The Davis Spring Trailhead is a gateway into an interesting part of the mountain – but, in addition to the mandatory hour+ drive, the primary access is a long, slow, high-clearance drive from Redington Road – far too few hikers see this area.
North of Edgar Canyon, across Davis Mesa, Black Hills Mine Road runs along the north ridge of Alder Canyon – notably easier to drive than the the Davis Spring Trailhead access road.
Encouraged by a trail shown on the 1904 USGS Tucson Quadrangle, I wondered if it might be faster to access the Davis Spring Trailhead by parking above Ventana Windmill off Black Hills mine road and hiking across Davis Mesa. I plotted a route across Davis Mesa that, in my living room, seemed like the route would be primarily fast-to-walk easy-to-find double track.
On the south side of Alder Canyon it was clear that the double track, so clear on the aerial views of the area, was not going to be quite as expected – we found hints of it but… I was glad to be hiking with Geoffrey from Trailvoyant – great company and an experienced set of eyes to look for the faint track!
Near the wash splitting Davis Mesa the double track became more distinct, but even then its rocky decent didn’t actually speed us up – on the other side an old road eventually appeared and curved towards the trailhead.
Clear water flowed from Davis Spring and water is still making its way down to the corral above Edgar Canyon. At the corral we drop into the bottom of the canyon – there is less water than there was in April, and very little flow – mostly just isolated pools.
The bottom of the canyon is filled with fall colors – we leave the trail behind as it climbs the canyon side and continue up canyon to the Davis Spring and Knagge Trail junction – our turn around point for the day – on the way back we find, lose, and then find the Davis Spring Trail before crossing back over Davis Mesa and Alder Canyon as the light fades.
On the 1957 Bellota 15′ Map the trail across Davis Mesa is no longer present and our path across Davis Mesa doesn’t seem worth repeating or recommending – a fun adventure and a great day out, but not the alternate Davis Spring Trailhead access I had hoped for!