Arivaca Creek Loop and Mustang Trail
ElevationAscent: 935' 285 m
Descent: -935' -285 m
High: 4,447' 1,355 m
Low: 3,534' 1,077 m
GradeAvg Grade: 8% (5°)
Max Grade: 43% (23°)
“This is an excellent quick dive into the woods to check out this riparian zone filled with life.”— Matt Freeman
Features Birding · Views · Wildlife
Since the creation of the refuge, pronghorn elk have been reintroduced and can usually be seen closer to the refuge headquarters. There is an abundance of plants and critters to see in this refuge. Check out the visitor center for more information. The staff is quite friendly and knowledgeable.
The trailhead has excellent signs that introduce visitors to the refuge. This particular trailhead is on the east side of the refuge.
Need to Know
Cross the drainage, and eventually you'll reach Mustang Trail. The trails are well marked, and there are several signs to define the trail. Pop out of the riparian vegetation if you choose Mustang Trail, and put the field glasses away. You'll quickly find a desert scene with tall grass among the smaller mesquite trees, cactus, and other desert vegetation. The trail surface is rocky. With quick feet—and hands—hop over the rocks and dodge the stickers that are constantly trying to poke, grab, and rip at your skin and clothes. The trail gently ascends a ridge, passes through a barbed-wire fence, pops over a saddle, and eventually goes to the back side of the mountain before steeply climbing to the summit for a great 360-degree view of the area.
Drop back down the mountain and unpack the field glasses before entering the riparian zone. You'll get a few more views of the colorful birds as you make your way back to the trailhead on the Arivaca Creek Trail.