Milagrosa means “miraculous” in Spanish and indeed, it is a little miraculous to find such a pleasant loop hike tucked away in the far northeast corner of the Tucson valley. The hike dips in and out of both Agua Caliente Canyon and La Milagrosa and cruises ridge tops on both sides of the canyons as it traces its loop. On the ridges the trail sports views of canyons, towering cliffs, and the city of Tucson. Both drainages can show seasonal water and pools, and many hikers forego the loop trail and linger near the water in the canyon bottoms. This is a low elevation hike, one to avoid in summer heat.
Seasonal water in Agua Caliente Canyon
To reach the trailhead, turn east off the Catalina Highway onto Snyder Road and drive for about 1.4 miles before turning left (north) onto Avenida de Suzenu. Park where Avenida de Suzenu dead ends into Horsehead Road near signs warning that night time parking is prohibited. (Public parking is prohibited at all times east along Horsehead Road; please respect this private property.)
Agua Caliente – La Milagrosa loop trail
From the parking area, walk east along Horsehead Road through a residential area for about 0.6 mile till it ends at Wentworth Road. Just past Wentworth step east across a fence near a metal gate, cross Molino Wash and then hike east up a jeep road that contours around a hillside. The jeep trail soon passes a small abandoned rock house and then reaches an intersection with another jeep trail taking off left (north) up a ridge. This intersection marks the beginning and end of the Agua Caliente Canyon – La Milagrosa loop trail. We are describing the loop in a counter-clockwise direction, so bear right at the intersection and continue to the wash below. After crossing the wash, the trail turns left (east) just before a gate marked with a “Private Property” sign. Four or five hundred yards later the trail abruptly turns right (south) and switchbacks very steeply to a ridge top above before continuing east about 1.4 miles to a trail junction. Turn left (north) at the junction and begin the descent into the bed of Agua Caliente Canyon. Once in the creek bed, the trail heads upstream a few hundred yards before leaving the bottom again and switchbacks up the north side of the canyon to the ridge top between Agua Caliente and La Milagrosa. The trail passes another junction (stay left) as it works west back towards the beginning of the hike. Before closing the loop, the trail crosses La Milagrosa, finally descending a broad ridge to the jeep trail junction.
Saguaro sentinels above La Milagrosa
Season: Fall, winter and spring. This hike can be hot, especially in the summer.
Water: There can be seasonal flows in Agua Caliente Canyon and La Milagrosa but bring plenty of your own.
Difficulty: Moderate. The full loop is about 6.1 miles long with an elevation gain of about 1,200 feet including all the ups and downs in and out of Agua Caliente and La Milagrosa.
Click map for larger image