Sierra Vista in southeastern Arizona means big hikes and high elevation, and the soaring Huachuca Mountains, with her foothills skirting the city, deliver in spades. With a valley floor elevation at a cool 4,600 feet, the quick rise of the Huachuca Mountains make for some thigh-burning climbs, knock-out views, and surprisingly cool temperatures. At the end of the day, find a melting pot of yummy restaurants to reward your trek.
The Huachucas (pronounce it “wah-CHOO-ka” to sound like a local) are mighty and blanketed with wilderness areas. Four dozen trails (give or take) follow the mountain’s contours for gentle walks and zigzag toward high peaks. The trails are accessible all year long, although you might encounter some snow on the higher ones in winter.
Miller Peak reigns supreme at 9,466 feet. Carr Peak, a close second, is 9,220 feet. Both dwarf Ramsey Peak and Pat Scott peaks, at 8,725 and 8,700 respectively. (“Dwarf” being a relative term; 1,000 feet of hiking elevation is quite a bit when you’re navigating switchbacks in thinning oxygen.) But you can keep it low, and there are multiple access points all along the foothills.
A favorite on-point for horses, hikers, and mountain bikers is Brown Canyon Ranch. Part of the Coronado National Forest, the area was once a working cattle ranch; allow a few minutes to visit the historic adobe house and stroll around the windmill. After that, hit the trail for a shaded forest hike.
Other excellent on-points are in Miller Canyon. The main trail goes all the way to the peak, but there are a bunch of lower loops and easier trails. Another favorite area is Carr Canyon (again, you can gain the peak or stick to the lower loops). If you have a mind to, you can hike the 3.7-mile Perimeter Trail (834 feet in elevation change) from Carr to Miller canyons.
The Hamburg Trail, accessed from Brown Canyon Trail or the gentle path in Ramsey Canyon Preserve, gains some excellent elevation to the Hamburg Overlook where spectacular views await. The Preserve, owned by the Nature Conservancy, is a haven for birds and wildlife. You’ll likely encounter the small Coues deer and a plethora of bird life. The big uphill hike is rewarding; small waterfalls burble down the hillsides past evergreens and deciduous trees (glorious in the fall) amid old homesteads. Scoot back down the trail to the Preserve (the gate is locked at 5 p.m., so watch the time or your vehicle will spend the night) or join up with other trails and keep going.
Learn more about hiking the Huachucas, and your Sierra Vista community base camp, at www.VisitSierraVista.com.