Sycamore Cub Trail #219A

Length: 0.94 mi

Difficulty: moderate

Condition: bad

Elevation range: 6350 ft – 6795 ft

Elevation gain/loss: 470 ft ↑ / 55 ft ↓

Average slope: 8.4%


The Sycamore Cub Trail is accessible from two locations.

The higher elevation eastern terminus is located at a switchback along the Turtle Mountain Trail, (31.79217, -109.34836) 1.39 miles above that trail's southwestern terminus in Sycamore Canyon. This junction is marked by two signs but the one for this trail has fallen off and is lying on the ground in several pieces. It does not identify the trail by name, only saying that Cub Canyon and John Long Canyon are along the left fork, heading due west.

The lower elevation western terminus is is John Long Canyon along the remains of the jeep road, (31.79460, -109.36037) 0.97 mile south of the John Long Trail and Cottonwood Fire Canyon Trail junctions. This junction is marked by a sign, the post of which is partially buried due to flood debris raising the ground level. This sign also only identifies the canyon and not the trail by name.

Trail Description

From the eastern terminus along the Turtle Mountain Trail, (31.79217, -109.34836) head west towards the saddle that separates Sycamore and Cub Canyons. After 0.13 mile, the trail having curved slightly to the northeast, you should be slightly above the saddle, which has a fence right across it. The trail does not go through the lowest point of the saddle but instead briefly swings north and climbs slightly for 65 feet to a gate (31.79251, -109.35047) before turning left and following the fence back down to the true saddle. (31.79249, -109.35067)

Here the trail turns roughly north and begins a steep descent into Cub Canyon. The terrain and plant growth rapidly changes here, as while the lower part of the Turtle Mountain Trail as it passed through Sycamore Canyon was almost completely unburned in the 2011 Horseshoe II fire, burned areas now become visible across the canyon. Downed trees sometimes block the trail and cow paths frequently fork off, causing some confusion when trying to find your way down. Many of the forks eventually rejoin, but some are much steeper than others.

After only 100 feet, such a fork occurs. (31.79273, -109.35072) Take the right fork and you will follow a much more gradual switchback rather than slide down a steep slope. As you exit the switchback and emerge onto a somewhat open ridge, you are treated to one of the first clear views of some impressive rock formations in Cub Canyon. (31.79295, -109.35082) Continue northwest along the ridge from this viewpoint for about 130 feet before turning left and dropping down into a small side drainage.

A series of three switchbacks follow over the next 0.15 mile, but there are multiple forks through here as well. Again, they all eventually seem to rejoin the official route eventually. At the last switchback (31.79383, -109.35193) there is a very clear trail heading east that has had some relatively recent work done on it, but it is a much steeper trail than following the switchbacks. Turn left, heading west, and you will reach the canyon bottom within a few hundred feet. Here, the trail is fairly easy to follow and the canyon is not especially wide so it's easy to get back on track if you lose it. After about 0.1 mile, the trail passes a small waterfall and a nice rock cliff. (31.79398, -109.35426) From there it's 0.39 mile west to John Long Canyon and the remains of the old road. The road itself is not visible right where you will emerge, as it is buried with rock and other debris from flooding, but you will find the Cub Canyon sign right at the canyon junction (31.79460, -109.36037) and the road runs past the sign.

You can follow the road south for 0.8 mile to reach the Rak Trail (31.78543, -109.36681) which climbs back out over a saddle into the Rucker Canyon basin to a point at the end of the Rak Road (FR 4243), or north 0.97 mile to the Cottonwood Fire Canyon Trail and John Long Trail junction. (31.80731, -109.36007)


Topographic map of Sycamore Cub Trail #219A

Last updated May 3, 2017.