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Location: East portion of Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge in southern Arizona
Counties: Pima County
Two miles west of the small community of Arivaca, Arizona, along the Arivaca-Sasabe Road at milepost 10.5
The trail meanders along the seasonally wet Arivaca Creek stream course, under giant cottonwoods and through lush vegetation which attracts songbirds, woodpeckers, owls, and coatis (raccoon relatives). A short side trail leads from the stream bed to the 1870s-era adobe ranch house of Eva Wilbur-Cruce, who wrote about growing up here in "A Beautiful Cruel Country."
A quarter-mile downstream from the trailhead, Mustang Trail branches off and provides a chance for a vigorous 5-mile round-trip hike to Mustang Saddle and then via switchbacks to the top of El Cerro, a small mountain. Mustang Trail has no shade and is best experienced in the cooler winter months. Along Arivaca Creek Trail in spring and summer, brilliant vermillion flycatchers flit among branches along the creek. The summer air is alive with calls from summer tanagers, yellow-breasted chat, cardinals, and phainopeplas.
Arivaca Creek Trail is significant ecologically because it preserves riparian (streamside) habitat. Arizona has lost more than 90% of its riparian habitat due to human-caused activities such as channelization, livestock grazing, development, and water table pumping. The shade, moisture, lush greenery and abundant insects attract a wide variety of bird life. In turn, this makes Arivaca Creek Trail a destination for bird watchers.
The trail along Arivaca Creek takes visitors through rare and valuable desert southwest wetland and riparian habitats, homes for listed endangered species, species of concern, and many other native plants and wildlife. Nearly 340 species of birds have been recorded at Buenos Aires NWR, many of them along Arivaca Creek. Several subtropical birds are occasionally seen at Arivaca Creek, at the northern edge of their range. Examples are the northern beardless Tyrannulet, green kingfisher, and tropical and thick-billed kingbirds. Birders come to southeastern Arizona, including Arivaca Creek, to sight these subtropical specialties. Interpretive signs are located on a large kiosk in the parking lot, with 2 or 3 additional interpretive signs along the trail. The trailhead has one picnic table, and one bench is located along the trail.
Width: 48 inches.
Primary Surface: Soil
Secondary Surface: Soil
Maximum Grade: 5%
Elevation Low Point: 3,600
Elevation High Point: 3,700
Elevation Gain (cumulative): Not Available
Year Designated: 2005
Supporting Webpages and DocumentsWebsite: USFWS Trail Information
For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.
P.O. Box 109
Sasabe , AZ 85633 -0109
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