail #328A climbs to the top of Heliograph Peak where the rugged landscape of southeastern Arizona forms a sweeping, unbroken panorama. Many who use this trail take this spur and follow the Heliograph Road back to Shannon Camp for a loop of about 4 miles.

As the trail drops toward Arcadia it provides good views of distant peaks and nearby canyons. Just above Arcadia Campground, the trail crosses a small drainage shaded by riparian species such as box elder and bigtooth maple. There are usually some colorful wildflowers here as well. Watch for black bears and white-tailed deer along the trail, and for Aberts squirrels scurrying among the trees.

Length: 5.1 miles

Rating: More Difficult

Access: To the Shannon Campground Trailhead, drive south from Safford 8 miles on US 191 to AZ 366 (the Swift Trail). Turn right (southwest) onto AZ 366 and drive 22 miles to the campground entrance on the right side of the road. Follow the road through the campground to the trailhead at the turnaround. The lower trailhead is at the Upper Arcadia Campground and Picnic Area 11.5 miles from the AZ 366/US 191 intersection. The trailhead is at the rear of Upper Arcadia Campground.

 

Camping

The following camping areas are available to the public in the Pinaleño Mountains, Coronado National Forest. Click the area below to learn more about it and how to get there.

Arcadia Campground , Cunningham Campground , Hospital Flat Campground , Noon Creek Picnic Area , Riggs Flat Campground , Round the Mountain Picnic Area , Shannon Campground , Soldier Creek Campground , Wet Canyon Picnic Area

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Arcadia Campground

Trailers up to 22 feet are allowed. 16 camp units. Toilet facilities. Elevation at 6,700 feet

Access: Swift Trail, mile marker 11.6

 

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