Tortolita Mountains Loop

The Tortolita Mountains are a range of hills on the north side of Marana, to the west of the Santa Catalinas. The Ritz-Carlton hotel is nestled in the southern edge of these hills, at the base of Wild Burro Canyon.

Access: Drive up Dove Mountain Blvd and down the other side. At the roundabout, turn right on N Secret Springs Drive, following signs for the Ritz-Carlton resort and the Wild Burro trailhead. Go past the guardhouse and gate and the Wild Burro trailhead is a large dirt parking area up near the hotel, on the right. There are good street signs directing you there, and good toilets once you arrive.

Trails: There are quite a few trails in the hills but you can pretty much cover the whole area by doing just one long loop hike. We set out to do the Tortolitas Superloop but ended up doing a slightly shorter loop of about 16 miles. This is perhaps the best loop in the area: it’s beautiful and varied, the trails roll and twist, and are all well maintained and well signed. Absolutely well worth doing.

We failed to do the Superloop because we went counter-clockwise and missed an unmarked turnoff when we didn’t pay attention to the trail app we were using (Route Scout). The recommended way to do the Superloop goes up the Cochie Springs Trail, which dead ends, then follows an unmaintained trail to rejoin the main loop.

The loop we did takes the following trails, all well marked.

  •  Head north from the trailhead on the Wild Burro Trail
  • Turn right and follow the Alamo Springs Trail almost to its end
  • Turn right and follow the Ridgeline Trail then the Loop Trail then the Wild Burro Trail
  • Turn right and follow the Wild Mustang Trail
  • Turn left and follow the Upper Javelina Trail back to the Wild Burro Trail then follow that south back to the trailhead.

The Alamo Springs and Ridgeline Trails are fantastic, with some of the best views in these hills. At one point you get great views down into the exclusive residential area of Canyon Pass. The central part of the hike, down the Wild Burro Trail, is flatter and less interesting, then things get more interesting when you head up the Wild Mustang Trail. The final descent down the Upper Javelina Trail is the steepest and rockiest part of the hike.

Some of the trails allow mountain bikes but we saw only 6 mountain bikes when we did the hike on 1/1/2020.

Links and Other Clicks

Here is the Hike Arizona page about the Tortolitas Superloop. And the page showing the loop with elevation profile.

Another page about the loop from one of other hikers on the trip.

There is some great information about hiking in the Tortolita Mountains. Here is detailed document about all the trails. Here is a brochure that includes a map of the trails. Here is a map of the Tortolita Mountain Trails with distances shown. And this page has a Google Earth photo with the trails marked.

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