Thomas Canyon

Page Type
Arizona, United States, North America
Route Type:
Trail/Bushwhack/Rock Climbing
Time Required:
Most of a day
Class 4 or easy Class 5

Route Quality: 4 Votes

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Thomas Canyon
Created On: Mar 10, 2005
Last Edited On: Feb 12, 2018


From Robles Junction at the intersection of AZ 86 and 286, drive about 29 miles south on AZ 286 to milepost 16. About 0.2 miles south of milepost 16, turn right onto a dirt road and drive about 2.7 miles to a fork. You will pass through a gate shortly after the turnoff. At the fork, turn right and drive northwest about 2.8 miles to a second gate. Drive through this gate, and drive about 2.2 miles to a locked gate, passing by a windmill in the process. Park here. The elevation here is about 4,500'.

Route Description

This route is also known as the Forbes Route. From the parking area, you can clearly see Baboquivari Peak towering above you to the west. You can also see a prominent saddle just to the right of the peak. You will climb up to this saddle on the trail.

From the parking spot, walk through the hikers gate, then start walking west up the road. After about a third of a mile or so, you will pass by a ranch. Walk past the ranch, where the road soon turns into a use trail. Follow the trail as it climbs along the bottom of the scenic Thomas Canyon. The route is brushy in places. The trail will then turn slightly to the right, and the climb will steepen as you start your push for the 6,400' saddle located just northeast of the peak. The trail leads all the way to the saddle, but it ends there. From here on out, it's mostly a rock scramble and bushwhack. Baboquivari Peak can be seen towering above you from this point.

From the saddle, start heading towards the peak on the west side of the saddle. There is a faint use trail here and there. You will have to bushwhack your way in places as you climb up to the base of the first pitch. Some guidebooks say you should aim for a deep notch at a 250-degree bearing from the saddle. Climb up the faint use path along the western base of the cliffs until you can go no higher. At this point, you will reach the notch in the cliffs. Hike into the notch until you reach the cliffs on three sides of you. The first pitch is on the right cliff face. There are two routes here. One goes directly up through an opening beneath a chockstone, and the other goes just to the right of the chockstone. This Class 3/4 pitch is about 20' high or so.

Once above the first pitch, start climbing up the use trail to the base of the second pitch, which is only a short distance away. The 40' high second pitch is the easiest of the three pitches. The rock is knobby and rough, which provides lots of friction. Once above the second pitch, you will continue climbing up some sloping rock slabs. Continue to follow the faint use trail as it angles up and to the right through the brush, where you will arrive at the base of the Class 4 third pitch at 7,400'. This is the most difficult of the three pitches. As you climb up the pitch, you will angle up and to the right to reach a ledge about 50' or so above the ground. This is the belay point, and some good anchoring points are available here. Once you reach the ledge, climb up the rocky and brushy slope about 50' or so until you reach more level ground, where you will pick up the use trail again. The route then turns to the left and starts heading up a brush-filled gully. Climb up this gully, then turn right and make the final push to the summit, where you can enjoy the desert views.

Hiking Distance: About 9 miles round trip.
Elevation Gain: About 3,400'.