Saturday, November 18, 2023

Ramsey Canyon Preserve - Ramsey Canyon Trail and Hamburg Trail

Corona de Tucson

November  18, 2023

Ramsey Canyon is a deep, wooded ravine on the east side of the Huachuca Mountains near Sierra Vista in south Arizona...about 70 miles from our home.  The stunning beauty of Ramsey Canyon has attracted folks for centuries.  The canyon namesake is Gardner Ramsey, an early settler looking for gold in the area who built by hand a 2.5 mile road from what is now the preserve headquarters to Hamburg Mine back in the 1880s.  The first documented resident of Ramsey Canyon is William Berner.  Unlike the prospectors, Berner admired the canyon's unique beauty and spent his time planting trees and building cabins.  Dr. Nelson Bledsoe lived in nearby Bisbee and was the company doctor for Arizona Mining Co. who also treated nearby residents.  As it turns out, Dr. Nelson treated William Berner for an illness.  As a form of payment for his medical treatment, Berner willed (upon his death) his land holdings in the canyon to Dr. Bledsoe  and by the mid 1930s, Dr. Nelson was the owner of 280 acres in Ramsey Canyon where he and his wife spent much of their time.  Official recognition of this ecological significant area came in 1965 when the canyon was registered as the first National Natural Landmark.  In 1974, Dr Nelson generously donated his land to The Nature Conservatory fulfilling his wish that the natural values of the canyon be preserved for future generations without any disturbance whatever to habitat, plant, or animal populations.  

Acquisitions have expanded the preserve to 380 acres.

Since buying our home in Feb. '21, we have enjoyed a subscription to Arizona Highways Magazine...a wealth of information with points of interest, off the beaten path destinations, scenic drives, lots of history and gorgeous photography.  I first learned about Ramsey Canyon in the July 2022 issue when Hamburg Trail was the "Trail of the Month". 

A morning at the preserve begins at the Visitor Center/Headquarters...literally as Ramsey Canyon Trail begins just outside the back door.  There are only 27 parking spaces at the preserve and parking along the street is prohibited. An entrance fee of $8.00 is required and children under 13 are free.    

Also just outside the backdoor is a bird viewing area complete with rocking chairs and lots of benches...which we enjoyed at the end of our hike.  As you begin, the trail meanders along Ramsey Creek  

We only heard and saw a trickle of water today...

Along the Ramsey Canyon Trail, there are two optional loops.  Joe and I enjoyed both.  First is Grandview Loop.  The highlights are...

The log cabin was built by John James in 1902.  From the late 1880s to the late 1920s, the canyon was home to almost 100 settlers. 

This 1911 cabin was built by John James after his family outgrew the smaller log cabin.

Beautiful views from the cabin and the creek was just past the grass.

The second loop is Bledsoe Loop.

There wasn't any information about this fireplace,  I loved it and suppose it along with other foundations we saw are from homes William Berner and/or other early settlers built. 

We did notice this plaque on a tree behind the fireplace. 

Mule Deer call the canyon home. Our brochure included a long list of wildlife a visitor might encounter...Ringtail Cats, Arizona Black Bears, Mountain Lions are just a few of those listed.  

At the end of the Bledsoe Loop is a choice...left will return to the Visitor Center and right to the Hamburg Trail. 

We turned right.  It was quite the workout as we climbed 500 feet in a half mile up a series of switchbacks to an overlook on Miller Mountain.  There are 9 benches strategically placed along the way.  We made a stop at bench #6 for water and to catch our breath.  I realized I didn't get any photos going up, but I did turn around once...

and stopped often to check out the views along the way.

It was well worth the effort to get to the overlook.  And kudos to us as it was the hardest hiking we have done in a very long time...short and steep ! 

At 9,465 ', Miller Mountain is the highest mountain in the Huachuca Mountain Range and Miller Peak, is the second highest peak in Cochise County. This is also the most southerly peak and land area to rise above 9,000' in the Continental U.S.  

We hiked to an overlook at 6,200'  and the end of the Hamburg Trail.   

And what goes up...goes down.

After the hike back down, we followed the rest of the Ramsey Creek Trail back to the VC.  All total with Ramsey Creek Trail, both loops and Hamburg Trail we logged 3 miles on this in-out trail.  As written in Arizona Highways...There are better known canyons in Arizona - Canyon de Chelly, Oak Creek Canyon, the Grand Canyon - but Ramsey Canyon belongs on any list of the state's most spectacular chasms.  Unlike the others, Ramsey is not defined by its panoramas.  Rather, it's the intimacy of this wooded wonderland that makes it so special.  What a wonderful, peaceful, and beautiful way to spend a few hours !  

Along Ramsey Creek Trail there are 16 numbered markers and a brochure from the VC gives information about why the marker is there.  The tree rings in this Arizona Sycamore date it to 1760.  

It is explained how its brittle branches are prone to breaking and eventually becoming stumps that provide homes for the birds.  

Ramsey Canyon has been visited by birders for over a century.  It is best known for its diversity of hummingbirds in season, but many other birds are often seen such as the Elegant Trojan, Bridled Titmouse, Spotted Towhee and Painted Redstart. 

We had a couple of appointments this week in Tucson.  On the way home from one of them, we stopped at First Watch for brunch.  It was a first time stop there, but will not be the last.  First Watch is a nautical reference to the first work shift of the day.  The restaurants are open from 7:00am to 2:30 pm and feature breakfast/brunch using fresh, local and seasonal ingredients.  We both ordered the Farmhouse Skillet with roasted potatoes and onions, lots of crispy bacon, avocado, topped with two eggs over easy and served with multi-grain toast.  

Last Sunday, we met Jamie and Andra for lunch at the Cheesecake Factory.  Some one had a birthday...number 50...yikes!  The candle and ice cream were complimentary...we all had cheesecake too !

 Today was the day for a big Tucson event...Tour de Tucson.  It has been an annual event in Tucson for the past 40 years.  There are three different routes varying in miles with the longest ride at 100 miles passing thru Vail and Corona de Tucson.  I read that 7,500 cyclists participate in this renowned and popular event.  

Joe and I were headed to the grocery store and have to give a shout out to Tucson Police and Pima County Sheriffs Departments who kept the vehicle traffic and cyclists all moving safely at a steady pace.  All intersections were manned and directions were clear as to who was to go where.  We knew our regular route to Frys would be closed as the on-off ramps at Houghton Road were closed for the morning so we skirted around the long way down Wentworth Road.  Of course coming home that way meant we rode right past the Dairy Queen...

Back at the oasis, we had clouds all week...every single day !  It was wonderful...I do love the clouds ! 


late afternoon

We changed the routine and enjoyed late afternoon walks this week.


And we have even had a couple of rain showers...yippee!

A few morning backyard birds...


and sweet Sally.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  

Turkey photo taken in September at Madera Canyon

Until next time,

Ramsey Canyon Road



  1. I have been seeing gorgeous fall foliage in Ramsey Canyon on the Cochise county photography FB page I belong to. Your photos of the Canyon are great! And yes, you deserve kudos and ice cream for that hike! No rain down here, just a sprinkling one night during these latest storms.

    1. Hi Janna...thank you! I took lots of was beautiful ! A lady we talked with on the way out said we should return sometime between April - September to see lots more seasonal birds. I sure hope to make that happen !

  2. Such beautiful fall colors in Ramsey Canyon! You defiantly picked a perfect time to enjoy it.
    The clouds in your photos show the ever changing sky and make for nice sunset pictures.

    1. Hi Jeff…it was so pretty and peaceful there. We lucked out as we didn’t expect to see that much color this late in the fall.

  3. That hike in Ramsey Canyon is indeed short and steep! I remember wondering if we would ever get to the overlook.

    1. Quite the workout, but so worth the effort...the view was nice and a pat on the back for getting to the top was awesome !

  4. Love those John James cabins and the fireplace! And the colors of the leaves, and the birds, and the deer and of course Sweet Sally.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Hi Jim...we love the history in places like the canyon and often ponder on the lives the folks who lived there had. One thing is for sure, it was a beautiful spot to call home !

  5. You captured the intimacy of lovely Ramsey Canyon perfectly Gay. Your photos, as always, are beautiful. I love the fall colors, I thought we left them behind in New York! The Canyon is on our list for the next time we're down that way. I forgot about "Arizona Highways" magazine, we had a subscription years ago when we were just dreaming of being in Arizona.

    1. Hi Sue...thank you ! The vivid fall colors are my favorite colors. You and Dave will love the canyon ! It is a nice walk and so peaceful. If you head this way and go, give us a shout...

  6. Every time I read your blogs, I oooh and aaah out loud over your gorgeous photos. Some of my favorites include the sweet eyes of the mule deer, the rustic chimney, Dad climbing up that mountain, the pretty pic of you looking up at the trees, my little brother on his 50th, and the birds...all the birds. That was quite a hike and quite a week you all had. Glad you got some rain! Love you all!

    1. Hi Jill...thank you ! We definitely see photos the same way...your favorites are my favorites too and I always ooh and aah when I see pictures from your mountain hikes ! Ramsey Canyon will definitely be on the list when you and Bill visit next time. We love you, Bill and Henry !

  7. Wonderful fall hike in Ramsey Canyon. Love finding old cabins, buildings, and ruins. You always find cute places to eat. Adorable Sally photos:) Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Good morning Pam...thank you! It's always fun finding a hike that is beautiful AND has history. I would say Oak Creek Canyon near Sedona is still my favorite, but Ramsey Canyon is a close second. I do love canyon hikes!