Formerly know as Roundup Picnic Area, the new Mt. Wrightson Picnic Area is located at the end of Madera Canyon Road, as far into this area of beautiful scenery and plentiful wildlife as you can drive. Tables and fire grills are scattered in the shade of a stand of silverleaf and Arizona white oaks. Views stretch up Mt. Wrightson to the top of the Santa Ritas and down Madera Canyon to the Santa Cruz Valley and the community of Green Valley. Four of the most popular trails in the Santa Ritas start right at the Mt. Wrightson Picnic Area.
Two designated National Recreation Trails, Old Baldy National Recreation Trail #372 and the Super Trail #134, both of which lead to the top of Mt. Wrightson, begin their mountain climbing journey from the left of the two parking areas. So does the Very Steep/Vault Mine Trail, which lives up to its name by scaling the north slope of Mt. Hopkins, another of the Santa Rita's highest peaks.
A lot less taxing but no less interesting is the Madera Nature Trail, which leads from the picnic area down Madera Canyon, providing great views and excellent wildlife watching along the way. There is more notable birdwatching and a good place to relax in a shady streamside setting up-canyon from the picnic area, along the higher reaches of sycamore-lined Madera Creek.
Area Amenities: Picnic tables,Toilets,Parking
Fees: Picnicking or other day use: $10.00 per day. All fees are payable by cash, check, or money order at the time you occupy the site. Make check or money order payable to "USDA Forest Service."
Restrictions: No overnight camping allowed. Pets must be on a leash. Horse trailers up to 22 feet can access the left side of Roundup Picnic Area. There are two narrow bridges that must be negotiated, though.
Directions: Drive south from Tucson on Interstate 19 to the Continental Road/Madera Canyon Exit. Turn east and follow the Madera Canyon signs 13.5 miles to the picnic area at the end of the road. The entire route is paved.
Picnicking: Shaded, cool canyon, tables and fire grills. Watchable wildlife/great birdwatching. Mountain stream.Wilderness trails.