Hike | Kent Springs/Bog Springs Loop | Madera Canyon
About an hour from Tucson is the city of Green Valley, which is where the Kent Springs/Bog Springs Loop is located. The moderate loop hike can be found in the beautiful Madera Canyon, which includes the Santa Rita Mountains. Madera Canyon is known for its variety of trees –ponderosa pines, silverleaf oaks, and Arizona sycamores– and abundance of wildlife –coyotes, deer, bighorn sheep, coatamundi, black bears, mountain lions, and over 250 species of birds– that make the nature visit exciting.
- Length: 5.8 mi
- Trail Type: Loop Trailhead
- Elevation: 4,800 ft
- Gain/Loss: +1,900
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Dog Friendly: Yes
- Fee: $5 for National Park fee (or Annual National Parks Pass)
My friend Katrina and I’s first time out to Madera Canyon was on Martin Luther King Day. That day was optimal due to the cool weather and national park fee waiver for the holiday. We chose the loop based on its shorter estimated completion time of 2.5-3 hours and its good reviews. Driving into the canyon gave us a view of the beautiful trees that give the park its name (“madera” means “wood” in Spanish), along with sightings of coatimundi and deer. Getting to the right parking lot for the trailhead was a little confusing, but parking in the Bogs Springs Campground or Madera Canyon Picnic Area, where we ended up, will get you to the start of the loop.
After a short 0.7 walk, the trail will fork either left to Bogs Springs or right to Kent Springs, the highest point of the trail. Both return to the same place. Although we went to Kent Springs first out of chance, the path up was much steeper than we expected and had a few switchbacks. Therefore, I’d recommend heading to Bog Springs first if you’d like an easier hike overall.
Ascending to Kent Springs, we were excited to see a clear gurgling creek that split into mini waterfalls and followed the trail for most of the way. At around 9:45, the towering trees provided much appreciated shade and made us forget we were in a desert. Along the way, we passed Sylvester Springs. Here I’d like to warn you that if you were expecting a natural little pond as a spring like I did, you will be a little disappointed to see that the three springs on this loop are man-made concrete square wells with a spigot. The springs are not the wow-factor of the trail; the views along the journey make the trail loved.
We felt accomplished making it to Kent Springs and were ready to finish the rest of the loop, but here is where you learn from the mistakes we were about to make. The sign at Kent Springs has an arrow pointing “up” to Bog Springs which is actually a sharp turn to the left, and an arrow to the right back down to Sylvester Springs. However, there is clearly another trail to the right that continues to ascend the mountain. This third option IS NOT LABELED on the metal sign and was unclear on the printed trail map we had, but is the Four Springs Trail. With all of the leaves from the trees covering part of both trails, we mistakenly took the latter, adding an extra 2000 ft elevation to a different peak and three miles before fully realizing we went the wrong way…that’s for another blog post if you’d like.
So remember, take a sharp left when coming from Kent Springs or a descending right when coming from Bog Springs to finish the loop!!
The path down Bogs Springs awarded us with stunning panoramic views through the tree openings of Mount Wrightson and the canyon. In the distance, we also saw what seemed to be a bright blue lake, but were sadly informed from other hikers that it was a huge vat of toxic waste. Maybe that’s great for aspiring superheroes, but it definitely concerned me for the environment. Anyway, the trail towards the parking lots were a breezy downhill with some areas of rocky patches, much to our relief. Bog Springs is a 0.1 mile detour from the trail and awards you with a nice resting area before the final stretch. According to other hikers, Spring could reward you with growth of wildflowers and other water-loving plants.
Although very tired from our unexpected lengthy hike extension, we were still amazed by the beauty of Madera Canyon and are excited to visit the park again to hike its bounty of other trails, such as Mount Wrightson.