Summary: From the parking area hike south through Chino Canyon. After about 1.4 miles, you'll pass the ruins of the old Elephant Head Mill. The small granite peak to your right is Little Elephant Head. Continue on to the upper reaches of Chino Basin. As you climb out of the basin you will catch your first glimpse of the east ridge of Elephant Head. As soon as you start heading northeast a faint trail will split off of the main trail. It will take you down into the valley, on your left, and up the other side to the prominent saddle at the base of the east ridge. Be alert and don't miss the trail, it is marked by a large cairn. This portion of the trail is hard follow but it is marked with several small cairns. Once at the saddle you've reached the best part.The rest of the hike is easy scrambling up a granite ridge. The route up is marked by closely spaced cairns. Soon you will be standing on the small exposed summit of Elephant Head.
Trailhead: From Tucson take I-19 south to the Canoa Exit #56. Turn left an go under the interstate. Follow the frontage road south for about 2.5 miles to Elephant Head Road. Follow Elephant Head Road to Hawk Road, turn right. Follow Hawk road to its end. Follow the dirt road to a gate. Go through the gate. At this point the road starts getting rough and you will need a high clearance vehicle and 4-wheel drive. Continue on the dirt road until you reach the junction with FSR4073. Follow it down to the right, through a wash and through another gate. Within a mile or so, you will see a sign pointing to Madera Canyon and Chino Canyon. Go to Chino Canyon. Drive as far as you feel comfortable, the road steadily gets worse and the opportunities for turning around get fewer. The prominent parking area at the base of Elephant Head is where I park and what I use as reference for distance.
Trail Guides for Elephant Head: East Ridge Trail:
Best Seasons: Fall, Spring, Winter,
User Groups: Hikers,
Ranger Contact: Coronado National Forest, Nogales Ranger District
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Rob Brinkerhoff, who has posted 33 other hikes on this site
Trail Reviews Submit your own review
Reviewed by Richard on 3/21/2006
An alternative approach to this hike is to come in through Agua Caliente Canyon Get there by taking Elephant Head Road to a right on paved Mt. Hopkins Rd. Drive 1.5 miles on Mt Hopkins Rd, and turn left onto a signed dirt road into Agua Caliente Canyon. This is FSR 183 It is a good road that can be driven in any 2 wheel drive vehicle. Drive 2.3 miles until you see a parking area on right (it's just before you'd drive across a creek bed). The trailhead is slightly back down the road and across the road from parking area, at the FSR 183 sign . 10 Yards in on the trail is Forrest Trail marker # 930. Proceed on the trail .9 mile and turn right at the intersection with the trail comming up Chino Canyon. Follow this trail another .7 mile
Reviewed by Brent on 3/31/2005
An alternative approach to this hike is to come in through Agua Caliente. Get there by taking Elephant Head Road to a right on Mt. Hopkins Rd. Dirt road into Agua Caliente is several miles up on the left. Drive back on dirt road until you see a parking area on right (it's right before you'd drive across the creek bed). Trailhead is across the road from parking area. Think this approach is a bit shorter and accessible to those without 4 wheel drive.
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