Arizona Trail – Three Bridges to Lakes Road
Another gorgeous section of the Arizona Trail, this route from Three Bridges at it’s Northern end to the Lakes Road at it’s Southern Head. Starting at the Southern end, the trail heads northeast past the Twin Tanks, then mostly north crossing several small roads. It turns briefly to the west and then back north again, crossing several more roads and then reaching Sahuarita Road. It loops north and then east and goes under Highway 83 at a culvert. After a short traverse across the desert it crosses the Old Sonoita Highway and then joins a two-track road. After several road junctions, including a powerline access road, it leaves the road and heads north up to Interstate 10. After going under I-10, it climbs up onto a ridgeline and follows that to the Davidson Canyon Gabe Zimmerman Trailhead.
Mostly flowing, fast, and fun! It’s a gentle 600′ climb starting at the northern Gabe Zimmerman trailhead for about 11-miles, cresting at about 4200 feet elevation, with a slight downhill to the southern trailhead. The best part about the climb is that you’ve got roughly 10-miles of mostly downhill back to your car. Out-and-back you’re looking at a 24-mile trip, so plan accordingly with lots of water. There is not much cover through this section so it’s bound to be hot during the summer months.
Directions to Three Bridges Parking: Take Interstate 10 South out of Tucson and get off on exit 281. Hang a left and cross over the highway and once over, instead of merging back onto I-10, hang a RIGHT onto Benson Highway (also called Frontage or Marsh Station Rd). About 3.0 miles in, you’ll swing into the large dirt parking lot on your right, before you cross a bridge over a creek. Ahead of you, you’ll see two train bridges above and to your left. (Hence the name Three Bridges!) From the parking lot, you’ll head northeast and descend into the canyon, wind under a train trestle and climb back out. Hang a sharp left on the dirt road, cross over the paved road, under the OTHER train trestle, and you’ll see the trail due west, just on the other side of the flattened barb-wire fence. OR, if you don’t want to head through the Canyon, just ride along the road until you get across the bridge.
Directions to Lakes Road: Take Interstate 10 South/East out of Tucson and get off on exit 281, heading South. Drive approximately 7.4 miles and you’ll see a dirt road on your right. Hang a right there and drive a short distance, past a wash. You’ll see the parking area on your right, with the AZ Trail there.