One of the lesser known and used trails in the Coronado National Forest, / Redington Pass - Central Plateau, Chimney Rock trail is actually a series of Forest Service Roads, FR#371, FR#36, FR#4431, FR#4431A, FR#4438, and finally FR#4430 when running from west to east.
This trail has about all the kinds of four wheeling that Southern Arizona has to offer. Vehicles will encounter high desert oak scrubland, deep washes, rocky climbs, deep V washouts, route finding challenges, woodlands, waterholes, boulder crawls, crazy gates and many points of interest along the way.
Part of it can be accomplished in a 2 wheel drive vehicle with good ground clearance, but to do the entire trail you should count on needing some rock rails, skid plates, and capable driving skills. Arizona pinstripes are guaranteed on this trail as the wash is choked with bushes that will reach out and put these little badges of honor on the side of your rig. But above all of this, the scenery of the eastern Catalina Mountain foothills and the astounding geology make this one of the classic Tucson area trails.
A large triangular intersection marks the spot of the Trailhead and connection to Belotta Ranch Rd. FR#36. Turn left (north). This section is easy (though bumpy) road that is suitable for almost any vehicle. You will travel down into the oak-covered hillsides and wash bottoms that might be a little tricky during rainy times.
Generally, folks that want to run trails in Redington Pass stop at the Circle K at 11271 E Tanque Verde Rd. There is a large dirt area there to air down (recommended if you value your kidneys) or fill up on gas/snacks before heading into the pass. It's only a few miles to dirt from here.
Take Tanque Verde Road east out of Tucson. Follow Tanque Verde Road until it becomes Redington Road (mile 0.0) and continue east. Redington Road enters the Coronado National Forest where the pavement meets the dirt at (mile 3.0). From this point continue on Redington Road to about (mile 11.5), just a little ways past the Alhambra Staging area finds you at a triangle intersection with Forest Service Road 36 (Belotta Ranch Rd) on the left. This is the western entrance to the series of Forest Roads known as "Chimney Rock Trail".
FUN Trail! Just be prepared for a longer day if it is your first time on Chimney Rock trail, I under estimated. If you are not used to driving up a wash, almost half of this trail is in and out of, you will spend more time finding your line. If you are experienced at it the estimated time on the main page would be correct. I know now that I would go through it a lot quicker the second time.
I unfortunately did not have the opportunity to run this trail before the Burro fire when some of the obstacles had to be tamed for the fire crews. That being said, those areas that Jim elaborates on in his post below (Waypoints 12, 13, 15) still hold true 1 year later.
This trail was a blast and the most fun I have had with the BloodRunner in Southern AZ. However, I still need to do Chiva Falls - will update with that review when completed. Waypoint 20 Steep Hill V with Sharp Rock protruding has been washed out a little more. I chose to climb over the rock with driver side just on the hill side, air your tires down to make this easier. Waypoint 21 is just a lot of fun. If I wasn't pressed for time I would have tried all 3 lines. These areas definitely take some skill in navigating and use of 4low.
Oh yeah - get read for some pinstripping, plenty to be had on this trail. Wear them as a badge of honor and enjoy the trail.
It has been since the Burro fire that I have visited this trail. There are significant changes since it's very likely this was the last stand line of defense against that wildfire. As a result, a bulldozer was run down this trail and has obliterated several obstacles. (I will update the waypoints with the new look of these obstacles).
The rocky ascents/descents right after Chimney rock, that lead to the formerly off camber obstacle, are now tamed down quite a bit. No longer are there 2' shelves to descend. :(
The good news- The mesquite bosque in the bottom of Bullock Canyon is largely untouched. (Save the head knocker tree).
(Waypoint 12) Gone is the off camber section that was a rock outcrop. The steep hill beyond has been tamed into a single easy track.
(Waypoint 13)The Tire in the Air obstacle is now bulldozed flat. The tree that was your marker to steer toward is now uprooted and lying on the ground.
(Waypoint 15)The Head Knocker Low tree branch is no more. In fact, the entire tree is just a charred remain, and the road that once went underneath it is re-routed leaving a forlorn fork in the road.
The rest of the trail is pretty much the same with the exception of the hill with the boulder sticking out on the right, it appears the boulder has been shaved a little. (I might be wrong but it looked easier).
I have added a NEW waypoint called the "Stupid Gate" Look at the photos to see why I call it this.
There was a lot of water at the second water hole, the 1st waterhole was dry.
This is STILL my favorite trail, expect lots of pinstriping and some fun boulder scrambles. The rating has not changed from Moderate since there are significant opportunities to cave your rocker panel in on this trail. There are still some Low 4x4 required climbs/descents and several water crossings.
Fun little trip to test the waters in my first real off-road trip and break in the new truck. Went from West to East in a stock ZR2 and just kept it in 2WD with the rear locked all the way to Chimeny Rock. Great place to catch some shade and lunch. (Carried out some trash stashed under Chimney Rock on the way out, bit of a shame people could careless about dumping trash.) Had turn around and head back West to Reddington Rd as thunderstorms started rolling in. Would recommend to anyone.
Prior to this run we 2 of our members did a prerun prior to our club Meet. Afterwards they contacted the forest service and the owners of Bellota ranch regarding trail conditions. Our Bronco Club ran this trail as a night run with 5 rigs. At way point 12 the off camber Bump now has a significant wash out in it. On the pucker scale in a Lifted fullsize rig is 7-8. The Forest service is considering repairing it or farming it out the Local Rough riders Club. At way point 15 the low lying tree branch is no longer a factor, in fact the whole tree is now ash. As are the majority of the trees ln this area. Last years fire decimated this whole area. With that said way point 18 "the Wash Proper" is very rough. What rains Tucson has gotten; that water has changed the wash along the entire trail, due to the lack of vegetation. Route finding or trying to follow the original route in the wash is well its just not there but it doesn't matter either. In all it was still a fun trail to run and maybe a little more rough than what it use to be. We still got a Stock Full Size Bronco through without incident.
I moved to Arizona in 1984 and bought my first offroad vehicle the next year. I had lots of adventures, seeking out the Old West on paper topo maps in my Toyota FJ40 and can say, fortunately, that I never had to walk home. In 2005 I saw the prototype for the FJ Cruiser, and in the middle of my FJ40 resto project, someone came into my garage with cash and bought it out from under me. (Some regrets) In 2008, I flew out to LA to pick up my FJ Cruiser, special ordered with the Offroad Package (Locker) and MT6. My area of operations has been Southern Arizona, from the New Mexico to California borders.
I have been an active member of AZFJ.org where I'm the top post contributor, and have many trail reviews posted there that I plan on enhancing, revisiting and documenting for this authoritative source. I have a login to Ih8Mud and fjcruiserforums but don't lurk there very much.
in my career, I've had the pleasure of traveling in Canada, the Caribbean, and Australia but never had the opportunity to wheel there. (bucket list). But, I hope my 30 years of Southern Arizona discovery, teaching and leading people into the backcountry will finally benefit a wider audience here on Trailsoffroad. There's nothing I enjoy more than finding a historic site, a little-used trail that had significance or the opportunity to take that one photo that defines what we do. (I stink but I'm willing to learn).
Oh..Added benefit...I'm the GIS analyst for a fire dept and as such have some skills in ArcGIS.