Madera Canyon is known for exceptional and varied hiking trails. The Mt. Wrightson trailhead provides access to several trails, including the Super Trail and Old Baldy trail, where experienced hikers can climb to higher levels. For these trails, hiking boots and layered clothing for temperature change are needed. Always bring drinking water hiking and stay on the trails. Do not short-cut switch-back trails, this leads to soil erosion. Hiking brochures, with detailed trail maps are available at each trail head and the Santa Rita Lodge.

Hiking in Madera Canyon and The Santa Rita Mountains

Spring is a great time to enjoy hiking in Madera Canyon. The wildflowers are out and the water in Madera Creek is flowing. Next time you are in the Canyon consider taking the Madera Creek Trail. This trail follows the Creek from the Proctor Trailhead to the Amphitheater Trailhead, a 550 feet elevation gain over 1.7 miles. Enjoy this easy-moderate hike by paying special attention to the flowing water. Take your time and check out the many miniature rapids and waterfalls you will encounter. Allow yourself to be soothed by the gurgling of the water flow. As you go by notice the great size and beauty of the white barked native Sycamore trees. You are also likely to see deer and many different species of birds. Think of this as your introduction to the many hiking trails in the Canyon. For maps pick up a copy of the pamphlet “Hiking In Madera Canyon” at any of the trailhead information centers.

Bud Gode Interpretive Nature Trail

The Bud Gode Interpretive Nature Trail (BGINT), the cornerstone of the FoMC mission of Conservation through Education, is a self-guided tour of exhibits in the 5 Madera Canyon recreation sites and trailheads. Twenty-nine vibrant interpretive panels illustrate fascinating aspects of Madera Canyon and the Sky Island region, including climate, geography, plants, animals, life zones/plant communities, geology/formation, Native American presence, recent history, and fire ecology.

Conveniently located, the panels help visitors learn more about Madera Canyon to “whet their appetite” before exploring canyon trails. Detailed, large-scale topographical trail maps are directionally oriented with highlighted trails, labeled features and important rules & tips for hikers. Accessible benches allow easy viewing of the panels, wildlife and canyon scenery, ensuring that the natural history of Madera Canyon is accessible to all canyon visitors.

Exhibit Locations & Features

  • Proctor Parking Area & Trailhead: Interpretive ramada with trailhead panel; geologic timeline at trailhead; Madera Canyon wildlife tiles at Proctor Education Ramada; trailside plant identification signs, bat houses and interpretive signage along Lower Accessible Nature Loop Trail.
  • White House Picnic Area & Trailhead: Trailhead exhibit; bat houses and interpretive signs along Upper Accessible Nature Loop Trail.
  • Madera Picnic Area: Interpretive panel on east-side; wildlife-viewing platform and exhibit on west-side.
  • Amphitheater Parking & Trailheads: Birding platform with exhibit, canopy-level bridge for wildlife-viewing with trailhead panel; the Amphitheater across Madera Creek for wildlife-viewing and presentations; trailside plant identification signs, bat houses and interpretive signage along the Nature Trail.
  • Mt. Wrightson Picnic Area & Trailheads: Interpretive ramada with native plants; additional interpretive panels on restrooms near trailheads.

Read more about Bud Gode

Orrin “Bud” Gode - October 24, 1924 - May 1, 2005

Bud was born in Iowa where he resided most of his life. An only child, his mother encouraged him to explore nature; he became an avid bird watcher and Eagle Scout. As a 2nd Lieutenant during WW II, Bud flew 35 missions as a navigator in B-17s. After the war he wed Mary Cooney and they had three sons and a daughter. Bud graduated from the University of Iowa and worked as a county engineer in Johnson County, Iowa City. He loved to be outdoors with his children and was active in the Boy Scouts with his sons for over 20 years.

A part-time student during his working years, Bud returned full-time to the university and Iowa Lakeside Laboratory after retiring. He took every biology class offered, trained as a docent at the University of Iowa Natural History Museum and volunteered at the raptor center. Bud was a primary researcher in a survey of Iowa dragonflies in the 1990s. Studying dragonflies became a passion and he published several scientific papers on the subject.

The Godes moved to Arizona in 1998. Bud joined the Friends of Madera Canyon and served as a natural history docent, clean-up crew coordinator, education director and president. When not volunteering for the Friends, he was exploring the canyon. He loved identifying plants, collecting insects and making written observations on the habits of Elegant Trogon. A leader by example, Bud inspired participation and love of nature. He provided proof of the power of one individual to effect positive change.

Proctor Interpretive Panel

Ramada with Interpretive panels

Bud Gode Commemorative Plaque

Proctor Trail Accessibility Project Completed!

Come on up and visit the New Proctor Accessible Trail. After years of planning it’s finally happened! The old broken asphalt has been removed and replaced with a wider concrete walkway, a new bridge, a beautiful stone knee wall and viewing area overlooking Madera Creek. These changes will enable people of all ages and abilities to enjoy the natural beauty that is Madera Canyon. Thanks to all the Friends that supported the upgrade and especially to the U.S. Forest Service for making it so in October, 2019.

Recognizing the Special Relationship between Friends of Madera Canyon and the GVR Green Valley Hiking Club

By David Linn

As former president and hikemaster of the Green Valley Hiking Club and current vice-president of Friends of Madera Canyon, I am in a unique position to acknowledge and value the enduring relationship these two organizations hold. We are linked by our abiding love for the Canyon. We have shared history and values in that we have both been around for a while, with the hiking club established in 1981 and, of course, FoMC was founded in 1987. In fact, the first club hike conducted was up the Madera Canyon Nature Trail.

Our interests have been united in the conservation and maintenance of the Canyon for public recreational opportunities. In mutual pursuit of these goals, we have each repeatedly signed volunteer services agreements with the Forest Service of Coronado National Forest.

The hiking club is probably the biggest consumer of the Madera Canyon bounty with our hikers climbing into the Canyon on a daily basis. And on the Thursday group club hikes Madera’s trails are filled with happy hikers enjoying the views, the wildflowers, the birds, and occasional bear sightings. Southeastern Arizona is rich in nearby mountain ranges that are frequently hiked by the club. But Madera Canyon and the Santa Rita Mountains are truly the home range.

The advocacy efforts for a thriving Madera Canyon are and should be a concern for all who participate in enjoying her gifts. The Green Valley Hiking Club and Friends of Madera Canyon will remain linked in that common purpose.

David Linn

News from the US Forest Service (USFS)

The USFS wants to share that the USFS Madera Canyon Recreation Guide is now available online in English and Spanish.

English | Spanish

You can navigate to them (and the other guides that have been developed) on the website by selecting Visit Us > Maps & Publications and then scrolling down to "Recreation Guides."

The USFS also created a new landing page for Madera Canyon on the Forest's website. You can find it here.

You can navigate to it on the website by selecting Visit Us > Destinations > Madera Canyon