Honeybee Canyon Loop

 2 votes
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Featured Hike
Trail

20.3 Miles 32.6 Kilometers


85%

Singletrack

942' 287 m

Ascent

-940' -286 m

Descent

3,657' 1,115 m

High

2,962' 903 m

Low

2%

Avg Grade (1°)

10%

Max Grade (6°)

Unknown

Update

A mostly smooth trail featuring lots of singletrack hiking with only gradual elevation changes.

Stephen Woodall

Overview

Simply a great hike in the Oro Valley area! Perfect for beginning hikers and seasoned veterans alike. This hike is overall quite smooth and offers fairly minimal elevation gain, with the first half being gradually uphill before descending on the second half. The trail conditions are largely packed dirt with some rutted areas from rain washout. There are a few slightly rocky sections that get a bit more technical but those are few and far between. You'll cross a number of washes but seldom will these have any water. It takes just over a mile from the beginning to reach the singletrack where the fun really begins. This total hike comes in just over 20 miles with options to extend it even longer.

This is a very fun loop trail that offers a shorter 10.1-mile loop option too if you cut over to the left (west) at the 4.35-mile junction where you'll link up with the last part of the hike. There are also multiple extensions (Badlands Trail and Tortolita Pass Trail), with the Tortolita Pass Trail linking up to the Dove Mountain trail system that is usually accessed at the Wild Burro Trail. This hike is remote at the northern end of the loop so be very careful to bring sufficient water in the hotter summer months.
Features: Views — Wildlife

Need to Know

*UPDATE* - Access up the Powerline Road has been restricted by the HOA as of October 1, 2016 so there is no longer an option to start along Rancho Vistoso Boulevard. New permanent trailhead access is in the works with the Town of Oro Valley though. THE BEST ACCESS right now is off of Miravista Lane in Catalina by the church but DO NOT PARK ON THE CHURCH PROPERTY. They have given outdoor enthusiasts permission for this access but BE COURTEOUS and AVOID SUNDAY MORNING HOURS when they're busy. Best parking is in the Basha's shopping center on the east side of Oracle, just north of Golder Ranch Road. There is also access still from Edwin Road further north off of Oracle but the washes are very sandy and the dirt road very rough. 4x4 vehicles highly recommended for the Edwin access.

Description

When parking at the Bashas in Catalina cross to the west side of Oracle at the stoplight by Golder Ranch Road. This point is where all mileages are taken from.

Head south on Oracle for about about 0.2 miles and turn west (right) onto Miravista Lane towards the church. Take a left (south) just past 0.5 miles onto a dirt road. Follow this downhill until the 1.1-mile mark and enter the State Trust Land through the barbed wire fence. The top two strands have hooks that can be unlatched on the left side, HOOK IT BEHIND YOU. The path immediately crosses a large wash and the singletrack begins as it meanders up and down. At 3.1 miles, you'll intersect the Rail X Ranch / Honeybee Canyon Loop right after passing some cattle tanks. Take a right (NW) at this four way intersection. After a half mile of singletrack, you'll reach the Powerline Road (about 3.65 miles from the start). Cross the road and continue on the singletrack heading up the gradual ascent. At 4.35 miles from the start, you'll reach a "Y" in the trail. Stay right to complete this longer route (left will take you on the Honeybee Canyon Short Loop).

At the 6 mile mark, you'll come to a dirt road (Edwin Road) and head across the road veering slightly to the right and back immediately onto singletrack. From about mile 7.1 through 9.4, you'll encounter some of the most steady but minor climbing of the day and probably the hardest section of trail. This is another pretty section of the trail though where you can take in the scenery at various points. At around the 9.15-mile mark, the path will merge with a dirt road. Follow this dirt road up the hill for approximately 0.4 miles, crossing two cattle guards, before turning a hard left back down a singletrack path (approximately 9.5 total distance mark). This is a fairly easy path to see, but it does cut back at a very sharp angle. **Note: The Badlands Trail extension is about 0.2 miles before this turn off on the right-hand side of the road).**

From here, you'll gradually descend back towards a windmill and cattle tank, with a few rolling hills thrown in. Upon reaching the cattle tank, veer slightly right down through a wash and up the hill on the other side. This next 0.6 miles is a bit rocky and involves some of the steeper hill climbs of the day; however, they're still fairly minor. Once you crest the hill, it's pretty much all downhill thereafter. Just after mile 10.4, you'll be following along a fence line with some rolling terrain before opening onto a wider dirt trail and past a water hole. **Note: Those linking with the Tortolita Pass Trail will stay on the dirt trail (crossing Edwin again) rather than crossing the cattle guard**

After hitting this dirt road at the 10.6-mile mark, take a left and cross the cattle guard, then take an almost immediate right down more singletrack. This will lead you past the remnants of an old corral with another scenic windmill. Just beyond the corral, you'll start heading to the right down a dirt road for a VERY SHORT distance before veering to the left down another singletrack path. Keep your eyes on the loose dirt here, and you'll see the mountain bike tracks leading you the correct direction. Enjoy the next few fast miles of gradual downhill!

From here on out, the trail crosses a few more dirt roads but the singletrack path is pretty visibly seen directly across the roads so just keep going straight on singletrack. The next major junction is at about 14.4 miles where you'll again just stay mostly straight (slightly right). This junction is where you would spill out if doing the Honeybee Canyon Short Loop. Right at about mile 15.6, there's one last moderate uphill section with a steeper hill at the end for good measure. From here you'll descend down towards the Powerline Road at which point you'll take a right and follow the Powerline Road for 0.2 miles, then take a left back onto singletrack & follow for 0.35 miles. Turn right at this junction past the tanks and back to the start.

Flora & Fauna

It's the desert so you may encounter rattlesnakes, bobcats, coyotes, javelina, etc. Mountain lions do inhabit the area but are rarely sighted. Cows graze this land too but are pretty docile and are used to human traffic. Plenty of cactus so watch your step! You'll see a great variety of desert plants.

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Sep 8, 2016
Nora Dow- Encinas

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