South of Tucson and east of Amado, the Madera Nature Trail is a scenic 6.5 mile ride. This canyon was named Madera (which means lumber or wood in Spanish) because it served as a major source of timber for the city of Tucson over a century ago. It was not long before this accessible haven was better known for the diverse wildlife it sheltered and the cool relief it offered from the desert heat. Today, Madera Canyon continues to be a popular destination for wildlife watchers and nature lovers who come to see the more than 240 species of birds (including more than a dozen species of hummingbirds) that live in its nurturing environment. April and May are the best months for most species; June and September are best for hummingbirds. Birdwatching is at its best up-canyon.
To reach the horseback riding trailhead, exit Interstate 19 at the Continental Road Exit 63.
Turn east under the highway, and follow the signs to Madera Canyon (11 miles).