Ramsey Canyon Preserve & Hamburg Trail - Sierra Vista, AZ
For Labor Day Weekend I was looking for a getaway from Tucson. I immediately thought of my go to's for early fall: White Mountains, Flagstaff, Sedona. But I knew all of those locations would be packed and the thought of driving through Phoenix to get to those locations made me want to just stay home.
I'd just finished reading Wynne Brown's biography of Sara Plummer Lemmon called "The Forgotten Botanist" and was reminded that Sara and her husband JG Lemmon spent a lot of time botanizing the Huachucas, an Arizona Sky Island I'd never visited before! I looked on a map and quickly started planning my trip there.
There are many trails in the Huachucas, including the Arizona Trail which starts at the border with Mexico not too far from Sierra Vista, AZ. When I worked at Summit Hut the area most recommended for the Huachucas was Ramsey Canyon. I got my hands on Leonard Taylor's "Trails of the Huachucas" and started doing research on the trails and the Huachucas in general. This book was my best resource as there isn't a handy map for this region unlike almost every other mountain range in the Southwest.
The Huachucas are part of the Coronado National Forest and one of the mountain ranges that make up the Arizona Sky Islands, a collection of mountains in Southern Arizona and northern Mexico that hold an abundance of biological diversity. I always love exploring new places so I was eager to see what the Huachuas had in store for me.
I got an early start because I was worried about the parking situation, especially on a holiday weekend. The Hamburg Trail starts behind the Ramsey Canyon Preserve Visitor Center and there's only 27 parking spots. I got there Saturday morning 15 minutes before they officially opened and found plenty of parking. I was one of three cars there. The Visitor Center wasn't open so I walked around the building into the Preserve. The creek was full of water thanks to a good monsoon season. I walked past old cabins from miners and settlers from the 1800s and informative signs pointing out different species and explaining more about the ecology of the canyon.
Ramsey Canyon is a very popular bird watching area. I also saw many different species of butterfly. After about 1 mile the trail left the Preserve and started to climb and I officially passed into the Wilderness boundary and the Hamburg Trail began.
I got extremely lucky with weather, I was able to hike all day under cloudy, overcast skies and the temperature was in the 70s, perfect for hiking! I was so happy to see how green everything was! And even more excited to see a few hints of fall!
The normally gentle creek following the canyon was full and made for some interesting creek crossings. I was able to keep my boots mostly dry thanks to the help of my trekking poles. I stopped counting creek crossings after I hit twenty, make sure you're ready for those!
When I got back to the Visitor Center it was open so I paid the $10 entry fee that I skipped that morning. I talked to one of the volunteers about some of the animals that had been spotted earlier that week and about how green everything was.
I had such a great time visiting Ramsey Canyon and getting a first glimpse of the Huachucas. I definitely will be back, there's a lot more to explore out there!
Ramsey Canyon Preserve & Hamburg Trail #122
Date hiked: September 3, 2022
Total miles: 7.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,500 feet
Total time: 7 hours
Land Acknowledgement: O'odham, Tohono O'odham, Chiricahua Apache