South of Tucson and east of Amado, the Old Baldy Trail (#372) leads to the 9,453 summit of Mt. Wrightson (as does the Super Trail). Of the two, Old Baldy is the shorter and steeper, while the Super Trail is longer, but has a more moderate gradient. The trails form a figure eight, making it possible to put together a number of different loops, using different portions of each for ascent or descent.
Old Baldy is the more heavily traveled, and also remains the cooler of the two by keeping a more northerly aspect and staying in the trees for almost its entire length. The Super Trail stays within the same drainage as its steeper cousin in the lower loop of the 8, but follows a more south-facing slope through a high desert environment in the upper loop. Above the midpoint of the 8, at Josephine Saddle, the Super Trail loops around the south side of the mountain through even more arid country, while Old Baldy switchbacks through thickets of New Mexico locust on a west-facing slope at Baldy Saddle. The last mile to the summit of Mt. Wrightson via the Crest Trail is the same no matter which trail you ve followed to the saddle.
The views from the summit are, to say the least, breathtaking. The Santa Catalinas near Tucson, Mt. Graham to the east, and the high peaks of the Huachucas to the southeast combine with sweeping views of the Santa Cruz and San Pedro valleys to form a 360º panorama. Actually, you dont even have to go all the way to the top to enjoy great views. Many of these landmarks are visible from dozens of overlooks along both trails. And while youre at it, remember that all thats worth seeing here is not in the distance. The birdwatchers heaven that exists in Madera Canyon extends up the mountain into this area where, in addition to the birds, you may see Coues white-tailed deer, black bear, and even mountain lion if youre very lucky. The Old Baldy trail also boasts an impressive pot pourri of tree species characteristic of southeastern Arizona including Arizona, Apache, and Chihuahua pines, as well as Arizona madrone and a variety of oaks.
To reach the horseback riding trailhead, exit Interstate 19 at the Continental Road/Madera Canyon Exit 65 and follow the Madera Canyon Road about l3.5 miles to the Roundup Picnic Area entrance.
Turn left here, and drive into the trailhead parking lot.