South of Tucson and east of Amado, the Quantrell Mine Trail (13 miles) has soaring views of the Santa Cruz Valley, the Santa Rita foothills, and Elephant Head Rock are your reward on this short, rather difficult desert journey. The trail starts in the upper reaches of a branch off Chino Canyon and follows an old roadbed as it angles up the grass- and cactus-covered western slopes of the Santa Ritas. Good views of Mt. Hopkins, the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory at its summit, Madera Canyon to the north, and the Tumacacoris and Baboquiviris to the west make this an excellent trail for those who like expansive views. History buffs will find it to their liking, too, because the trail follows an old road grade constructed around the turn of the century to provide access to a number of mines, including the Quantrell. This extensive dig produced considerable gold, silver, and lead ore during its heyday. Some of the old loading facilities are still visible along the trail, as is some rather impressive road work.
To reach the horseback riding trailhead Via Agua Caliente: Leave Interstate 19 at the Canoa Road Exit. Take the east frontage road 3 miles south to Elephant Head Road and turn east 106 miles to the Mt. Hopkins Road. Drive 4.5 miles to Forest Road 183. Turn north on this dirt road about 2.4 miles to a parking area just before the road crosses the streambed. Park here and travel back down the road to a sign that marks the mountain bike trail. Follow this trail about a mile to the sign that marks the wilderness boundary. The mountain bike trail heads down-canyon here, while the Quantrell Mine Trail continues to diagonal uphill toward Elephant Head Rock.